Google Analytics is extremely powerful and is an essential piece of every company’s digital strategy.
Yet, in typical Google style, it’s also notoriously difficult to navigate and relies heavily on the proper setup in order to deliver the data that small businesses find valuable.
Before you even begin setting up or reviewing your Google Analytics, it’s a good idea to know which metrics are important for your business. Online retailers rely on digital sales and therefore it’s important to track the customer journey from start to sale. On the other hand, local service providers rely upon online leads and therefore need to track inbound quote requests or contact form submissions. Every website has its own key metrics and it’s important to identify them in order to ensure your account is set up for success.
Once you’ve figured out your site’s key metrics, it’s time to get started with a review of your Google Analytics account. Below is our 10-step Google Analytics audit to ensure your account is properly set up.
1. Verify Property ID
The Property ID looks something like UA-000000-2. You want to make sure the ID associated with your account is the same one seen on the live website. It’s not uncommon for Google Analytics to be tracking an outdated website because often developers forget to update Google Analytics codes when launching new sites. We recommend using Google Tag Assistant to effortlessly check your property ID.
2. Check for Tag Updates
Once you know the Property ID is correct, you’ll want to check to see if your tags are the new Universal Analytics or the Global Analytics tags, not old Google Analytics tags.
If you’ve been using Google Analytics for a long time it’s possible your site has an outdated tag. Remember, Google is constantly updating their suite of tools and you want to keep up with the latest version.
3. Verify Your URL Consistency
Next, you’ll want to verify that the default URL in Property Settings corresponds to the default URL of the live site. Ensure that you’re paying close attention to HTTP/HTTPS and www/non-www. It is not uncommon for people to forget to update their Google Analytics when they update their SSL certificate to have their websites load with HTTPS.
4. Verify Your Tracking Code
Open Tag Assistant and verify the tracking code is placed on all pages only once. Often, page view tags are accidentally placed multiple times on a single page which results in the doubling of important data. This can lead to skewed results and inaccurate data, which would not be good when making marketing decisions.
5. Clean Up Your Data
It’s important to make sure that all of the traffic coming to your website is traffic from outside sources. To ensure that your Google Analytics data is clean, set up filters so that internal traffic (your own team or developers) is not being counted. We often see reporting that is way off because the internal team visits the website and that traffic is counted in the data. By setting a filter, you ensure that the data being tracked is real traffic.
6. Set Up Google Search Console
Google Search Console (formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools) is a very powerful tool for keeping a close eye on your site’s SEO strength and, once set up, integrates with Google Analytics. Google Search Console allows you to submit sitemaps, monitor organic SEO rankings and traffic, and check for SEO site errors, such as broken links (ex. “page not found” 404 errors). Make sure to connect the correct property by again paying close attention to HTTPS/HTTP and www/non-www.
7. Set Up Goals
Open the Admin area of your Analytics account and check which goals are set up. The types of goals chosen are specific to every business. Each business should have a unique set of goals such as webform completions, sales, quote requests, etc. These goals are great for reporting as they quickly show month-to-month growth or decline per marketing channel.
8. Enable eCommerce
For any eCommerce site, it’s important to enable the enhanced eCommerce settings as this gives details into which products are purchased. This step might require a developer to work on the site’s platform because it can be a bit tricky, though most modern eCommerce platforms have settings to enable this feature.
9. Use Site Search Settings
If your site uses a search box (a MUST for eCommerce sites) then under “View Settings” is a feature called “Site Search Settings.” With this, you can add a query parameter which enables a “site search report.” This report will give you insight into the user’s site search activity which provides insight into which products should be more front-and-center. Find more info about setting up Site Search here.
10. Use URL Builder
URL Builder allows businesses to create unique tracking URLs to mark up custom sources and marketing channels. For example, we recommend using the URL Builder to create tracking URLs for all of your email marketing campaigns so you can run reports on your site’s traffic from email campaigns. This is important for identifying which sources and campaigns are driving traffic, leads, and sales.
Google Analytics is vital for tracking growth and developing a digital strategy for literally any business with a website. Yet, like most Google products, Google Analytics is designed with professionals in mind, making the initial setup both complex and technical. Use our list to ensure your bases are covered and be sure to give yourself the time to meticulously set up your account so that it matches your specific digital business goals.