Google Analytics Audit Checklist

Table of Contents for Google Analytics Audit Checklist

  1. Check your tracking code implementation
  2. Check if the default URL is set up correctly
  3. Check if bot traffic is excluded
  4. Check If the demographics and interest reports are enabled
  5. Check if your website is added to your referral exclusion list
  6. Check if the currency and time zone are set up correctly
  7. Check if Google products are linked properly
  8. Check if site search settings is enabled
  9. Check if you have enabled ecommerce settings
  10. Have you configured the master view, raw view and test view
  11. Check if filters are added to the view correctly
  12. Check if goals are set up correctly 
  13. Check if the search console linking is done properly
  14. Validate data in the real time reports
  15. Check If your hostname is captured correctly in your reports
  16. Check if any PII information is captured in your reports

Before making any business decisions about the data collected in your Google Analytics tool, we need to make sure that we have collected a complete set of data and it is as accurate as possible.

This is where the Google Analytics checklist comes in handy to keep your data accurate and actionable.

Without any further delay, let us get straight into the topic of our audit checklist. Here’s a complete 16-step checklist to ensure your Google Analytics is properly configured.

In this article, we will learn how to validate if Google Analytics is capturing data correctly step by step.

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#1 Check your tracking code implementation

First things first, the main point in terms of data collection is the implementation of the tracking code on your website. 

The main focus of this step is to add tracking code to your website and make sure that all the pages on your site are tracked correctly.

Tracking code validation can be done by two methods:

  1. Using the Google Tag Assistant Chrome extension
  2. Using the developer tools on your website

Let us see how to validate this step, in detail. 

Validation using Tag Assistant Chrome Extension:

Step-1: Login to your Google Analytics account.

Step-2: Click on the ‘Admin’ section in the left-hand side corner.

Admin section 1

Step-3: Select ‘Tracking info’ under the ‘Property’ column.

Tracking Info

Step-4: Now select ‘Tracking code’ which is available under ‘Tracking info’.

Tracking code

Step-5: When you select the tracking code on the right-hand side you will notice that the tracking ID is provided, as shown below, which starts with UA-XXXX-XX.

Tracking ID

Step-6: Now, download the Google Tag Assistant extension from your web store. Load your website URL in the new tab and enable the Tag Assistant extension. 

Tag Assistant

Step-7: Once you refresh your page, you will notice that the Tag Assistant shows the tags loaded on the page and checks if the Google Analytics tracking code is loaded.

Google Analytics Tag

Step-8: If the Google Analytics tracking code is loaded properly and showing a blue colour on the left-hand side it means that the tracking code is implemented properly and collecting data.

Validation using developer tools on the website:

Step-1: Load your website URL in a new tab in the Chrome browser.

Step-2: Open developer tools on your page by using the command F12.

Step-3: Click on the ‘Network’ tab in developer tools, as shown below.

Network tab in console

Step-4: Filter for ‘UA-’ and refresh the page. You should now see the tags firing on the page.

Filter tracking code

Step-5: Click on the results displayed and you will see the tracking code under the header section.

network tracking ID

Step-6: Make sure that tracking code that you see in the ‘Tracking info’ in Property settings’ and on your website are the same.

Note that tracking code placement on your website also plays an important role. Learn where to implement the tracking code in Google Analytics.

#2 Check if the default URL is set up correctly

Set the default URL correctly in your view settings. This should be the same as your home page address and make sure you are selecting SSL (HTTPS or HTTP) correctly. 

Let’s see the steps to validate this:

Step-1: Click on the ‘Admin’ settings in Google Analytics.

Step-2: Now under ‘View’, click on ‘View settings’.

View Settings

Step-3: Enter the website URL in the ‘Basic settings’ section and from the drop-down list select the proper SSL for your website.

Default URL in View settings

Step-4: Click on ‘Save’ at the bottom.

#3 Check if bot traffic is excluded

Bot traffic is non-human traffic to your website generated by spiders and robots. It is a kind of spam traffic which should be excluded in your reports. 

Google Analytics has a feature that excludes all the known bots.

Step-1: Log in to your Google Analytics account.

Step-2: Click on ‘Admin’ settings and now select ‘View’.

Step-3: Click on ‘View settings’ under ‘View’.

View Settings

Step-4: Look for ‘Bot filtering’ and enable the checkbox.

Bot Filtering

Step-5: Click on ‘Save’.

#4 Check If the demographics and interest reports are enabled

Demographics and interest reports in Google Analytics provide information about the age and gender of the users. This report also helps us understand the interests the users expressed through their online activities.  

Step-1: Log in to your Google Analytics account.

Step-2: Click on ‘Admin’ in the left-hand side corner.

Step-3: Under ‘Property’, select ‘Property settings’, as shown below.

property settings

Step-4: Under the ‘Advertising features’ section, enable ‘Demographics and interest reports’.

Demographics and interest report

Step-5: Click on ‘Save’.

#5 Check if your website is added to your referral exclusion list

Make sure that you are adding your website to your referral exclusion list. This step is to filter out referral traffic originating from your own domain. 

This feature is to exclude certain domains from your referral traffic. If you have added any domains to this list, any traffic via these domains will not be counted as referral traffic in your reports.

Step-1: Log in to your Google Analytics account.

Step-2: Click on ‘Admin’ in the left-hand side corner.

Step-3: Under ‘Property’, click on ‘Tracking info’, as shown below.

Tracking Info

Step-4: From the ‘Tracking info’ tab, select ‘Referral exclusion list’.

Referral Exclusion List

Step-5:  Click on ‘Add Referral Exclusion’.

Add Referral

Step-6: Enter the domain name and click on ‘Create’.

Referral domain

#6 Check if the currency and time zone are setup correctly

Make sure that you have selected the correct time zone and currency in your view settings. 

Google Analytics provides us the capability to adjust time zones per view, which is helpful for websites that operate in different time zones.

Step-1: Log in to your Google Analytics account.

Step-2: Click on ‘Admin’ in the left-hand side corner.

Step-3: Under ‘View’, click on ‘View settings’.

View Settings

Step-4: From the drop-down below, select the time zone country.

Time Zone 1

Step-5: Similarly, you can also select the currency in ‘View settings’.

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Step-6: Click on ‘Save’.

#7 Check if Google products are linked properly

Check if all Google products linked to your property are linked properly and collecting data.

 Follow the below steps to validate this.

Step-1: Log in to your Google Analytics account.

Step-2: Click on ‘Admin’ in the left-hand side corner.

Step-3:  Under the ‘Product linking’ section, click on ‘All Products’.

All Products

Step-4: On the right hand-side you will see linked products. If you see a status of ‘Actively linked. Receiving data’, it means the product is linked successfully.

product linking

Step-5: If you would like to link any new product to Google Analytics, you will see the ‘Link’ button below the product, as shown below. Click on the link and follow the instructions.

Link Adsense

#8 Check if site search settings is enabled

If your website has site search functionality it is recommended that you enable site search settings in your Google Analytics account. 

By enabling this feature, you will be able to identify the search terms used by the visitors on your website.

Step-1: Log in to your Google Analytics account.

Step-2: Click on ‘Admin’ in the left-hand side corner.

Step-3: Under ‘View’, click on the ‘View settings’.

View Settings

Step-4: Scroll towards the end of the page, you will notice ‘Site search tracking’. Enable this feature and click on ‘Save’.

Site search settings

#9 Check if you have enabled ecommerce settings

If your website has ecommerce tracking implemented, then the ‘Enable ecommerce’ switch should be turned on. If this is not enabled in Google Analytics, then you are missing out on transactional data.

Step-1: Log in to your Google Analytics account.

Step-2: Click on ‘Admin’ in the left-hand side corner.

Step-3: Under ‘View’, click on ‘Ecommerce settings’.

Ecommerce Settings

Step-4:  Enable ‘Ecommerce setup’ and click on ‘Save’.

Ecommerce Setup

#10 Have you configured the master view, raw view and test view

A view is a subset of the property in Google Analytics. Any data that you send to Google Analytics is stored in the views based on the filters applied. 

It is always recommended that you have three views for each property:

  • Raw data view
  • Master view
  • Test view

Raw data view: This view is created by default when you create a property. It doesn’t have any filters applied. This view should be left untouched and used to keep your raw data intact. You can call it ‘Unfiltered view- DO NOT DELETE’, because it has all the data collected within this view, and it does not have any filtered data.

Master view: This is the main view that you use to check your website performance every day. This view has filters that filter out internal traffic, referrals and bot traffic. Business decisions should be made based on the data collected in this view.

Test View: As the name suggests, this view is used to test any new filters and see how they affect the traffic collected. If you want to test any new filter, first apply that in the test view and when you feel that this is working as expected then it can be applied to the master view.

#11 Check if the filters are added to the view correctly

In Google Analytics filters are used by the view to include, exclude, and search and replace a subset of data collected by the website. Every website needs at least two basic filters; excluding internal IP addresses, and filtering URLs to lowercase. 

Let’s see how to filter out the internal IP from your website.

Step-1: Log in to your Google Analytics account.

Step-2: Click on ‘Admin’ in the left-hand side corner.

Step-3: Under ‘View’, click on ‘Filters’, as shown below.

Google analytics Filters

Step-4: Click on the ‘Add filter’ to create a new filter.

Add Filter

Step-5: Name your filter, in our case let’s name it ‘Exclude Internal IP’ and in the filter type select ‘Custom’, as shown below:

Filter information

Step-6: Select ‘Exclude’ and in the filter field select ‘IP address’ and enter the pattern of the IP address that you would like to exclude e.g. 196.78.56.56

Filter pattern

Step-7: Click on ‘Save’.

#12 Check if the goals are set up correctly 

Every business has a different set of goals that they would like to track. Goals are nothing but user activities on your websites. You can set up goals when a user completes a purchase, or when a specific page is been viewed, etc. 

You need to check if your goals are set up and collecting data properly.

Step-1: Login to your Google Analytics account.

Step-2: Click on the ‘Admin’ section in the left-hand side menu.

Admin section 1

Step-3: Under ‘View’, click on ‘Goals’.

goals

Step-4: Click on ‘New goal’ or you can also import goals from the Solution Gallery. Note: when you import goals from the Solution Gallery only the template is added.

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Step-5: Select the type of goal that you would like to set up. either using the predefined template or custom, and click on ‘Continue’.

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Step-6: The next step is to give a name to the goal and select the type of goal that you would like to create.

goal description 1

Step-7: Now, provide the configuration for your goal. For example, if you are creating a sign up goal, provide the pathname for your sign up page in ’Goal configuration’, as shown below, and click on ‘Save’.

goal configuration 3

To learn more about goal set up and types of goals, refer to this article: How to set up goals in Google Analytics.

#13 Check if the search console linking is done properly

Search console linking is an essential step in the SEO process. Linking the search console to your Google Analytics property will let you know the keywords that the users typed in Google search in order to find your website.

Step-1: Log in to your Google Analytics account.

Step-2: Click on the ‘Admin’ section on the left-hand side menu and select ‘Property’.

Admin section 1

Step-3:  Under the ‘Product linking’ section, click on ‘All Products’.

All Products 1

Step-4: Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on ‘Link search console’ and follow the instructions.

Search console linking

Step-5: Once the setup is done, click on ‘Done’.

search console settings

Till now we have looked into different configurations and settings that need to be enabled to make sure that Google Analytics is collecting data properly. Now, let’s validate the reports as well.

#14 Validate data in the real time report

The real time report should be the first thing to check to validate that the tracking code is working fine. 

This report provides the number of users currently on your website. It provides detailed information about the users, including the name of the page that they are currently looking at on your site, location, events, conversions, etc.

Step-1: Log in to your Google Analytics account.

Step-2: Select ‘Real time’ reports from the left-hand side menu.

Real Time report

Step-3: Click on the ‘Overview’ tab under ‘Real time’ reports.

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Step-4: On the right-hand side you will see the active users on your website. 

Real time users

Step-5: You can also view active pages, top keywords, referrals and events, etc in this report.

Real time report overview

#15 Check if your hostname is captured correctly in your reports

The technology report can be used to troubleshoot traffic anomalies and cross-domain strategy. Check this report to find out if your domains are captured correctly with the right SSL.

If you notice that there are other domains that are appearing in the technology report then you can create an exclude filter to filter out this traffic.

Step-1: Log in to your Google Analytics account.

Step-2: Select ‘Audience’ reports from the left-hand side menu.

Audience Report

Step-3: Under ‘Audience’, select ‘Technology’, as shown below.

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Step-4: Select ‘Network’ and as the primary dimension click ‘Hostname’.

Hostname

Step-5: Make sure that your hostname is captured correctly in this report.

#16 Check if any PII information is captured in your reports

Avoid sending any PII information in your Google Analytics reports

PII is personal identifiable information such as email address, phone number, SSN etc. 

Google is very strict about their terms and policies. Any account capturing PII information will be blocked.

To check if you are capturing any PII information, follow the below steps:

Step-1: Login to your Google Analytics reports.

Step-2: Select the ‘Behaviour’ tab from the left-hand side menu.

Behaviour

Step-3: Click on ‘All Pages’ under the ‘Site content’ menu.

All Pages

Step-4: In the search field on the right-hand side, enter ‘@’ and search. Similarly, search for phone numbers as well.

Google Analytics Audit Checklist

Step-5: If there are no results then it means that there is no PII information captured in your reports.

You have now successfully learnt how to validate that your Google Analytics is working properly. 

If the above-mentioned steps are working fine, then you can assume that the data collected in your Google Analytics reports is accurate.

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