How to Conduct a Google Analytics Audit

December 10, 2019 Chris O'Neill

To create rich customer experiences, you need your Google Analytics implementation to collect accurate data, and ensuring this accurate data will require you to regularly audit your Google Analytics implementation. However, completing these audits can be an extensive and challenging undertaking. 

In this blog post, How to Conduct a Google Analytics Audit, you’ll learn how to:

  • Effectively audit your Google Analytics implementation
  • Ensure your Google Analytics tags are properly placed and collecting accurate data
  • Prioritize your analytics audits for a greater MarTech ROI
  • Gain confidence in your data and make better data-driven decisions
  • Use automation to free up time and resources, so you can focus on creating great digital experiences

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To effectively serve your online customers and grow your business, you need your Google Analytics implementation to collect accurate data. 

Without accurate data, you will lack confidence in your data-driven decisions, you will waste time and resources, and you won’t be able to deliver experiences that truly connect with your customers. 

As a result, taking time to regularly ensure your Google Analytics implementation is properly in place and collecting accurate data should be a high priority for your business. 

In order to ensure your Google Analytics implementation is working as expected on an ongoing basis, you will want to perform regular audits of your implementation, which you can complete manually or with automation.

Manual audits

Attempting to audit your implementation manually can prove to be difficult, as you will need to dedicate man-hours to combing through your website code and analytics tags in an effort to validate each bit of analytics tracking code. This manual effort is time consuming and prone to human error, leaving you with lost time, wasted resources, and potential gaps in your analytics data. 

Automated audits

On the other hand, you can audit your implementation with the help of automation—namely, an automated tag governance solution. An automated tag governance solution will allow you to set up regularly occurring tests that automatically scan your analytics implementation and alert you of any errors that fall outside of your expectations. 

Some of the benefits to auditing your Google Analytics implementation with an automated tag governance solution include:

  • Significantly improved data accuracy and reliability
  • Saved time and resources that would have been spent on manual audits
  • Greater confidence in data-driven decisions
  • Increased ability to move forward and build a better digital world for your customers

Gaining the benefits of an automated tag governance solution will require you to build your own solution, or find a third-party application. 

Aside from your choice about manual or automated audits, you will need to know which critical site elements you should focus your audits on and how to go about completing those audits. These critical site elements will involve the following:

  • Website pages
  • User paths and conversion events

Auditing Website Pages

When auditing your website pages and the associated Google Analytics implementation, you’ll want to target your efforts toward these factors: 

  • Ensuring tag presence and functionality
  • Protecting data and privacy
  • Prioritizing high traffic/critical pages

Let’s take a quick look at each of these items.

Tag presence and functionality 

First, here’s a quick refresher on what tags are and why we use them. Tags are the bits of analytics tracking code deployed on your web pages that transmit network request data to Google Analytics. From a functionality standpoint, tags are digital tools used to gain insights into customer behavior, allowing you to monitor and improve customer experiences through data analysis. 

When auditing your pages for tags, the first thing you’ll want to do is locate where all your tags are deployed and note any missing or duplicate tags. Tags should be present on every page of your site, as you can only collect data from pages containing tags. You should remove any duplicate tags you find, since these duplicates create inaccurate data. 

Additionally, you’ll want to take a look at the network requests associated with each tag (a single tag can fire multiple network requests), and determine that these requests are meeting your expectations.

Protect data and privacy

While auditing the tags on each page of your site, you’ll want to ensure all your tags are configured within the appropriate syntax and that required disclosures are present on your site. Failing to do so may lead to Google truncating or discarding data, and you may put yourself at risk of violating data privacy laws and negatively impacting your customers. 

Additionally, while you audit your implementation you’ll likely find unauthorized tracking technologies on your site. These rogue technologies can potentially send personally identifiable information (PII) to third parties, and they need to be addressed immediately if you find them. 

Prioritize high-traffic and high-revenue pages

With the help of an automated tag governance solution, you could regularly scan every single page of your site. But regularly completing all-encompassing scans isn’t necessary, especially if you have a large site with thousands of tags. Comprehensive scans of your site are inefficient, because these extensive scans take more time and resources to run, and all-inclusive tests return vast amounts of data to sift through. 

Instead, you will be better off targeting your regular audits towards your high-traffic and high-revenue pages, which could include your home page, critical landing pages, and any pages containing heavy customer interaction. These pages are the core of your site, and focusing on them will give you the greatest ROI on the time and resources spent completing your audits. 

Another key element to monitor while auditing your high-priority pages is page and tag load time. Making sure your Google Analytics tags and their associated pages are loading in a timely manner will be critical to accurately collecting data while a customer is engaging with your site.

Feature Highlight: Web Audits

Companies like Adobe, Comcast, Johnson & Johnson, and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise use ObservePoint’s Web Audits to regularly scan their site and discover what technologies are gathering data. Using a web audit, you can easily verify that Google Analytics is installed and functioning properly on each page of your site.                           

Auditing User Paths and Conversion Events

Just like you want to target your Google Analytics audits toward your pages with the highest amounts of traffic, you will also want to target your critical user paths and conversion events. These paths and events may include logins, shopping cart paths, and any other important user interaction on your site.

In order to test these paths and events, you will need to simulate user interactions while testing the associated analytics tracking and overall functionality. An automated tag governance solution will allow you to efficiently simulate customer interactions on these paths and conversion events while applying testing rules that allow you to ensure your expectations are being met. 

Feature Highlight: Web Journeys

The ObservePoint Web Journeys feature makes it possible for companies like Verizon, Johnson & Johnson, Overstock.com, and Suncorp to test their most important web experiences. Web Journeys replicate a site’s user journeys, such as shopping carts or user logins, from start to finish, and send alerts if anything prevents the path from completing or if the analytics are not tracking the activity.

Keep Moving Forward with Automation

Regularly auditing your Google Analytics implementation is an extensive and challenging undertaking, which is only compounded by the fact that websites and their associated analytics implementations change frequently.

However, you don’t need to surrender to the complexity of the challenge and accept bad data. Instead, you can adopt an automated tag governance solution, which will help you regain confidence in your data, while saving you time and allowing you to focus on creating great digital experiences

To see how ObservePoint’s automated tag governance solution can help you ensure accurate data with your Google Analytics implementation, schedule a demo today.

About the Author

Chris O'Neill

Chris O’Neill is a full-stack web developer who has been in the analytics space for the past 5 years. As Solutions Architect at ObservePoint, Chris helps large enterprises set up automated testing of their analytics scripts with ObservePoint so they can verify custom website tracking is always up and running.

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