Google Universal Analytics Setup checklist

 

This checklist / interactive tool will help you greatly in configuring your Universal Analytics account pretty fast.

{check the task when you have completed it}

Website Audit

1. Visit the client website more info

Do this to understand what needs to be tracked and to understand client’s business. Without a deep understanding of the client’s business you will have a hard time setting up SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) goals in analytics and coming up with useful analytical insight.

2. Do a five second test +

  • As soon as you visit the website, view it for five seconds, try to remember as much as you can and then go to Google or some other website.
  • Now ask yourself two questions: what the website is all about and what it is trying to sell.

Note down whatever you remember about the site. This five second test will later help you in coming up with the strategies to reduce the bounce rate of the website. 

3. Browse the website thoroughly and note down what is important:

3.1 Website Issues related to site design, navigation, usability, contents, images, videos etc.

3.2 Website Sections which should also be tracked separately (through filtered views) like blog, forum etc

3.3 Traffic Sources that should also be tracked separately (through filtered views) like traffic coming through social media , email and other campaigns.

3.4 Visitor’s interactions (like signups, login-ins, downloads etc). These interactions should be tracked through event tracking.

3.5 Website Objective(s) – determine all macro and micro conversions +

The major purpose(s) of setting up a website is known as macro conversion and other minor purpose(s) is known as the micro conversions.

Website objective (or conversion) is what the website is trying to achieve. There can be one or many purposes for which a website has been set up. These purposes can be something like selling products, generating leads, branding, selling advertising, building good relationship with the target audience, customer support etc.

 

3.6 Navigational paths which can lead to macro and micro goals conversions +

Navigational paths are made up of series of web pages which you can expect your visitors to follow to achieve website goals like making a purchase.

There can be ‘N’ ways of making a purchase on a website.

For example, your visitor can start his shopping journey from the home page and then go to the product category page followed by product detail page, registration page, checkout page and ‘order confirmation’ page or he can directly go to the checkout page (few days after registering on the website and adding item to his basket) and then to the ‘order confirmation’ page.

You will have to determine the most efficient way of making a purchase on your website.

All of this will later help you in setting up and optimizing the funnel pages in UA.

Please note: If you don’t have administrative access to the client’s site, then you will need to ask your client’s developer to give you a list of web pages which makes up the shopping cart process and URL of the order confirmation page.

3.7 Users’ behaviour (like time spent on site) which can lead to macro/micro goals conversions +

If one of your micro goal is user engagement then how you will measure it?

You can measure it through visitor’s behavior on your site. But this behavior should be something which you can analyze through your analytics.

You certainly can’t analyze how many visitors got delighted when they landed on your page (unless UA can do face reading and report visitors emotions). So you need to use one of the available metrics which can help you in understanding visitor’s engagement.

One of the metrics you can use to measure engagement is ‘time spent on the site‘.

Such type of metric is known as ‘key performance indicator‘ or KPI as it helps in understanding the performance of your goals. You need to set up such type of KPIs for all of your goals.

Related Post: Understanding Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) – Complete Guide

4. Setup SMART Targets +

Targets are numerical values through which you can measure the extent to which you have succeeded or failed in achieving a goal.

Without targets and deadlines no goal is unachievable.

For e.g increasing the traffic of the website is not a SMART target. Increasing the website traffic by 50% in the next 6 months can be a SMART target. Here i would like to point out one more thing.

Do not solely depend upon your clients to decide targets for you. Their targets are generally not SMART (like “we want to double our site revenue in the next 3 months”, sounds familiar?) and you may end up looking like an incompetent consultant to them if you follow their targets.

Do your own analysis and setup realistic targets. 

5. Get a written agreement from your client on the goals, goal values, funnel pages and Targets.  This will save you from any future dispute/ disagreement on conversion tracking.

6. Create an account in Universal Analytics in case there is no account set up. Click here to create your account.

7. Add a new analytics account to your account if you already have an account in UA.

 

Account Level Configurations

1. Enable data sharing settings +

Go to Admin > Account > Account Settings and make sure following data sharing settings are enabled:

  1. With other Google products only
  2. Anonymously with Google and others
  3. Technical Support
  4. Account specialists

All of these data sharing options help in enabling enhanced ad features (like you can use conversion optimizer in Google Adwords) and let you use Universal Analytics and other Google products to their full potential.

The last two settings: Technical Support and Account Specialist are especially useful to those who run Universal Analytics Premium.

2. Get Administrative privileges at the account level (Manage users, Edit, Collaborate, Read and Analyze) +

Go to Admin > Account > User Management and make sure that you have got following account permissions: Manage users, Edit, Collaborate, Read and Analyze

I always aim to get administrative privileges at the account level so that I can later create goals, set up funnel pages, setup filters and use all the features of UA.  If the client doesn’t have any UA account then I setup an account for him and add myself as an account administrator.

3. Grant/manage others users access to your analytics report +

I may need to provide UA access to number of people like my client, senior management etc. I generally give them ‘Read and Analyze’ access so that they can’t accidentally make changes to the account. You can learn more about granting users access here: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1009702?hl=en

4. Document recent important changes made to your analytics account (Change History) +

Go to Admin > Account > Change History

Note down the important changes various account users have made recently. These changes can be change made to Goal tracking, view addition/deletion, filter addition/deletion etc.

 

Property Level Configurations

1. Enable demographic and Psychographic data +

Through demographic data you can determine how your customers’ behaviour varies by gender. For example, do men buy more from your website than women?

Through Psychographic data you can determine interest, personality, lifestyle, values, beliefs, liking, disliking etc of your target audience.

You can find more details about enabling demographic data in Universal Analytics from this article: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/2819948

Note: Once you have enabled the demographic data in your UA account, you can also view the psychographic data in your UA reports.

2. Enable Enhanced Link Attribution for In-Page Analytics +

By default through in-page analytics you can’t see separate click through information for multiple links on a web page that all have the same destination URL.

Similarly, by default you can’t see click through information for on-page elements like buttons, menus and actions driven by JavaScript code.

To use all of these features you need to enable Enhanced Link Attribution. You can find more details about enabling enhanced link attribution from this article: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/2558867?hl=en&utm_id=ad 

3. Add Google Webmaster Tools account to Universal Analytics property +

Through such integration you can view the Google Webmaster tools data (queries, impressions, clicks, CTR, landing pages etc) in ‘search Engine Optimization’ reports of your Universal Analytics reports.

You can find more details about UA and GWT integration from this article: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/1120006?hl=en 

4. Get Administrative privileges at the property level +

If for some reason you can’t get administrative access at the account level then try hard to get administrative access at the property level.

Go to Admin > Property > User Management and make sure that you have got following permissions: Manage users, Edit, Collaborate, Read and Analyze

5. Grant/manage others users access to your analytics property +

You can give other users access to any/all properties within an account. I generally give ‘read and analyse’ access to other users to avoid accidental changes made to the property.

6. Make sure that you are using Universal Analytics Tracking Code +

You may not know but majority of analytics account have already been auto upgraded to Universal Analytics. But they are still using the old Google Analytics tracking code on the website.  You need to find and remove the old Google Analytics tracking code and replace it with the new Universal Analytics tracking code.

Use Google Tag manager to implement Universal Analytics tracking code.

7. Verify tracking code installation +

Verify that the tracking code is correctly installed on all of your web pages. You can use ‘screaming frog SEO spider’ for that. If you want to verify manually, view the source code of the page and search for ‘analytics.js’ 

8. Verify that you are receiving the analytics data in your reports +

Check the ‘Real time overview’ report in your Universal Analytics view. If you don’t see any data then something is wrong with your tracking code installation. 

9. Enable the User-ID feature +

In order to do cross device measurement you need to enable the user ID feature.

Go to Admin > Property > Property Settings > Tracking Info > User-ID

Then agree to the User ID policy, set up the User ID and create a user ID view by following the instructions given on the setup page.

More information about setting up User ID can be found here: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/3123666?hl=en&utm_id=ad 

10. Change Server Side Configuration Settings +

Universal Analytics lets you change following server side configuration settings:

  1. Session and campaigns timeout settings.
  2. Add/delete search engines (organic search sources)
  3. Add/delete referral traffic sources (Referral Exclusion List)
  4. Exclude search terms (Search Term Exclusion List)

I have explained all of these server side configuration settings in great detail in this article: Beginners Guide to Universal Analytics – Creating Custom Dimensions & Metrics 

11. Add Google Adsense account to Universal Analytics property +

Through such type of integration you can get more information about the performance of your Adsense ads and you can use this insight to improve the ads performance.

More details about Google Adsense and Universal Analytics integration can be found here: https://support.google.com/adsense/answer/2495976?hl=en 

12. Add Google Adwords account to Universal Analytics property +

Through such integration you can share the data between two accounts. You can then analyse the behaviour of the visitors coming from your AdWords ads in your Universal Analytics reports. This is something which is not possible through Google Adwords reporting interface.

You can then also import conversions and other metrics like bounce rate, session duration etc from Universal Analytics to adwords, take advantage of enhanced remarketing and enhanced multi-channel funnel reports.

To find out more details about Universal Analytics and Adwords integration, check out this post: Complete Guide to Google Adwords Analytics 

13. Make sure that auto-tagging is enabled in Google Adwords account +

When you manually tag your Adwords ads URLs, the Universal Analytics Adwords reports show results only by campaign and keywords.

When you enable auto-tagging, UA Adwords report provide detailed information about Adwords campaign.

As soon as you link your Adwords account to your analytics account, auto tagging is enabled by default. But sometimes you may find the auto tagging disabled (may be someone in the past thought of manually tagging the Adwords ads URLs or didn’t know what he was playing with).

To enable auto tagging in Adwords, check out this article: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1033981?hl=en-GB 

14. Make sure auto-tagging is working properly +

There are many factors (like third party redirects, encoded URLs and server settings) which can prevent auto-tagging from working properly by dropping the GCLID parameter from the landing page URL.

Dropped GCLID parameter cause Universal Analytics to report Google Adwords traffic as organic traffic rather than paid search traffic.

Add ‘?gclid=test’ parameter to the end of the destination URL of your Adwords ad like http://www.yoursite.com/?gclid=test.

Copy paste the modified URL into the address bar of your browser window and press enter.

If URL of the resulting page doesn’t display ‘gclid=test’ then the auto-tagging is not working.

15. Update your Universal Analytics tracking code to support Display Advertising +

To use the display advertising feature for Universal Analytics, you need to add one line of code to your UA tracking code:

<script>

(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){

(i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o),

m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m)

})(window,document,’script’,’//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js’,’ga’);

ga(‘create’, ‘UA-XXXXXX-XX’, ‘example.com’);

ga(‘require’, ‘displayfeatures’);

ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’);

</script>

Note: without making this code change you won’t be able to create remarketing list in Universal Analytics and you won’t be able to implement ‘Dynamic Remarketing’  

16. Add Google Merchant Center account to Google Adwords account +

The advantage of such type of integration is that not only you can use product listing ads in Google Adwords but you can also implement ‘Dynamic Remarketing’ in Universal Analytics.

More details about Adwords and Merchant center integration can be found here: https://support.google.com/merchants/answer/188479?hl=en-GB 

17. Create remarketing list in Universal Analytics +

Create and use remarketing lists based on user behaviour. Through remarketing list you can target all those people who abandon your shopping cart via special ads and offers.

More details about creating this list can be found here: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/2611268?hl=en&utm_id=ad 

18. Tag your website with enhanced ecommerce tags +

You need to tag your shopping cart and checkout pages with enhanced ecommerce tag. Use the ec.js plugin. More details can be found here: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/6014857

If you don’t tag your website with enhanced ecommerce tags then you won’t be able to implement dynamic remarketing in Universal Analytics.

19. Identify Enhanced Ecommerce tags as Dynamic Attributes +

Once you have tagged your website with enhanced ecommerce tags you then need to identify the tags as dynamic attributes and link them to your Adwords account.

Follow the instructions in this article to do that: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/6002231

You need to complete this task in order to use dynamic remarketing in UA.  

20. Create Custom dimensions and Custom Metrics +

If you want to collect the type of data which Google Analytics does not automatically collect (like phone call data, CRM data etc) then you need to create custom dimensions and metrics.

You can learn more about creating custom dimensions and metrics from this article: http://www.optimizesmart.com/beginners-guide-to-universal-analytics-creating-custom-dimensions-metrics/

21. Implement Dynamic Remarketing with Universal Analytics +

Once you have created remarketing list in UA, added custom dimensions and created dynamic attributes, then you are in a position to implement dynamic remarketing which let you show remarketing ads based on the products your website users view.

You can learn more about dynamic remarketing and its implementation from here: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/3455585?hl=en&utm_id=ad 

22. Import clicks and cost data from third party advertising platforms +

You need cost data in Universal Analytics reports in order to calculate ROI of your non-adwords marketing campaigns. However in order to upload cost data you need to create a custom data source(s) first in your UA view(s).

Without custom data source, you can’t upload cost data into Universal Analytics. To learn more about creating custom data source, read this article: http://www.optimizesmart.com/advanced-attribution-modelling-google-analytics/#Importing-Cost-data-in-Google-Analytics 

 

View Level Configurations

1. Change Time Zone and Currency Settings +

Go to Admin > View > View Settings

and make sure that your view/profile has got the right timezone and currency selected. The currency that you select here will be used in ecommerce reporting

2. Exclude query parameters from UA report +

Exclude certain query parameters from UA report like session IDS, sorting parameters etc. Read this article for more details: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1010249?hl=en

3. Enable Internal Site Search Tracking +

Through internal site search you can determine how visitors search and what do they search for on your website. With this insight you can determine missing contents on your website i.e. the contents which should be there (as lot of visitors search for it) but are not there.

By analyzing internal search reports you can improve the quality of search results for key phrases and can develop better user experience. You can also identify new keywords for your search campaigns.

You can learn more about setting up site search tracking from here: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1012264?hl=en 

4. Get Administrative privileges at the view level +

If for some reason you can’t get administrative access even at the property level then try very hard to get administrative access at the view level.

Go to Admin > View  > User Management and make sure that you have got following permissions: Manage users, Edit, Collaborate, Read and Analyze

If you can’t get administrative access even at the view level then look for another client. Seriously. Without administrative access you will have a hard time configuring the UA account in a timely manner.  

5. Grant/manage others users access to your analytics view +

You can give other users access to any/all views within a property. I generally give ‘read and analyse’ access to other users to avoid accidental changes made to a view/profile.

6. Set up Goals and funnel pages in your account +

Set up all the goals and funnel pages which you discovered during your website audit and on which your client/boss agreed upon in writing. You can find more details about setting up goals and funnels from here: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1032415?hl=en 

7. Create/Edit Content Groups +

A content group is simply a collection of website contents. Through content grouping you can group your website contents and then analyze them at the Group level.

For example if you sell clothes, you can create content groups for men and women. So the men content group can contain all those product pages which sell men shirts and trousers. Similarly, women content group can contain all those product pages which sell women shirts and trousers. You can then analyze the website usage and in-page analytics of these content groups.

To learn more about creating and editing content groups, read this article: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/2853546?hl=en   

8. Apply filters to your view /Exclude Internal Traffic +

Through filters you can customize UA analytics reports and segment data.

One of the most important filter is the filter to exclude internal traffic (i.e. traffic coming from your own company).

Internal traffic can easily inflate your website usage metrics (sessions, bounce rate, page views, time on site etc) and therefore should be filtered out from your reports. So make sure that you apply this filter. You can get more information about creating filters from here: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1034823?hl=en-GB&ref_topic=1032939

Note: You should also consider using Google Analytics Opt-Out browser Add-on to exclude internal traffic as excluding internal traffic on the basis of IP address is not a full proof method.

9. Create atleast 5 views (unfiltered, test, working, organic search & annotations) for each property +

For each property that you are tracking, create at least 5 views/profiles:

1. One Unfiltered view (name it Raw Data View) which contains the raw traffic

2. One view just for testing purpose

3. One view which is used for day to day analysis.

4. One view which contains only organic search data.

5. One view just for using annotations.

Also consider creating one view for each sub domain or product/content category. Filtered views are simply views and filters used together.

Make sure that you always maintain one unfiltered website view/profile before you create filtered views. This is because once the raw data has been processed by a filter, UA can’t re-process the raw data. So if you have accidentally applied a wrong filter to your main website view then your lost data can’t be recovered.

10. Change Channel Grouping Settings +

Through this feature you can view/edit the definitions of the channels in the Acquisition Overview report and Channels reports. To use this feature go to Admin > View > Channel Settings > Channel Grouping.

11. Set up branded and generic paid search keywords +

Through such set up you can analyze the performance of your branded and generic paid search keywords. More information can be found here: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/6050679?hl=en&utm_id=ad 

12. Enable E-Commerce Tracking +

Through e-commerce reports in UA you can get detailed information about e-commerce activity on your website like total revenue generated by the website, number of orders placed, average order value, e-commerce conversion rate etc.

If you run an e-commerce website then not enabling e-commerce tracking is an analytics suicide.

I highly recommend this post to learn more about setting up ecommerce tracking: Google & Universal Analytics E-commerce Tracking – Complete Guide 

13. Enable Enhanced Ecommerce Reporting +

Enhanced ecommerce provides better insight into the customers’ purchase journey.

To learn more about enabling enhanced ecommerce, check out this article: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/6032539?hl=en-GB 

14. Setup advanced segments +

Advanced segments can be applied to historical data and to all analytics accounts and website views. This is their biggest advantage over filtered profiles and that’s why I like them.

You can use advanced segments to filter out social media traffic, traffic from referring sites or just to unleash the power of the long tail keywords.

To know more about setting up advanced segments check this article: https://support.google.com/analytics/topic/3123779?hl=en&rd=1

You can also import advanced segments from Google Analytics Solution Gallery.

15. Check/Create Annotations +

Create annotations to document important events like launch of a new design, blog post, article going viral etc. You can share your annotation publicly or privately. Learn more about it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfPx4Sus_CY&feature=youtu.be 

16. Check/Create Attribution Models +

An attribution model is a set of rules that determine how credit for conversions should be attributed to various interactions/touch points in conversion paths.

By creating and using different attribution models you can value your marketing campaigns from different perspective. You can optimally balance your digital marketing portfolio and improve ROI across all marketing channels.

To learn more about understanding and implementing attribution modelling read these two articles:

http://www.optimizesmart.com/attribution-modeling-google-analytics-ultimate-guide/

http://www.optimizesmart.com/geek-guide-implementing-attribution-modelling/

17. Check/Create Custom Channel Groupings +

A channel grouping is a set of channel labels. Through channel grouping feature you can create your own channel groups like branded search or paid search channel groups.

You can also edit the default channel grouping. To learn more, check this article: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1250116?hl=en-GB 

18. Check/Create Custom Alerts +

Through custom alerts you can monitor significant variations in your site traffic and other useful metrics like revenue. You can get automatic alerts when such variations occurs.

You should download some important custom alerts from here.

Help article on creating custom alerts: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1033021?hl=en 

19. Schedule reports to be emailed automatically +

You can instruct Google to send analytics reports to you and others daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly. You can also email reports in different file formats.

You can find more details about scheduling emails from here: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1038573?hl=en 

20. Create report shortcuts +

Through shortcut reports you can save any customization on almost any analytics report. For example you can apply filters, advanced segments and/or secondary dimension to your report and then save it as a shortcut report.

To create/edit a shortcut, check out this article: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/2676996?hl=en-GB 

 

Other Configurations

1. Add Bing Ads to your analytics account. +

Universal Analytics does not report cost data (impressions, clicks, cost, CTR, CPC) from Bing ads and treat the traffic coming from it as Bing organic traffic.

There is no way to link your Bing advertising account to your UA account. But I prefer to address this task as ‘Bing PPC – Analytics integration’ to keep reminding myself how important it is.

In order to track Bing PPC campaigns from UA you need to put special tracking code to Bing ad URLs.

Say your Bing ad URL is http://www.abc.com/.

Now to track the traffic coming from this URL you will have to add some variables (known as campaign variables) to this URL like http://www.abc.com/?utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=bing_shorts_Ads.

Use Google URL Builder: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1033867?hl=en-GB to add campaign tracking variables to Bing ads.

2. Make sure that you are tracking all types of marketing campaigns +

Make sure that you are tracking not just search marketing campaigns. If you are running other online marketing campaigns like e-mail campaigns, banner ads, affiliate programs, social media campaigns etc then they should be tracked too through campaign variables.

3. Setup custom reports +

Custom reports have same advantage as advanced segments but they provide more flexibility in terms of data retrieval and reporting. They can also be applied to historical data and to all analytics accounts and website views.

My whole analytics dashboard is full of custom reports. I don’t generally use standard reports. To learn more about setting up custom reports check out this article: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1151300?hl=en 

4. Implement Event tracking +

Track important externals links (like downloads, sign-ups, login, etc) through event tracking.

An event is a user interaction with a web page element like videos or external links.

UA can’t track such events by default as they don’t generate pageviews when they occur.

You should set up event tracking in UA to track such user interactions.

I wrote a post titled ‘Event Tracking Google & Universal Analytics – Complete Guide‘ which explains A to Z of event tracking and virtual page views in an easy to understand language. So check it out.

5. Use Cross Domain Tracking +

If your website checkout process occurs on a different domain (quite common in case of affiliate websites) or your web session spans across multiple domains then you need to use cross domain tracking. Check out this post for more details: Google Analytics cross domain tracking complete guide

Note: You should also read this post on Google Analytics Cookies to get better understanding of how cross domain tracking works.

6. Check your analytics account for Data Sampling Issues +

You need to look for data sampling issues in your reports.

If you have got data sampling issues than your metrics from ‘conversion rate’, ‘revenue’ to ‘sessions’ could be anywhere from 10% to 80% off the mark.

To read more about data sampling in Google Analytics, read this article: Google Analytics Data Sampling – Complete Guide

7. Create Profit Index report in your Universal Analytics View +

Profit Index report list profitable pages on your website. These are the pages which were most frequently viewed prior to conversions and/or transactions.

So if you wish to improve the conversion rate of your website, you need to determine such pages and make sure that they are/remain indexed and get lot of visibility in search engines and on your website.

To create a profit index report, read this article: Creating Profit Index reports in Google Analytics. 

8. Check for common Universal Analytics Mistakes +

In order to get optimum results from your analysis of Universal Analytics reports you must aim to find and fix as many of the following issues as possible. Failing to do so will almost always result in inaccurate analysis, interpretation and reporting.

These issues are:

  1. Directional Issues
  2. Data Collection Issues
  3. Data Integration issues
  4. Data Interpretation Issues
  5. Data Reporting Issues

You can find more details about these issues from the post: Common Universal Analytics Mistakes that kill your Analysis, Reporting and Conversions 

9. Track multiple sub-domains through a single view +

You can do this by using following advanced filter:

Filter name: Append hostname to request URI:
Advanced Filter:
Filter A ==> Extract A Hostname (.*)
Filter B ==> Extract B Request URI (.*)
Output to ==> Constructor Request URI $A1$B1
Field A required Yes
Filed B required Yes
Override Output field Yes
Case Sensitive No

Related Posts

Join over 5000 subscribers!
Receive an update straight to your inbox every time I publish a new article.

 

About the Author:



My business thrives on referrals, so I really appreciate recommendations to people who would benefit from my help. Please feel free to endorse/forward my LinkedIn Profile to your clients, colleagues, friends and others you feel would benefit from SEO, PPC or Web Analytics.