As a web analytics professional, part of your role is to protect the integrity of your data collection technologies in the face of frequent changes to your site—changes likely made by multiple teams including marketing, development, and digital analytics.
Change is good, but it can also cause data collection errors. The best way to avoid data collection errors and safeguard your implementation is to conduct periodic web analytics audits.
There are two ways to conduct such audits:
- Manually, via your browser’s network tools or by using a tag debugger browser extension.
- Automatically, with software designed to crawl through your website and test any analytics technologies.
Ideally you would audit your site as often as your site changes, which means it may not be realistic to do so manually, since that option is better suited to checking a couple of tags on one page at a time, not at scale. Consequently, you’ll want to adopt an automated web analytics auditing software like ObservePoint’s Technology Governance solution for large, complex websites.
The checklist below outlines the steps you should walk through each time your site changes to verify nothing interferes with data collection. Where applicable, we’ve included a quick description of how Technology Governance can help accomplish each step.
Your 6-Step Checklist for a Web Analytics Audit
1. Do pageview tags fire as expected?
Pageview tags are your analytics bread and butter. As such, your analytics tracking should fire on every page of your site.
Of course you can’t manually debug every page on your site, which is where automation comes in handy. Audits in Technology Governance scan through your site and report back which tags are present, firing, and sending data, as well as where these tags are missing.
2. Do event-based tags fire as expected?
An event tag fires when users complete an action, like clicking a button or making a purchase. Event-based tracking usually occurs on a site’s most important conversion paths and is important to test regularly. If you are a Google customer, you may be aware that Google Analytics 4 is moving to all event-based tags, which makes this step even more important.
Journeys is a feature in Technology Governance that allows you to simulate user actions on your site and test that event-based tags fire as expected. If anything prevents the completion of a Journey or if a tag doesn’t fire as expected, you’ll receive a notification from ObservePoint.
3. Are there duplicate tags?
Duplicate tags are a common problem in web analytics. When duplicate tags exist, they can cause data inflation and cost you extra fees from your analytics provider. You can find out if this is a problem in ObservePoint’s Duplicates & Multiples Report.
4. How quickly do my tags load?
Tag load time can affect data accuracy and overall page load times, which in turn can hurt your SEO efforts. Verify that your tags aren’t taking too long to load (no more than 200 ms).
The Tag Health Report (in Audits and Journeys) can show you exactly how long tags are taking, so you can pinpoint any problematic ones that are taking too long to load.
5. Are the correct variables present?
Missing variables result in inaccurate data and incomplete insights. Verify that variables are present in your analytics server request.
You can set up Rules in Technology Governance to match analytics variables to a specific RegEx pattern.
6. Are variable values present and in the right format?
If variables are present but their values aren’t being populated, then the variable doesn’t do you much good. Make sure that the variable values are present and in the right format.
Custom Rules can be set up to compare values against expectations, and you can see failures in reporting or set up alerts to notify you right away if an issue arises.
See the Advantages of Automation
You can only trust web analytics data as far back as when you last audited your implementation. The more you audit, the better, but of course resource limitations make it difficult to conduct regular, in-depth audits.
That’s where automation comes in.
If you’d like to see a sample web analytics audit of how Technology Governance can superpower your web analytics testing, please fill out the form and we’d be happy to show you in person or via a pre-recorded demo.
About the AuthorMore Content by Felice Wu