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by Graeme Benge on 4th June 2014
Hi. Today I’m going to talk to you about some basic Google Analytics troubleshooting. I’m going to focus on using two tools that are out on the market. There are many, but these two are some really handy ways of doing some quick analysis to seeing what has gone wrong with your Google Analytics tracking.
The first tool is Tag Assistant. This is from Google Analytics and is a Chrome extension. If you add it to your Chrome profile, it will sit in your bookmarks bar, and it looks like a little red tag. It might be blue if it’s already enabled.
What this does is it very quickly analyzes what Google Analytics tags are actually on the page, if there are any, and in a little pop-up it will give you some insight into the UA code that is in place. If the position of the tag is not right, it will suggest that you make amendment too. For instance, if you’re using classic Google Analytics tracking code, that obviously needs to sit within the head of the page, and if it isn’t, you’ll get that advice via Google Tag Assistant. So it’s a very quick, very easy way of understanding if there are any problems with the tracking that you’ve got on your site.
This can then give you kind of a hunch that there might be some other bigger issues. It might not be that that particular problem is site wide. For instance, you might use Tag Assistant and find that there isn’t any tracking code on that particular page that you’re looking at. It’s obviously vital that the tracking code snippet is on every single page of your site that you’re looking to collect data from. So you want to be able to ensure that that is the place, and going page by page, using Tag Assistant is a pretty time consuming exercise.
So the second tool that I was going to recommend using is Screaming Frog. Screaming Frog is an amazing tool. I use it countless times every day. This particular tactic does require the full fully licensed paid version, but again it’s going to pay for itself in the time that it saves you, especially if you’re working on multiple websites.
But with using Screaming Frog, what you can do is you can create a custom filter because Screaming Frog works to crawl a domain in a similar way to how a search engine might and it returns the key information about the particular elements of your site. So it can pull out lots of quite granular information, such as any particular code that’s on the site. So using a custom filter you can set that filter up to “does not contain” and then add in your UA tracking code and set Screaming Frog to crawl you site.
Once it’s finished, you’ll have then the ability to export an Excel sheet of all the URLs that does not have your UA tracking code in place. This then might help to give some insight into perhaps any traffic drops that you’ve been seeing in Google Analytics yourself. It might not be a completely site wide disaster, but there might be some money pages that are starting to appear to be losing traffic, and typically this might happen after perhaps a redesign whereby some of the code gets shaken up and for whatever reason your Google Analytics code is taken off. It’s so easy for this to happen. I’ve seen it countless times, and it can cause a major nightmare when it comes to finding out that the traffic has sloped off so much, but it can actually be down to a very simple thing such as the tracking is just not in place.
So using these two tools, Google Analytics Tag Assistant and Screaming Frog, you should be able to very quickly and very easily start to cross off some causes for particular traffic drops that are down to tracking code errors.
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