Google Analytics Audit Checklist – The DIY Version

As the most widely used analytics service on the web today, Google Analytics tracks a veritable mountain of website data. If you want to learn how users spend time on your webpage, including behaviors like session duration, bounce rate, conversions, and more, Google Analytics (GA) can provide it for you.

However, you’ll need to spend a little time building a relationship with GA first.

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Your DIY Analytics Checklist, Explained

Our colleagues over at Distilled have built a public GA checklist to help GA users make the most of its features.

We’ve highlighted the most crucial elements, as well as those that are not self-explanatory. Save a copy so you can notate the status of each item; then, as you proceed through the list, mark each as one of the following: 

  • Pass—indicates that there is no concern at present.
  • OK—indicates that the item is not relevant.
  • Fail—indicates a problem with the item.

After you’ve ensured that Google Analytics is active on the website, proceed through the list:

  • Is the GA structure logical? If your GA account is set up so that there is only one view of all data, all changes will affect reporting in the future. Instead, take this moment to create two duplicate views to differentiate between the master view, which is the out-of-the-box default with no changes, and the reporting and test views, which in turn incorporate the changes you’ve made and serve as a testing site for future changes.  
  • Are GA settings set correctly?
    • Bot Filtering enabled—make these changes as they apply to reporting and test views only, never the master view. Ensure you have enabled Google’s feature designed to exclude bot and spam traffic, thus keeping sessions and the resulting data as close to real-time figures as possible. 
    • Site Search enabled—enabling Site Search allows GA to provide analytics regarding how users behave on your website and pinpoint any searched content you may be failing to deliver. Use this time to outline query parameters you want GA to look for.
    • AdWords account linked—if you utilize AdWords, the resulting data can be shared directly with GA to provide a more comprehensive overview of your eCommerce performance. Once linked, you can use a multi-channel funnel and remarketing reports to improve your reach. 
    • Google Search console linked—similar to AdWords, if you link your Google Search console with GA, you’ll access additional reporting and data options. 
    • Exclude URL query parameters used—under normal circumstances, adding a query parameter to URL results in a separate report to GA and can result in hundreds of thousands of similar landing page reports. Determine which parameters do not change the page enough to warrant a separate report and exclude them. 
    • Goals set and tracked correctly—your goals are determined by you and can range from simple landing page views to complex, multi-step goals. Ensure they do not overlap and unfairly inflate the rate at which you achieve each of your goals.
    • Content grouping enabled and correct—content grouping puts your pages or content into groups determined by your site structure. Ensure the groupings make sense during this step. 
    • Internal and agency IPs filtered—out-of-the-box GA includes internal sessions, which may skew reporting and data provided. Determine which IPs visit your site for auditing or other similar purposes and add them to the filter to remove them from your reporting view.
    • Self-referrals excluded—similarly, if you use multiple subdomains, your domain will crop up regularly and skew your referrals report. Exclude these for more accurate reporting. 
    • Payment gateways excluded—in the same sense, payment referrals from PayPal and other payment partners will appear in your referrals, giving the payment site credit for a referral instead of the source website. Exclude the payment gateways to assign proper credit. 
  • Is GA tracking implemented and working correctly?
    • Tracking on all pages—if any of your landing pages are missing a tracking ID or include an incorrect ID, they cannot report to GA. Ensure compliance across all pages. 
    • Mobile site being tracked—do you have a mobile website? If so, make sure it is tracked with mobile tracking on all pages. 
    • Tracking code in the correct place in source code—review each of your landing pages to make sure the source code is in its proper place, directly before the closing </head> section.
    • Tracking code not duplicated—sift through your source code to ensure your tracking code appears only once. If it appears numerous times, it will duplicate all page hits and double the number of sessions recorded. 
    • Tracking on 404 pages—if you have broken pages that generate a 404 response, look for your tracking code. Then, fix broken pages. 
    • Cross-domain tracking—if you utilize cross-domain tracking, GA can view sessions across multiple sites and track user behavior within a single session. 
  • Data Quality
    • UTM tagging—make sure UTM tags accurately implement social media and email tags and AdWords tagging is used correctly. 
    • Referral spam excluded—now, include a custom filter for your reporting view to exclude any remaining spam referrals. 
    • eCommerce data—take the time to perform a transaction or two and ensure data is accurately reflected in GA. 

Ready to Dive Deeper?

As you perform this DIY audit and build your relationship with Google Analytics, you’ll see that the platform has a wealth of features, developed to offer you deep insights into your web traffic and user behavior. If you’re ready to capture more in-depth information and perform a comprehensive Google Analytics audit, Vizion Interactive has your back. Contact us today for more information.