Google Analytics stopped working? Here are 10 ways to fix it

Sometimes Google Analytics tracking code just stop working (i.e. does not fire anymore).

Sometimes the tracking code fires but certain hit (like ‘event’ hit) just drop (i.e. not sent to the GA server).

In that case your existing or new tracking code may not work.

So how can you fix the problem?

There may or may not be an easy fix and there is certainly no ‘one size fit all’ solution.

But they are couple of things you can do to determine what has gone wrong and what can be done to fix the issue.

#1 Delete and disable the cache

You may be in a situation where you are making lot of code changes to your website but nothing really is reflecting back in your Google Analytics real time reports or via any other debugging tool you may be using.

Chances are, your CDN (like ‘Cloudflare’), cache plugin (like ‘WP Super Cache’) and/or web browser keep loading the previous version of your web page and they have cached your web page and all of its elements (images, JavaScript etc) so good (but for you so bad) that no amount of ‘browser refresh’ make any difference.

So code changes do not load correctly or do not load at all, in your web browser.

Your testing could become really hard, if you can’t see the changes you are making.

You need to delete all the existing cache and disable new cache from creating while you are making code changes or doing testing.

Also make sure that the checkbox ‘Disable Cache (while DevTools is open)’ in the Chrome developer tool settings is checked:

This setting disable browser caching for the page you are visiting while the developer console is still open.

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#2 Use Google Tag Assistant and check ‘where to optimize’

Google Tag Assistant is a chrome extension through which you can identify,validate and troubleshoot the installation of various Google Tags on a web page.

Follow the steps below:

Step-1: Install Google Tag Assistant chrome extension and then enable it.

Step-2: Install Google Analytics debugger chrome extension and then enable it. The GA debugger, reports on error messages and warnings related to your tracking code in the developer console and tag assistant.

Step-3: Switch on the Google Analytics debugger by clicking on its icon on the top right hand side of your browser address bar:

turn on ga debugger

Step-4: Right click on the tag assistant icon and then select ‘Options:

tag assistant options

Step-5: Change the ‘Level of Details’ for all Google tags to ‘Detailed Information’:

detailed information

Step-6: Within the tag assistant options, make sure that the ‘Recording: Follow Links Across Tabs’ checkbox is checked:

recording follow links

Step-7: Click on the Google Tag Assistant icon again and then click on the ‘Menu’ button. Make sure that ‘Auto Validation’ and ‘GA Debug’ settings are turned ON:

tag assistant menu button

Step-8: Navigate to that web page of your website where you want to test your Google Analytics tracking code.

Step-9: Click on the tag assistant icon and look for the following message ‘No Google Analytics HTTP responses because….’ under the section ‘where to optimize’:

No Google Analytics HTTP responses’ mean your Google Analytics Tracking code is not firing.

In my case, I am using ‘Google Analytics opt out add on’ chrome extension which has disabled Google Analytics.

So i am aware of why the GA tag is not firing.

Make sure that you are not using any similar browser add-on/extension which disable Google Analytics in your browser.

Sometimes firewall settings can disable Google Analytics.

There could be many other reasons of a GA pageview hit getting dropped like:

  • Web page missing the Google Analytics Tracking Code (GATC)
  • Web page contains invalid GATC
  • Web page taking too long to send the pageview hit.
  • Google tag manager not firing the Google Analytics tag.

Google tag assistant may reveal what might be going wrong on your web page by displaying a warning or error:

#3 Use developer console and look for ‘abort’ and ‘command ignored’ error messages

Google developer console is a debugging tool which is already built in chrome browser.

So you don’t need to install it separately. Just right click on a web page and select ‘Inspect’ to open it.

Follow the steps below:

Step-1: Navigate to that web page of your website where you want to test your Google Analytics tracking code.

Step-2: Right click on a web page and select ‘Inspect’ (in the chrome web browser). 

This action will open the developer console at the bottom of the web page:

google developers console

Step-3: Click on the ‘Console’ tab.

Step-4: Right click on the console and then select ‘clear console’:

Step-6: Reload your web page in the web browser and then look for error messages related to aborting:

#4 Read the GIF Request (Tracking Beacon)

The Google analytics tracking code sends hit and browser data to Google Analytics server via a transparent GIF image file called _utm.gif.

This file is requested for each hit.

Through developer console you can read this file:

Sometimes you just won’t see the Google Analytics hit (pageview, screenview, event etc) you want to send to GA server in the tracking beacon. 

Whenever a hit is dropped, aborted or a Google Analytics command is ignored, it means your tracking code is not working the way it is supposed to work.

#5 Use Google Tag Assistant recording to find dropped hits

Google Tag Assistant Recording is one of the feature of the Google Tag Assistant through which you can validate tags across multiple web pages.

Google Tag Assistant by default can not validate tags across multiple web pages.

So you would need to use its recording feature.

Follow the steps below:

Step-1: Click on the Google Tag Assistant icon again and then click on ‘Menu’ button > ‘Show in separate tab’. The ‘Show in separate tab’ menu item will open the Google Tag Assistant in a separate browser tab:

show in seperate tab

Step-2: Click on the ‘Record’ button at the bottom of the ‘Result of Tag Analysis’ window:

Step-3: Now reload the web page from where you want to start the recording. This reload will send a request/hit to Google Tag Assistant and your recording will actually start.

Step-4: Click on the ‘Stop recording’ button:

stop recording

Step-5: Click on the ‘Show Full Report‘ button. Once you clicked on this button, you will be redirected to ‘Google Tag Assistant Recordings’.

Step-6: Click on the ‘Google Analytics Reports’ tab:

Google Analytics Report

Step-7: Select your GA property and view. You will then see the ‘Google Analytics report’ of the tag assistant recording.

Step-8: Scroll down to the bottom of the Google Analytics report and click on ‘Page Load’ under the ‘Flow’ section:

Step-9: Click on ‘Hit 1’:

Step-10: Now look at the message under ‘Mutation’. It should be something like the one below:

If the hit is dropped then you may see a message like the one below:

Sometimes errors and warnings are prominently displayed by tag assistant recordings which you can find under the ‘Alerts’ section:

Check the official Tag Assistant Recordings alert message reference guide to learn more about these error messages and what action can be taken to fix them.

#6 Avoid non-standard implementation of Google Analytics

There are only two recommended way to install Google Analytics on a website:

#1 By directly placing the Google Analytics Tracking Code in the head section of all the web pages of a website.

#2 By using a tag management solution like Google Tag Manager.

When you deploy the Google Analytics tracking code in any other way, your GA set up may no longer remain a standard implementation.

Following are examples of non standard implementation of Google Analytics:

  • Google Analytics tracking code (GATC) placed outside the head section (<head> …</head>) of a web page.
  • GATC being executed via an external JavaScript file.
  • GATC contains Google Analytics commands which your current GA analytics library does not recognise / recommend.
  • GATC contains invalid formatting (extra comma, extra whitespaces, bracket or semicolon)
  • GATC contains invalid casing (GA function names are case sensitive)
  • GATC deployed via a third party plugin.
  • Using multiple Google Analytics tracking code on same page.

There are many webmaster who use a third party plugin to install Google Analytics tracking on their website.

These plugins often modify the original Google Analytics tracking code by:

# Changing the name of the tracking object.

# Adding new Google Analytics commands

# Adding their own lines of codes in between the Google Analytics tracking code.

Now if something goes wrong with the plugin itself or you customised the Google Analytics tracking code in such a way that the plugin no longer communicates with the GA JavaScript then your tracking may stop working.

Your testing could become really hard, if you are not familiar with the plugin code and how it is supposed to work with Google Analytics.

Unless you are a ‘ninja’ or ‘guru’ of Google Analytics development environment, you know exactly what you are doing and how it can affect existing website tracking and/or you can decode any plugin, your best bet is to stay away from such third party plugins and stick to the standard installation of Google Analytics.

#7 Avoid customizing the standard Google Analytics tracking code

Avoid making any changes to your Google Analytics tracking code, unless you are 100% sure what you are doing.

Use a test property if you really want to learn new tricks. Avoid experimenting on a live website esp. if it does not belong to you.

If you have already changed the Google Analytics tracking code then replace it with the fresh code provided by Google Analytics.

Make sure that you copy-paste the GATC directly into the HTML of your web pages without changing its formatting or casing.

#8 Look for broken GTM container tag

Use of Google tag manager (GTM) make tag deployment very easy and efficient.

But sometimes during website updates, the container tag can break.

And when that happens all of the website tracking stop working immediately.

So if you use GTM then make sure that the container tag is still intact.

#9 Avoid non standard implementation of Google Tag Manager

There is only one recommended way to install Google Tag Manager on a website:

Add one part of the container tag code (the JavaScript part) in the <head>…</head> section of a web page and the other part (the iframe part) in the body section of a web page (immediately after the opening <body> tag:

When you deploy the GTM container tag code in any other way, your GA set up may no longer remain a standard implementation.

Following are examples of non standard implementation of Google Tag Manager:

  • All of the GTM container tag code added immediately after the opening <body> tag.
  • GTM container tag code added immediately before the closing </body> tag.
  • The container code deployed via an external JavaScript file.
  • Container code contains invalid formatting and/or invalid casing.
  • GTM container code deployed via another tag management solution
  • Use of multiple container codes on same web page.
  • Use of a third party plugin to install Google Tag Manager on a website.

Now I am not saying that you can not make non-standard implementation of GA/GTM work for you.

But remember, when you have got a non standard setup (the one which is not recommended by Google) you could end up creating hard to diagnose tracking issues.

Often a non standard tracking setup behaves in an unexpected way and if you are not familiar with the GA/GTM development environment then you could make your testing and debugging unnecessarily difficult.

#10 Avoid customizing the GTM container tag

They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing and this is particularly true for Google Tag Manager.

If you accidentally break your container tag while customizing it, all of your website tracking can stop working immediately.

Tread with extreme caution.

Learn about the Google Analytics Usage Trends Tool

The Google Analytics usage trend is a new tool which is used to visualise trends in your Google Analytics data and to perform trend analysis.


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Certified web analyst and founder of OptimizeSmart.com

My name is Himanshu Sharma and I help businesses find and fix their Google Analytics and conversion issues. If you have any questions or comments please contact me.

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