Sifting through all of the data you can access in Google Analytics (GA) can be frustrating for the best of us. It can be even more frustrating when the data doesn’t make sense. Often bad data can be a result of GA not being installed properly.
Here are a few tips you can use to troubleshoot your installation.
Note: If you are using Google Tag Manager (GTM) to implement your GA code on your site, you may skip Tip 1 since it will automatically apply the most current version of GA code.
Tip 1 – Make sure you are using the latest GA code
Google has produced many different GA code snippets over the years. If you added your code more than a couple of years ago chances are you are not using the latest version.
The image above shows the Global Site Tag code, which is the latest version of GA code at the time this post was written. You can quickly compare this code with what you have on your site by doing a ‘View Page Source’ on any web page of your site.
On most browsers you can do this by right clicking on a web page once your page is loaded. It will bring up a menu, as shown in the image to the left, which should give you the option to ‘View page source’. Hopefully you will find the latest version of GA code is already installed, as show above. If not, you should have your web developer update your code for you.
You can also use the web site GA Checker, mentioned in Tip 2, to find out which version of GA code is installed on your site.
Tip 2 – Make sure your GA code is on every page of your site
You would be surprised how often we audit a site and discover that GA code isn’t installed on every web page of the site. Missing analytics code on your site’s pages will wreak havoc with your Analytics’ data. Viewing source code, as described above is great for quickly checking a specific web page, but this is not practical for checking an entire web site larger than 10 pages or so. Luckily there is a free web site tool that you can use to not only check GA code installation for you entire site, but it will also report which version of GA code is installed on your site. The site is called GA Checker and it is a real timesaver. The image below will give you an idea of what a GA Checker report might look like. As you can see in the following example, this reports shows that the site is still using an older version of GA code, Analytics Classic, and not the newer, Global Site Tag, version.
That said, your site may be using Google Tag Manager to install your site’s GA code. If your Google Analytics account is reporting visitor activity from your site and GA Checker does not show GA code installed on any pages of your site, then your site is likely using GTM to install your GA code. Simply choose the ‘Tag Manager’ report tab (right beside the ‘Analytics’ tab) to see if you have Tag Manager with the same GTM ID code installed on all of your web pages. As mentioned earlier, any site using GTM to install Analytics will always have the latest version of GA code installed.
Tip 3 – Check your marketing automation platform
Sometimes checking your site’s pages is not enough, though. With many midsize businesses using marketing automation platforms like Pardot and Marketo we are finding more and more instances where a site’s GA code is missing from its marketing automation pages. Missing analytics code on a site’s marketing pages is just as problematic for your Analytics data as having it missing from your site’s web pages.
In most cases these marketing automation pages will reside in a subdomain of the main web site. For instance, example.com may use a subdomain like info.example.com for its marketing automation pages. Luckily GA Checker has a setting that allows you to check all subdomain pages as well simply by setting the Include Subdomains slider to ‘Allow’ before your run a GA Checker report on your web site.
Contact your web developer if you find that your site doesn’t have the most current version of GA code installed, or that some of your pages are missing GA code (or GTM code). Please note that these tips and tools can’t guarantee your GA code is error-free, although if everything seems to be tracking normally after following these tips, then it can generally be assumed the GA code installed on your pages is correct.
Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about your Google Analytics Installation and sign up for our newsletter and blog updates to get more great tips!