Uncover tracking mistakes in Google Analytics

1. Use a tool like Screaming Frog or GA Checker to check that the Google Analytics tracking script is installed on every page of the site.

In Google Analytics, navigate to Admin > Property > Tracking Info > Tracking Code. Copy the tracking ID, also known as the UA code. It will look similar to UA-XXXXXX-1. In Screaming Frog, configure a custom search on your website for the UA code that you copied. Check the crawl results for pages that are missing the UA code. Alternatively, use GA Checker to perform a site crawl.

2. Check that pageview tracking is not duplicated because multiple scripts are installed.

To check the bounce rate: Navigate to Audience > Overview and select Bounce Rate as the metric for the graph. If you see a bounce rate of less than 10% this is a red flag that you have tracking implementation issues. Double tracking is often reflected by a bounce rate of around 2%.  The screenshot below shows a bounce rate that is under 2% due to a duplicate UA script. The issue was fixed in September, and you can see that the bounce rate returned to normal. A screenshot of the bounce rate chart in Google Analytics. The bounce rate is under 2% throughout August 2020 due to a duplicate UA script. The issue was fixed in September and bounce rate returned to normal. If you can see that there is a duplicate script issue, use the Tag Assistant Chrome plugin by Google to check for errors in your UA script. View the page source code to try to identify the source of the extra tracking script(s). Possible candidates are a mix of plugins, code in the theme files, and duplicate tags in Google Tag Manager.

3. Identify self-referrals and payment gateways that are eating attribution data and losing the original acquisition source.

Navigate to Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium and search the report for variations of your domain. This is particularly relevant if you have not set up redirects on your server between http and https.  If your website is spread across multiple domains (not subdomains), set up cross-domain tracking through Google Tag Manager. This could include third-party payment gateways and platforms used to build landing pages or sales funnels that become part of your website. Search the Source/Medium report for payment gateways like Paypal, Stripe, shop.app, Shopify payments, and Klarna. If you find session, revenue and transaction data associated with these, then your data is inaccurate. To fix this issue, navigate to Admin > Property > Tracking Info > Referral Exclusion List and add these URLs to the Referral Exclusions List. Iframe tracking can be a common issue when forms from third-party apps are embedded into a website. This might generate duplicate page views and loss of referral sources. It may also be impossible to track goals completed within the iframe if it is not properly tagged.

4. Navigate to Admin > View > View Settings to check whether you are tracking spam hits.

Check that the Bot Filtering checkbox is ticked. This will be active only from the time that it is enabled. Spam hits that occurred before doing this will still be recorded in your account. Navigate to Audience > Technology > Network and change the primary dimension of the report to Hostname. You will find your domain hostname in this report and most likely translation service domains; these are ok and expected. Look for spam sites. If you find spam sites with a lot of hits associated with them, then consider putting a Hostname Only filter on your main reporting View.

5. Check that you are not tracking personally identifiable information (PII) in URL reports, which is against Google's ToS.

Navigate to Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages. Type ‘@’ in the search box for the report and hit return. Look for email addresses in URLs in the Page column. They might be part of a query parameter such as “/[email protected]” Alert the sites developers of this data breach so they can put a fix in place. Put a PII Rewrite filter in place in Google Analytics as a temporary measure.