Google Analytics: Audit & Intermediate Course Review

A learning journey with CXL Institute, in Digital Analytics

Boy, was it a full week, learning new tips & tricks from the CXL Institute. 🤓Welcome everyone to my 2nd week, reviewing the CXL Institute Minidegree for Digital Analytics.

Introduction

In this week’s post, we will cover two separate sections of the Digital Analytics Minidigree of CXL Institute. Yes, yes… I kept myself busy this week, as quarantine does not give other options.

So, let’s dive into today’s contents:

1. Google Analytics Audit: A very well structured approach to diagnose and fix any account, so Google Analytics can tell you the story it wants.

2. Google Analytics Intermediate: After our beginning journey last week, now is the time to apply intermediate-level Google Analytics skills to enhance any marketing strategy with data-driven insights.

1. Google Analytics Audit

Before we navigate through techniques and definitions, we should mention the Chrome extensions we used during this course:

1. Tag Assistant (by Google)the long-term friend of anyone interested in the digital sector. Helps you check the condition of the installed Google tags on your page including, Google Analytics, Google Ads Conversion Tracking, Google Tag Manager and more.

2. Google Analytics Debugger (by Google Analytics) — a tool offered by Google Analytics itself, prints useful information to the JavaScript console by enabling the debug version of the Google Analytics JavaScript. It can be a bit tough on the eyes, but when you manage to read it, you will love it.

3. Adswerve — dataLayer Inspector+ (by Adswerve) — a lot like Google Analytics Debugger but more friendly. You also have additional information available, such as dataLayers and duplicate hits, which makes the life of the analyst a lot more easy.

Now, let’s start the fun part…

It is recommended, if not mandatory, to create a file where you are going to note all the observations you made, during the process. I am using a Google Spreadsheet but you are free to use a paper and a pen, if that helps you. The course is separated in 6 parts, which is exactly what we are going to do:

I. Setup

Starting with the GA Setup, we want to make some notes about the account structure. This means: (i) the account name, (ii) the property ID & (iii) name, (iv) the name of the view you are auditing, (v) the total number of views appearing in the property, (vi) the version of GA that sends information to its reports and of course (vii) the GTM ID, if it is installed.

The second step of our audit is to verify some key portions of property and views. That being said, let’s see which are those:

Property Settings

  • Default URL: The default URL that is present in our property settings must be matching the URL of the site we want to track — no http(s) in front of the domain.
  • Default View: Here we have to define the main reporting view of this property.
  • Referral Exclusion list: It is mandatory for the default URL to be present (usually happens automatically with the creation of the property) and any other URL that is “embedded” to our side. For example, let’s say we have an e-store for which the payments are happening with the help of paypal.com. We should include PayPal’s URL in this list, in order to be excluded from the referral list.
  • Search Console linking: We must ensure the correct linking of the Search Console, if it is applicable.
  • Custom Dimensions: We want to have custom dimensions. Actually, we are fans of custom dimensions. Although, we want to make sure that the already implemented custom dimensions make sense.

Main View Settings

  • Website’s URL: The question we want to make to ourselves — is property’s URL matching with website’s URL? They should…
  • Bot filtering: Bot filtering is automatically enabled in the new views you create, but in case it isn’t, you want to click in this checkbox.
  • Filters: Filters is a very sensitive task that we discussed in our previous post also. We want our filters to make sense and we want to be very careful with them, because once you apply them on a view, there is no coming back. Check if the filters that they exist are correctly defined and also make sense.
  • Goals: When you go into the goals’ area, you should have one thing in mind — I have 20 goals limit, am I using them right (of course this applies to the free versions of GA)? So, you want to check if the goals are set properly, if they are active and the most important thing, if they recording conversions.
  • Search: Is the search enabled?
  • Search queries: Are the queries defined the correct way? This information is available through the All Pages report, or your site itself.
  • Google Ads: Are there any Google Ads accounts linked and are they correct?

Raw Data View Settings

  • Bot filtering: We do not want bot filtering in our raw data view.
  • Filters: We absolutely do not want filters in our raw data view.

II. Accuracy

In the accuracy part, we use the Chrome extensions I mentioned earlier. By browsing into the content of the website, we check if there is overcounting or undercounting of page views in our code.

III. Channel Groups & Site Crawl

Next stop, Channel Groups and Site Crawling.

  • For the Channel Groups audit, we are going to review first the table report under the Acquisition > All traffic > Channels. We want to see if the grouping from the default system is enough for our sources or not. If we observe a lot of sources grouped under the (Other) channel, we might want to change that. The customization of channels is happening in the view settings, where we want to review the setup of any custom grouping might appear, or any changes happened in the default channel grouping (in my — insignificant — opinion, you don’t want to change the default channel grouping, but create others).
  • For the site crawl, we are going to use a SEO tool (e.g. the Screaming Frog) to navigate through pages and find: (i) which analytics library is used within the content (ga.js, analytics.js, gtag.js), (ii) is the snippet installed in every page and finally, (iii) are there any internal UTM tracking affecting our users’ attribution.

IV. Same Page Grouping

We only have faced the issue of the same page breaking into multiple sub-URIs. An example to get all aligned — Your homepage URI is usually tracked as: /, /el/, /en/, or any other language version you have available in your site. We do not want that. We want to group all these pages together, in order to create a holistic view in our reporting tables. This is doable using two different ways, depending on the situation:

  • Filters
  • Query parameters

Try them in your testing view and see which is best for you.

V. User Interactions

The category of user interactions includes the GA events setup and also the goals setup. I won’t say much on this category of audit because I think it’s pretty straight forward. You want clean event reporting (not to many categories and labels set) and you want goals that are meet the purpose of your business.

VI. PII & EEC

The PII issue is something that it has been into our lives for a long time now and we want no indication of that happening. Search into your reports — usually All Pages and Top Events reports — and make sure you have no personal data there.

Regarding the EEC (Enhanced ECommerce), you have to run through the reports and settings and make sure that everything works property — if it is implemented for the view you are auditing.

2. Google Analytics Intermediate

I wasn’t expecting less from the Google Analytics Intermediate course, after I had completed the Google Analytics for beginners, but I think that this time, they overdid their job — in a good way.

The course is going through some intermediate (duh!) staff of Google Analytics platform. In fact we are learning the different ways to clean our data into the reports, because good data has a story to tell. So how do you do that?Of course by filtering out spam, removing internal hits, cross domain tracking, which is a huge one cause that is directly going to affect your attribution and everything else in a report.

Second part of the course includes ways to find answers to your questions. That is achieved through funnel tracking and being able to track through different steps and different styles of funnels in Google Analytics, including the funnel visualization report and goal flow reports. Then we learn all about segments and talking about how to use the built-in segments, how to create your own and how you can create sequences.

Last part, but not least, Mercer shared some tips and tricks to become the best version of your “analyst” self. That means that we learned how to use dashboards, save and customized them. How channels are working, how to think about them and finally how to create our own channel grouping.

But the most fun subject of all, among this amazing course is the one about multi-channel funnel reports. This is a whole new aspect of Google Analytics and allows you to see things like assisted conversions and last click conversions. More specifically, you can learn how your traffic sources and how your channels are actually interacting together to cause certain results, whatever that conversion is that you’re measuring.

I cannot say more about this, but I invite you to check it yourselves.

Conclusion

As expected CXL Institute kept me busy this week as well, but I didn’t regret a minute. By the completion of Google Analytics Audit and Google Analytics Intermediate courses, you should be ready to check the health of your account and then use some pro techniques to pump the insights out of your data.

My name is Alexandra Poulopoulou and I work as a Data & Analytics Lead at Reprise Digital. During my professional years, I have been involved in several analytics projects in order to drive successful business decisions.

If you liked what you’ve just read, follow me on Medium, LinkedIn or Twitter, because there are many of these to come. See you next time…

Data & Analytics Lead @ Reprise Digital | Passionate about Digital World | Life-Long Learner

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