If you’re just getting started with Google Analytics, or wanting to do a spring clean of your Google Analytics setup, then this is the checklist to guide you through the process. Share your own tips and tricks in the comments below and let us know if there’s anything you’d add. Use our handy Google Analytics Checklist PDF, and read on to find out if you’re missing anything in your Google Analytics setup.
1. Has the Google Analytics tracking code been installed correctly?
This may seem pretty obvious, but we can’t emphasise it enough! After all, if your tracking code isn’t firing correctly, you won’t be receiving the right data (or any data) in your Google Analytics account. A few tips to keep in mind:
- Make sure that the code been inserted across your website on all pages. Without a tracking code, pageviews will not be tracked.
- You only need to insert the code once however – duplicating the tracking code on the same page can cause problems in your data.
- Insert the Google Analytics tracking code in the right place. It is recommended to go immediately before the closing </head> tag.
- Use the latest version of the analytics tracking code – if you’ve upgraded to Universal Analytics, the classic tracking code will still work but will eventually be retired by Google.
- Better still, why not use Google Tag Manager to implement your Google Analytics code. For a full guide to Google Tag Manager setup, features and benefits, check out our blog post.
- Do a final check with Google Tag Assistant to make sure that your tag is working correctly.
2. Have site search reports been set up?
To see your user’s site search activity correctly in your Google Analytics reports, there are a few extra steps you’ll need to make. How you do it will depend on the way your website functions and the URLs your search function creates. Read our recent blog post for more details. A few other things to keep in mind:
- Ideally, the keyword needs to be stored as a parameter in the pageview URL
- Reported keywords are case sensitive, but you can add a lowercase filter to work around it. Find out more at this blog post.
- Can your website visitors search by category? You can track the selected category too.
3. Are you using event tracking?
Event tracking helps to track user interactions on any page within your website. You can track pretty much anything, including: downloads, video plays, outbound clicks, gadgets and flash elements. Get the most out of event tracking:
- Be consistent with your naming convention and plan a structure for your event categories, actions and labels.
- Think about tracking outbound links, internal campaigns, downloads and interactive content.
- Remember that non-interactive events do not affect bounce rate calculations.
- Consider implementing event-based goals that use the event value.
- Don’t get carried away and add events for absolutely everything – be strategic about what you want to track and keep Google’s data limits in mind.
We cover event tracking as one of the ways to measure your internal campaigns on this blog post.
4. Do you need to implement ecommerce tracking?
Ecommerce tracking can be used to understand more about your potential customers – what they’re buying, which products are performing well, where users might be dropping out of the purchase funnel. Find out more about Google’s Enhanced Ecommerce on our blog and keep the below steps in mind:
- Make better decisions about your online store activities by ensuring that your ecommerce reporting data is accurate. Define a goal and funnel for ecommerce purchases, but don’t assign a value as that will already be measured by ecommerce tracking.
- Whether or not you’re already using ecommerce tracking, think about upgrading to the latest Enhanced Ecommerce features for even deeper insights.
You can also catch a recent webinar we presented on Enhanced Ecommerce reporting.
5. Are your goals configured correctly?
Setting up goals within your Google Analytics account is one of the first steps in becoming a data-driven marketer or organisation. Not only does it encourage a unity between your website and your business goals, it enables you to truly measure how effective your marketing activities are.
- Measure both your macro-conversions and your micro-conversions to get a better understanding of the actions your users are taking on your website.
- Remember that you can assign dollar values to non-ecommerce goals too – use symbolic values to give more meaning to your goals.
6. Have you set your default homepage?
Do you have a default home page set up for your website? If you don’t, you might find some additional rows in your content reports.
- Condense your content reports by making sure your default homepage settings are correct.
- Be careful with this setting as it can prevent the in-page analytics report working if the default page is invalid across your website. It can also adversely modify the reported pageview URLs if misconfigured.
- As an alternative, consider a view filter to remove the default page from pageviews that include it in their URL. This way all pageview URLs can end with a forward slash, helping you get the most out of the content drill down and visitor flow reports which rely on well-structured URL paths.
7. Is your Google AdWords account linked to Google Analytics?
This is a must in order to get the most out of the combined power of Google Analytics and Google AdWords. Once you link your accounts, detailed data from your paid campaigns is fed into Google Analytics, allowing for greater analysis and the ability to see the customer journey throughout your site.
- Check that clicks approximately match sessions. The numbers won’t necessarily be exactly the same, but they shouldn’t vary too much.
- If you have more than one Google AdWords account, check that each of them have been linked to the appropriate Google Analytics properties.
- Don’t add campaign tags to your Google AdWords destination links, as these will interfere with Google AdWords auto-tagging.
8. Do you use campaign tags to track your marketing activities?
Campaign tags are a must for marketers who are driven by ROI and want to constantly measure and improve their campaigns. It’s a simple but extremely powerful way of ensuring that the correct campaign data is being fed into Google Analytics, ready for you to see results, segment, and optimise.
- Apply campaign tags to all of your inbound links, except for Google AdWords where auto-tagging is recommended instead.
- Check that campaign tags use consistent naming conventions and provide appropriate detail, so that your reporting data is easier to understand.
- Keep a record of your what campaign tagged links, to help maintain consistent naming conventions, and to refer to when looking back at your reports.
- Campaign tags should be added as query parameters before an anchor in the URL, i.e. after the ? and before any # symbol.
- Test your campaign tagged links prior to launching and ensure that they work correctly and are being tracked in Google Analytics.
9. Have a look at your hostnames: are they appropriate?
If your website spans multiple domains or subdomains, you might see your own website within the Google Analytics referrals reports. This is called self-referral and generally indicates that you need to adjust your tracking code or property configuration to correctly track visitors as they travel between your domains.
- Implement cross-domain tracking to avoid having a self-referral issue in your data.
- Filter out any unknown or suspect hostnames to ensure you have a clean dataset.
Download our handy Google Analytics Checklist PDF, to see where you can improve on your Google Analytics set up.