How to Do a Quick Google Analytics Audit (With a Checklist)
How often do you check your Google Analytics dashboard?
Probably quite often. That’s how you check your website traffic, the number of sessions on the blog, or the performance of your paid campaigns.
So basically, Google Analytics is your source to know how your marketing efforts are impacting your website and conversions.
But, given that Google Analytics is probably your only source of truth, how often do you check if your Google Analytics is capturing the right data?
If that’s true, then it’s high time for a quick Google Analytics audit. This is ridiculously important as you’re making decisions based on this.
Also, it’s quite simple and not as complicated and time-consuming as you would imagine.
In this blog, I’ve tried to simplify the Google Analytics audit process so that you can run a quick health check and audit on your Google Analytics account.
But first, I think it’s helpful to understand how the initial setup of Google Analytics is done.
Google Analytics Initial Setup in 5 Basic Steps
Step 1: Sign-Up All you need is a Gmail account. Once you sign-in with it, fill out certain basic questions like account name, website name, URL, and once you accept the terms and conditions, you have a Google Analytics account.
Step 2: GA Tracking Code This is a very important step. Once your Google Analytics Account is created, you need to insert the GA tracking code on every page of your website and in the <head> section of the code. It’s better to use Google Tag Manager and this video shows you the step-by-step process of installing Google Analytics with Google Tag Manager.
Step 3: Setup Goals Depending upon the nature of the business, you can set up goals in Google Analytics. You can also set multiple goals based on acquisition, revenue, inquiry, and engagement. That is, be it a sign-up, purchase, or a donation, you can set a goal and start tracking in Google Analytics.
Step 4: Filter Out Internal Traffic and Bots Here’s where you can add users to your Google Analytics account and also exclude internal traffic and bots so that your GA data is accurate. All you need to do is add the relevant IP address, and that’s it. GA will stop taking your internal traffic into account.
Step 5: Link AdWord/Adsense Account Property settings are where you can link your Google Adwords or Adsense account to your Google Analytics Account and also key in some basic information like industry category and default view. You can also set up custom dimensions and metrics for Google Analytics custom reports.
These are the 5 basic steps for setting up your Google Analytics account. Once you place the Google Analytics tracking code, you’ll be able to see the data on your Google Analytics reports. But for a detailed set-up guide, check out this video.
Now, let’s move on to the Google Analytics health check. Once you set up your Google Analytics account and start tracking your website, it’s quite important that you do a regular Google Analytics Audit.
Why Should you do a Google Analytics Audit and Health Check?
As discussed earlier, Google Analytics is probably your only source of truth for measuring all your marketing activities. But how do you know if :
- Data collected is accurate?
- Configuration is working fine?
- Tracking all the data you can?
- Something is broken or not working?
We don’t want to leave all this for chance, right? That’s why a regular Google Analytics audit and health check will help you improve the quality of your Google Analytics data and ensure that your reports show accurate results.
Google Analytics Health Check
✅ Webpages Error Check:
The easiest way to check if all your web pages are loading properly and to check if they’re throwing errors by running a simple crawl test. With a crawl test, you get a list of web pages that needs technical fixes.
What’s a crawl test?
A crawler is a program that visits web sites and reads their pages and other information in order to create entries for a search engine index. By doing a crawl test, you’ll know if Google is able to crawl all of your pages.
The SEO tools like Moz, SEMrush, etc comes with a feature to do a crawl test. All you have to do is just run it and find out what pages throw errors. If you’re not using one, it’s super useful to get one. Also, these tools have a free version as well.
Common web page error to look out for:
- Duplicate URLs
- Mirror sites
- No-follow tags
- Revisit after tags
- XML sitemap link
- 404 error
- 500 errors
- 301 redirects
- 302 redirects
Here’s a list of webpage errors and what it means. It’s super important to check if all your webpages are loading fine before we check the data in Google Analytics.
✅ Google Analytics Admin Setup Check:
Previously, we just went through what a basic Google Analytics setup looks like. So, in this section, we’ll just have to check if Google Analytics is set up properly. This helps if you weren’t part of the team which did the initial setup of Google Analytics account.
Ensure that all the fields in your property settings are keyed in properly. From website URL to AdWord integration, check the configuration once. Also, check what time zone is set and if that matches with your Google AdWords account. Check and update currency and, more importantly, URLs you want to exclude and filter out data from bots and internal IP addresses.
Even after carefully setting up your tracking code, property, and view settings, your metrics can still go wrong. Make sure all your paid campaigns, referral channels are tagged properly. You can learn more about this here.
Here are the pointers for GA Admin check:
- Default website URL
- Time zone
- Type of industry
- Exclude internal traffic
- Google Adword integration
- Enable demographics and interest reports
- Enable enhanced link attribution
What is Enhanced Link Attribution?
Enhanced link attribution is a Google Analytics feature that differentiates between identical links on the same page.
Example: If you have 3 or 4 CTA buttons on the same page. With enhanced link attribution, you can track which one gets more clicks even if they’re all the same links.
This can be done by just enabling the enhanced link attribution in the property settings of your Google Analytics account.
✅ Tracking Check:
It’s better to check if everything is being tracked by Google Analytics. I.e If the Google Analytics tracking code has been placed on all your webpages and if its collecting data from all of them.
While checking if the tracking code is placed, also make sure you haven’t placed this code in multiple places or in the wrong place. Also, ensure your Google Tag Manager is implemented properly, and Google Analytics ‘Universal’ Code is delivered with Google Tag Manager. Make use of this Google Analytics support guide, and you use tools like Sitechecker and GAchecker to check missing pages.
Also, if you’re using multiple Google Analytics account, check if you placed the right tracking code linking to the right domain. If your buyer’s journey includes multiple domains, then make sure you enable cross-domain tracking. Apart from Google Analytics tracking code checks, ensure all the filters excluding internal traffic and bots are in place.
Here are the quick pointers on GA tracking issues.
- Tracking code is placed in all the pages
- Only one tracking code is placed in all the pages
- Right tracking code is placed in all the pages
- Format of the tracking code placed.
- Mobile site tracking
- Tracking code version
- Filtering internal traffic and bots
- Removing self-referrals
- Cross-Domain tracking
✅ Google Tag Manager Check:
Ideally, most companies use Google Tag Manager to set up a Google Analytics account, and it’s also the easiest way. However, you could still have some trouble there. So do a quick check on published containers, triggers, and filters in your Google Tag Manager.
- Tags firing issues
- Unpublished containers
- Wrong filters
- Triggers too specific
- Container snippet problems
- Incorrect triggers
Google Analytics has published the list of common issues in Google Tag Manager that can hamper your data/reports.
✅ Google Adwords Check:
If you are running Google Ads, it’s super useful to link your AdWords/AdSense account to your Google Analytics account. You can easily track impressions, clicks, and even track the return on investment for the Ads you run by combining the data on Google Analytics and Google Adwords account using auto-tagging.
Also, make sure that your Google Analytics account and Google Adwords account follow the same time zones, and PPC keywords’ ID is not visible on the landing pages as this would make Google Analytics see it as two different pages.
But to link your Adwords account with Google Analytics account, you need to have edit permission in analytics account and administrative access to Adwords account.
Here are pointers for Adword account check:
- AdWords linking
- PPC keyword ID
- Time zone of analytics and AdWord account.
- Cross-check data of analytics and AdWord account.
✅ SEO Check:
While doing a technical crawl test on your webpages, it would also be helpful to do a basic SEO check. Especially when you do a crawl test using tools like AHrefs or SEMrush, you’ll get SEO related suggestions as well.
Here’s a basic SEO checklist for a webpage:
- Is the title short/not too long?
- Does the title have primary keywords?
- Are the meta tags in place?
- Is the meta description proper?
- Do the images have Alt-text?
- Website structure right?
- URL structure right?
- The number of times the keyword is repeated?
✅ GDPR Check:
If Google finds any PII in your properties or views, it has the right to delete your account. PII means personally identifiable information like emails, phone number, etc. This usually happens with registration forms or sign up forms. Ensure that no PII is sent to your Google Analytics account. You can read more about this here
Make sure you regularly do a Google Analytics audit and health check on a quarterly or half-yearly basis. This will improve the accuracy of your reports as marketing decisions are made based on these reports.
If you have huge website traffic or are managing multiple domains or you just have the resources to hire a Google Analytics consultant, then please do so. Google Analytics can get quite overwhelming and it’s also ways a good idea to go to the experts. Some of the reputed and popular consultants are Annie Cushings, Andy Crestodina, Jesper Astrom, Tatvic, Jeff Sauer and find many more in this list. If you are a beginner and want to understand the basics of google analytics have a look at this analytics guide for beginners.
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