Creating your own Google Analytics Tag Auditing System

Tag auditing is used to identify various tags (tag is a piece of JavaScript code) on a website for the purpose of:

In tag auditing, we identify all the tags currently being deployed on a website. It doesn’t matter whether these tags fire or not. They need to be identified and then updated, migrated or removed.

There are three methods through which you can identify various tags on a website:

  1. Tag auditing tools
  2. Manually
  3. Website scraper tools

Tag Auditing Tools

There are various free and paid tag auditing tools available in the market.

The one which I frequently use are:

  1. Google Tag Assistant
  2. Ghostery
google tag assistant

Google Tag Assistant

Google Tag Assistant is a Chrome extension through which you can identify and validate the implementation of various Google Tags fired on a web page.

However, there are three shortcomings of Google Tag Assistant:

  1. It can’t identify and validate tags across a website.
  2. It doesn’t work for non-Google tags
  3. It can’t identify tags which don’t fire (as they are either broken or waiting for an event to occur first)
Ghostery

Ghostery

Ghostery is a Chrome extension through which you can identify all the tags (both google and non-Google) which fire on a web page.

This extension also lets you block tags which could be useful in debugging tracking issues:

Ghostery blocking tags

Just like Google Tag Assistant, it has its own shortcomings:

  • It can’t identify tags across a website.
  • It can’t identify tags which don’t fire (as they are either broken or waiting for an event to occur first)

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Manual Tag Auditing

I manually search for a tag on a web page if it is not picked up by Google Tag Assistant or Ghostery. Generally, this happens when a tag is broken and thus can not be fired on page load.

For example, if your GTM container code is broken (maybe due to formatting issues) then it won’t be picked up by Google Tag Assistant. In that case, you look into the source code of the page, search for ‘gtm.js’ file to find the location of the GTM container code and determine what is wrong with the code.

I also do manual tag auditing while diagnosing ecommerce tracking issues.

Generally, ecommerce tracking code is placed on order confirmation page which can not be accessed directly through any third party tag auditing tool or website scraper.

In fact, any web page which is hidden behind a login or some sort of authentication system can not be scanned by any third-party tool and manual auditing is required.

Website Scraper Tools

Website scraper tools like Screaming Frog SEO spider can be used to identify tags across a website of any size.

I use Screaming Frog for tag auditing and for diagnosing tracking issues. Don’t be fooled by its name. It is much more than an SEO tool.

It is a powerful website crawler through which you can identify any piece of code (and its occurrences) across a website of any size and it is not very expensive either. There are other better alternatives to Screaming Frog, when it comes to tag auditing but they will cost you thousands of dollars a year, a price not many are ready to pay.

Also, no paid tag auditing tool I know is able to audit Google Analytics tags the way I am going to show you in the next few minutes.

My tag auditing system will help you in identifying different types of Google Analytics trackings installed on a website like:

  • Event Tracking
  • Cross-domain tracking
  • Social Interactions tracking
  • User ID
  • Custom dimensions
  • Custom metrics
  • and many more

Through my tag auditing system, you can:

  1. Identify the pages where GA/GTM tags are found.
  2. Identify the pages where GA/GTM tags are not found.
  3. Identify the pages where data layers are found or not found.
  4. Identify any tag whether it was fired or not.
  5. Identify old GA configurations, the ones based on Classic GA traditional syntax or even older urchin syntax.
  6. Identify non-Google tags and their location.
  7. Identify any type of GA tracking
  8. Scan any number and type of tags and technologies used on a website.

Custom Google Analytics Tag Auditing System

Let us suppose you want to audit your website for following tags and technologies:

  1. Universal Analytics Tracking Code
  2. Classic Google Analytics Configuration
  3. Universal Analytics Cross-domain Auto linking
  4. Universal Analytics event tracking
  5. Facebook Custom Audience

You want to scan your website to find the pages which contain or do not contain these tags.

To do this follow the steps below:

Step-1: Open Screaming Frog SEO Spider tool and then go to Configuration > Spider:

Screaming frog configuration spider

Step-2: Uncheck following checkboxes to speed up your crawl:

spider configuration

  1. Check images
  2. Check CSS
  3. Check JavaScript
  4. Check SWF
  5. Check External Links

By unchecking these checkboxes you will greatly reduce the crawling time especially if your website has got hundred or thousands of web pages.

Step-3: Go to the Configuration menu and click on ‘Custom’:

custom menu

Step-4: Set up the following custom filters:

custom filter configuration

Note: The search strings (like analytis.js) that I have selected to find particular tags are based on the special characters which Screaming Frog SEO Spider can detect.

I am using the latest version of this crawler which is 3.3 and this version supports the following special characters:

  1. = (equals to)
  2. / (slash)
  3. . (dot)
  4. – (dash)
  5. : (colon)
  6. ‘ (single quotation mark)

Screaming Frog is not able to detect strings which contain any of the following special characters:

  1. _ (underscore)
  2. ( (parentheses)
  3. [ (bracket)
  4. ? (question mark)

Step-4: Now start the crawl and once the crawl is finished, click on the Custom tab on the right-hand side:

custom tab

Under the ‘Filter’ drop-down menu, you can see all the filters you set up before starting the crawl.

Select one of the filters from the drop-down menu.

You can now filter out all those web pages which contain or do not contain your specified tags.

You can then download the list into Excel by clicking on the ‘Export’ button and then update/remove the tag code from a page. 

Following is the list of tags along with their search string for easy reference:

Classic Google Analytics Tags

Tag Search String
1 GA traditional Tracking Code getTracker
2 GA asynchronous Tracking Code ga.js
3 Classic GA configurations gaq.push
4 Custom Variables setCustomVar
5 Traditional GA configuration pageTracker
6 Classic GA Ecommerce Tracking addTrans
7 GA Local currency setup currencyCode
8 GA Event Tracking trackEvent
9 Google Analytics Content Experiments //www.google-analytics.com/cx/api.js
10 GA Cross domain tracking – Traditional pageTracker._setDomainName (won’t work in screaming frog)
11 GA Cross domain tracking – Asynchronous setDomainName
12 GA Search Engine Configuration addOrganic
13 GA Session Timeout Configuration setSessionCookieTimeout
14 GA Campaigns Timeout Configuration setCampaignCookieTimeout
15 GA Referral exclusion Configuration addIgnoredRef
16 GA Search Terms exclusion Configuration addIgnoredOrganic
17 GA Social Interactions Tracking trackSocial
18 GA User Timings trackTiming
19 GA Enhanced link attribution pluginUrl
20 GA Content Group setPageGroup
21 Obsolete Google Analytics urchin.js

Universal Analytics Tags

Tag Search String
1 Universal Analytics Tracking Code analytics.js
2 UA Cookie Name Customization cookieDomain
3 UA Enhanced Link Attribution linkid.js
4 UA App / Screen Tracking screenview

‘appName’:

5 UA Cross Domain Tracking linkerParam
6 UA Cross Domain Auto Linking ‘require’, ‘linker’
7 Client ID clientId
8 Custom dimensions ‘dimension1′
9 Custom metric ‘metric1’
10 UA Advertising/Display Features ‘require’, ‘displayfeatures’
11 Multiple Trackers .send’, ‘pageview’
12 UA Ecommerce Tracking ‘require’, ‘ecommerce’
13 Enhanced Ecommerce Tracking ‘require’, ‘ec’
14 UA Event Tracking ‘send’, ‘event’
15 Exceptions Tracking ‘send’, ‘exception’
16 UA Plugins ‘require’,
17 UA Social Interactions ‘send’, ‘social’
18 User ID ‘userId’:
19 UA User Timings ‘send’, ‘timing’
20 UA Content Group ‘set’, ‘contentGroup

Other Marketing Tags

Tag Search String
1 Google Adwords Remarketing var google_remarketing_only = true (won’t work in screaming frog)
2 Google Adwords Conversion Tracking var google_remarketing_only = false (won’t work in screaming frog)
3 Crazy Egg script.crazyegg.com
4 Kissmetrics //i.kissmetrics.com/i.js
5 Inspectlet //cdn.inspectlet.com/inspectlet.js
6 Facebook Conversion Tracking Facebook Conversion Code
7 Facebook Custom Audience ‘addPixelId’
8 Mix Panel cdn.mxpnl.com
9 Optimizely cdn.optimizely.com
10 Google Tag Manager gtm.js
11 GTM Data Layer dataLayer.push

var dataLayer

12 Adobe Site Catalyst assets.adobedtm
13 AdRoll adroll.com

Other article you will find useful: Cross domain tracking in Google Tag Manager

Other articles on specialized tracking in Google Analytics

  1. Ecommerce Tracking in Google Analytics – Tutorial
  2. Event Tracking via Google Tag Manager – Tutorial
  3. Event Tracking in Google Analytics – Tutorial
  4. Guide to Google Analytics Store Visits Tracking
  5. Offline Conversion Tracking in Google Analytics – Tutorial
  6. Implementing E-Commerce Tracking via Google Tag Manager
  7. Tracking Virtual Pageviews in Google Tag Manager – Tutorial
  8. YouTube Video tracking via Google Tag Manager
  9. How to Use Keyword Hero to Reveal Not Provided Keywords in Google Analytics
  10. Virtual pageviews in Google Analytics – Tutorial
  11. Google Analytics and YouTube Integration Tutorial
  12. Google Analytics for Facebook Tutorial
  13. Google Analytics Cross Domain Tracking Explained Like Never Before
  14. Using multiple Google Analytics tracking codes on web pages
  15. The one thing that you don’t know about PayPal.com and the referral exclusion list
  16. Calculated Metrics in Google Analytics – Tutorial
  17. Creating your own Google Analytics Tag Auditing System
  18. Tracking Site Search without Query Parameter in Google Tag Manager
  19. Tracking true referrals in Google Analytics when using PayPal and other payment gateways
  20. Phone Call Tracking in Google Analytics and Beyond
  21. Learn to Track Qualified and Won Leads in Google Analytics
  22. Introduction to Postbacks in Google Analytics
  23. Google Analytics Recurring Revenue and Subscriptions Tracking Tutorial
  24. How to track the impact of cookie consent on website traffic in Google Analytics
  25. Tracking Offline Conversions in Google Ads
  26. Implementing Scroll Tracking via Google Tag Manager
  27. Scroll Tracking via Scroll Depth Trigger in Google Tag Manager
  28. Site Search Tracking In Google Analytics Without Query Parameters
  29. Video Tracking via YouTube Video Trigger In Google Tag Manager
  30. How to Correctly Measure Conversion Date & Time in Google Analytics
  31. Google Analytics Social Tracking – Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and LinkedIn
  32. Google Analytics Cross Domain Tracking (ga.js)
  33. Tracking Twitter and Linkedin Social Interactions in Google Analytics
  34. Creating Content Group in Google Analytics via tracking code using gtag.js
  35. Tracking Site Search in Google Analytics with Query Parameters
  36. Understanding site search tracking in Google Analytics
  37. Creating and Using Site Search Funnel in Google Analytics
  38. Learn to Setup Facebook Pixel Tracking via Google Tag Manager
  39. Setting up & Tracking AMP Pages in Google Analytics
  40. Setting up Sales Funnel across websites in Google Analytics
  41. Regular Expressions (Regex) for Google Analytics & Google Tag Manager – Tutorial

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Himanshu Sharma

Digital Marketing Consultant and Founder of Optimizesmart.com

Himanshu helps business owners and marketing professionals in generating more sales and ROI by fixing their website tracking issues, helping them understand their true customers' purchase journey and helping them determine the most effective marketing channels for investment.

He has over 12 years of experience in digital analytics and digital marketing.

He was nominated for the Digital Analytics Association's Awards for Excellence. The Digital Analytics Association is a world-renowned not-for-profit association that helps organisations overcome the challenges of data acquisition and application.

He is the author of four best-selling books on analytics and conversion optimization:

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