Google Analytics Account Audit
Data is worth its weight in gold. Making sure your regularly audit and manage your Google Analytic account can be the difference between making money and going out of business. I’m going to walk you through our process for auditing a Google Analytics account and making sure it meets our high standard.
Video Transcription Below. Enjoy and don’t forget to leave your comments below.
My name is Duane and hello from beautiful Vancouver. You may remember me from such conference stages as MozCon, BrightonSEO, HeroConf and SMX.
Today I want to talk about Google Analytics (GA) and the process of auditing your account. I have looked at hundreds of Google Analytics accounts over the years in this industry. I can tell you some are set up wrong and people don’t even know it.
Prep Work Before Audit Begins
There are some steps you need to take before you can audit any Google Analytics account.
- GA Access – Do you have edit or collaborate access? This needs to be both on the Property and View column of the account in questions. Account level access is a nice to have.
- Ad Account Access – Do you already have access to your clients ad accounts?
- Ecosystem – Do you know all the different tools and technology you are using.
- Time – Have a few hours of uninterrupted time to dig in and look through an account
What To Look For During GA Audit
Regardless of the size of your client and the industry they are in… I routinely look at accounts for ecommerce and SaaS brads…you will want to make sure you audit covers two areas:
Dirty Data – Looking for descriptions in the data that sits in the GA account and ad platforms (or Google Search Console if you do SEO). Sometimes you’ll find goals that don’t work or are broken. You might find revenue is not tracking as it should. Measuring the health of your account is important
Featureless – Did your account not turn on enhanced ecommerce or letting Google build remarketing list or demographic data. These often overlooked features we sometimes find no one had turned on for an account.
Starting Your GA Audit
Generally I like to start from the outside in when I take on a new client and we go through their account. I want to make sure their account meets our high standard as I said above. I also want to make sure I capture any low hanging fruit quickly before fixing anything that might take extra work and time.
One reason we make sure during our prep work that you had edit or collaborator role was to give you access to edit and tweaks the settings within the admin section of Google Analytics. Hopefully most of this will be setup correctly but you can never be to sure.
Your property is the site you are managing and where your data is getting pulled from. You have a limit of 50 properties per each Google Analytics account. So make sure you are not making extra properties unnecessarily.
Under property settings there are a couple areas I sometimes see clients not have active and turned on in their account: Demographics and Interest Reports & Users Metric in Reporting. Making sure both of these are turned on helps make sure your data from people visiting your site is being tracked inside each of Views within your Property.
If you turned on the property settings above on, then you will want to make sure Remarketing and Advertising Reporting Features are tuned on under data collection. This is going to make sure your demographics reports are usable and you can do remarketing to people coming to your site.
With GDPR coming from Europe, Google and other advertising platforms has made everyone update how long they can keep people’s data in Google Analytics. We general advice each client to set the user and event data retention period to 26 months and turn on the reset on new activity.
Referral Exclusion List
Having site exclusions helps make sure sites you own don’t show up under Referrals in your Property. This will help with your data tracking and making sure you understand how people are converting on your site. If you use Shopify for your ecommerce business, your referral exclusion list this include PayPal, Checkout.Shopify.com or other payment gateways you use.
Google Analytics is a one piece of software in your data and marketing ecosystem that needs to talk with other pieces of software including Google Ads, Google Search Console and even non-Google products like Bing Ads.
For most clients, making sure Google Ads and Google Search Console are linked to the right accounts is a good start. Click on All Products and then Adjust Link to make sure each piece of software to connect with the right accounts.
You can even look at Google Play if you have an app or Search Ads 360 if you use the Google bid management platform.
Audiences are the backbone of your marketing as you grow a business. We try to get brands to make sure they are using audience lists in Google Analytics as they offer more flexibility and can allow you to build lists based on all your data sets. Just makes sure you select your right Google Ads account to have these lists show up in.
With the Property limit of 50 above, each property can have a max of 25 Views. A view could be all just mobile traffic or just your USA traffic. Beyond having a Raw Data View that has no rules, filters setup on it. We encourage brands to only setup a new view if it’s for data they are going to need on an ongoing basis and want a way to quickly see that selection of data. A Raw Data View is allows you to see if a change your make to another property is block data in your account. It’ll your fail safe to make sure you don’t miss out on data your account.
Your settings here make sure your view is running corect. We always want to make sure your Time zone country or territory is set to your HQ time. You want to double check your Currency and Linked Google Ads Accounts are setup.
Lastly, if your site have a search bar then please make sure you setup your Site search Tracking. This will let you know what people are searching for on your site. This could bring up opportunities to learn about new products people want to buy or how you name a product is different from how people search for it.
If you don’t have goals setups? That’s a huge red flag. Whether you track sales or trial account signup, you need a goal to understand how your marketing is going.
Ecommerce Set Up
If you help manage and ecommerce store, have Enhanced Ecommerce turned on. The data it is going product your store can not be beat. Enhanced Ecommerce works if you are on Shopify, Magento or WooCommerce. Funnel steps are a nice to have and I would only do them on something like Shopify where you customers are limited in how they can reach your checkout.
Custom Channel Grouping
This is more of an advanced setting to change and we don’t recommend it if you are new to analytics and how Google filters and processes your date. However, you can change channel groups to help you rearrange your traffic sources in a different grouping.
Did your traffic drop last night? Are you seeing less sales then last week? Did someone remove your GTM tag off your site for the second time? Setting up some alerts around your traffic and goals can help alert you sooner to a problem. Not everyone on your team is going to spend everyday in Google Analytics and it’s good to have a back up.
If you go through all of the above and make sure your settings are what they should be. Then you can be confident that when you launch your next campaign, you can tell whether it is working or not. This just covers the back-end of Google Analytics. We still need to make sure everything else is working in the front-end.
Revenue & Goals
Beyond making sure Enhanced Ecommerce is working across your Google Analytics account, you want to make sure that revenue, conversions and goals are not show a large discrepancy between what is in Google Analytics and your ad platform of choice. There will always be a discrepancy but anything over 20% or even 10% should be looked at to make sure everything is firing as it should. Make sure to look back at the length of your lookback window when checking for discrepancy between accounts. That is it for this week. See you next time.