5 Ways to Check if Google Analytics is Working

Google Analytics is the lifeline for marketers to understand performance and make decisions based on website or app usage data.

In my decade of working with clients, about half of the new clients I work with haven’t set up GA (Google Analytics) correctly.

Typical issues stem from duplicate tag implementation, tag manager configuration, cross-domain tracking, and more.

Whether you’re launching a new site, redesigning an old one, or merging multiple websites, here are five ways to check if Google Analytics is working.

1. Perform a Google Analytics tracking audit

One of the first steps in this process is to develop clear documentation of:

  • What accounts, properties, and views does your Google Analytics need? sink in?
  • Which GA tracking tags should be used on all pages? Should certain GA tags be used for certain parts of the site (eg blog, microsite, internal knowledge base section)?
  • How are beacons deployed on the site? By manual insertion in the global CMS modules or via a third-party tag manager?
  • What events (e.g. button clicks or form submissions) are tracked on the site who need precise monitoring?

This exercise allows us to identify the pages on which the Google Analytics tracking code is triggered or on which it is not at all.

howling frog and other exploration tools allow us to identify these large-scale issues.

Here are the steps in Screaming Frog to run this type of crawl to identify pages on your site where the Google Analytics tracking code may be missing:

Step 1: Click on Configuration > Custom > Look for.

Screenshot from Screaming Frog, July 2022

2nd step: Depending on whether you are running Google Analytics tracking via the Tag Manager or via direct script insertion, you will add the unique identifier of the respective system (e.g. GTM-######, UA-### ### ###-#, G-##########) here so that Screaming Frog scans all subdomains on site to see where it is unable to find this identifier in the source code.

Screaming Frog Stage 2Screenshot from Screaming Frog, July 2022

Step 3: Enter your domain and click beginning.

This will crawl your site’s subdomains that are linked from your root URL.

If you have microsites that are not linked to your main site, then Screaming Frog probably won’t crawl those pages.

Screaming Frog Step 3Screenshot from Screaming Frog, July 2022

The result of this analysis will show you the percentage of pages on the site that do not contain your tracking code.

Screaming Frog Step 4Screenshot from Screaming Frog, July 2022

2. Identify duplicate tracking code using the GTM/GA debug tool in Chrome

A common mistake marketers make is to inadvertently deploy tracking code on the site multiple times.

This often happens during CMS (content management system) migrations, domain consolidations, or redesigns due to a lack of documentation of existing scanning requirements.

The Chrome GTM/GA Browser Debug Tool allows us to quickly see which GA and GTM tags are firing on a page as we navigate from page to page.

Here is how you can use the GTM/GA debug tool to see if there is a duplicate tracking code.

GTM GA inspection toolGTM/GA test tool screenshot, July 2022

When testing this on your site, make sure you only see one page view from one GA account that fires when you go to each page.

If you see multiple pageviews triggering when you load a single page, you’ll know you’re counting analytics data at least twice and likely overriding all other metrics you’re tracking in GA.

3. Explore real-time Google Analytics reports to see if pageviews are firing

With Google Analytics’ real-time view, you can run tests on your site to see how many people are there down to the second.

If you are unsure if your Google Analytics code is working properly, go to the main GA page.

Click on Real time in the left navigation and browse location and content reports to test tracking on different sections of your site.

Since tracking issues tend to occur when accessing specific subdomains or crossing domains, use GA’s real-time reporting feature to see if you can identify your individual user activity. on the site.

Google Analytics in real timeGoogle Analytics screenshot, July 2022

4. Investigate Google Tag Manager

Tag managers allow marketers to manage the triggering of all their tracking scripts from one place.

One of the main advantages of using a tag manager is that if your tag management code is placed on every page of your site, you can easily insert tracking scripts without having to constantly rely on IT or a developer.

Google Tag Manager is the most common solution and is a free tool for all webmasters.

Another problem that marketers often face occurs when they use a combination of a tag management system in addition to manually inserting scripts on individual pages or sections of the site.

This is common because tag management systems are often introduced after a site has manually implemented tags for a period of time.

This creates redundancy in tracking scripts and requires extensive auditing to move everything into a single, organized tag management system.

If you use Google Tag Manager, here are the steps to “preview” the scripts that fire on your site.

Step 1: Log in to Google Tag Manager and click Pexam.

Overview of Google Tag Manager Screenshot of Google Tag Manager, July 2022

2nd step: Enter the page of the site you want to test.

Submit Google Tag Manager PreviewScreenshot of Google Tag Manager, July 2022

Step 3: see which tags are firing and not firing on this specific URL.

See which tags are firing and not firing on this specific URLScreenshot of Google Tag Manager, July 2022

In this “preview” mode, Google can also track scrolling and clicks.

So if you are looking to use event tracking on button clicks, this will allow you to see if the clicks are triggering event tracking scripts on the site.

5. Use Chrome Developer Tools to Identify Scripts Triggering in Your Browser

Chrome Developer Tools allow us to gather information in a linear visualization around the different content that loads on a page.

To see if Google Analytics is firing on your page, navigate to any page on your site in your Chrome browser and right-click.

Click on Inspect.

Then go to Network tongue.

Chrome inspection elementChrome Inspect Element screenshot, July 2022

Click Refresh on your browser and watch to see the various content and scripts loading on the page.

From there, type “collect” or “gtm” in the search bar to see if the Google Analytics code was triggered.

Chrome inspection elementChrome Inspect Element screenshot, July 2022

This also gives you a second chance to ensure that the Google Analytics tracking code only loads once (similar to number 3).

An additional consideration related to GDPR, privacy tracking and CMS

In some CMS and beacon management systems, it is possible to configure tracking according to local privacy laws such as GDPR (EU General Data Protection Regulation) or CCPA ( California Consumer Privacy Act).

If you’re having tracking issues, you’ll need to explore the impact of the on/off feature on pageviews, events, and conversions tracking data.

There are several tools you can use to diagnose onsite GA tracking issues.

As a marketer, your biggest opportunity is to familiarize yourself with Chrome’s developer tools, tag management systems, and crawler tools to ensure you can audit tracking codes against marketing goals. your organization.

More resources:

Featured Image: Song_about_summer/Shutterstock

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