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5 Ways To Check If Google Analytics Is Working

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5 Ways To Check If Google Analytics Is Working

Google Analytics is a marketer’s lifeline in understanding performance and making decisions based on website or app usage data.

In my decade-plus of working with clients, around half of the new clients I work with don’t have GA (Google Analytics) configured properly.

Typical issues stem from duplicate tag implementation, tag manager setup, cross-domain tracking and so much more.

Whether you are launching a new site, redesigning an old one, or merging multiple websites, here are five ways to ways to check whether Google Analytics is working.

1. Conduct A Google Analytics Tracking Audit

One of the first steps to take in this process is developing clear documentation of:

  • What are the accounts, properties, and views that your Google Analytics needs to flow into?
  • What GA tracking tags need to be used on all pages? Do certain GA tags need to be used for certain parts of the site (i.e., blog, microsite, internal knowledge base section)?
  • How are the tags deployed across the site? Through manual insertion within global CMS modules or through a 3rd party tag manager?
  • What events (i.e., button clicks or form submissions) are tracked on site that need accurate tracking?

Going through this exercise allows us to identify the pages where the Google Analytics tracking code is firing vs. not being there at all.

Screaming Frog and other crawling tools allow us to identify these issues at scale.

Here are the steps to take in Screaming Frog to run this type of crawl to identify which pages of your site that Google Analytics tracking code may be missing from:

Step 1: Click on Configuration > Custom > Search.

Screenshot from Screaming Frog, July 2022

Step 2: Depending on if you are running Google Analytics tracking through tag manager or through direct script insertion, you’ll add in the unique identifier from the respective system (e.g. GTM-######, UA-#########-#, G-##########) here so that Screaming Frog will spider all sub-domains on-site to see where it is unable to find that identifier within the source code.

Screaming Frog Step 2Screenshot from Screaming Frog, July 2022

Step 3: Put in your domain and click start.

This will crawl sub-domains on your site that are linked from your root URL.

If you do have micro-sites that are not linked from your main site, then Screaming Frog likely won’t crawl those pages.

Screaming Frog Step 3Screenshot from Screaming Frog, July 2022

The outcome of this crawl will show you the percentage of pages on site that don’t have your tracking code on it.

Screaming Frog Step 4Screenshot from Screaming Frog, July 2022

2. Identify Duplicate Tracking Code Using The GTM/GA Debug Tool In Chrome

One common mistake marketers make is inadvertently deploying tracking code across the site multiple times.

It often happens during CMS (content management system) migrations, domain consolidations, or redesigns due to a lack of documentation of existing legacy analytics requirements.

The GTM/GA debug chrome browser tool allows us to quickly see the GA and GTM tags that fire on a page as we navigate from page to page.

Here is how you can use the GTM/GA debug tool to see if there is a duplicative tracking code.

GTM GA Inspection ToolScreenshot from GTM/GA testing tool, July 2022

As you test this on your site, make sure that you are only seeing a single pageview from a single GA account that fires when you go to each page.

If you are seeing multiple pageviews fire when you load a single page, you’ll know that you are at least double-counting analytics data and likely throwing off all the other metrics you’re tracking in GA.

3. Explore Real-time Google Analytics Reporting To See If Page Views Are Firing

With Google Analytics’ real-time view, you can run tests on your site to determine how many people are on there this very second.

If you’re unsure of whether your Google Analytics code is working properly, go to GA’s main page.

Click on Realtime in the left navigation and browse through the location and content reports to test tracking on different sections of your site.

Given tracking issues tend to happen when going to specific sub-domains or going across domains, use GA’s real-time reporting functionality to see if you can identify your individual user activity on site.

Real-Time Google AnalyticsScreenshot from Google Analytics, July 2022

4. Investigate Google Tag Manager

Tag managers allow marketers to manage the firing of all their tracking scripts from one place.

One of the biggest benefits of using a tag manager is that if your tag management code is placed on every page on your site, then you can easily insert tracking scripts without the need to constantly bring in IT or a developer.

Google Tag Manager is the most common solution and is a free tool for all webmasters.

Another issue that marketers often face happens when they are using a combination of a tag management system in addition to manually inserting scripts onto individual pages or sections on site.

This is common because tag management systems are often introduced after a site has been implementing tags manually for some period.

This creates redundancy in tracking scripts and requires a thorough audit to move everything to a single, organized tag management system.

If you are using Google Tag Manager, here are the steps to “preview” which scripts are firing on your site.

Step 1: Log in to Google Tag Manager and click on Preview.

Google Tag Manager Preview Screenshot from Google Tag Manager, July 2022

Step 2: Type in the page on the site you’d like to test.

Google Tag Manager Preview SubmitScreenshot from Google Tag Manager, July 2022

Step 3: See which tags are and are not firing on that specific URL.

See which tags are and are not firing on that specific URLScreenshot from Google Tag Manager, July 2022

Within this “preview” mode, Google can also track scrolling and clicks.

So, if you are looking to use event tracking on button clicks, then this will allow you to see if clicks are triggering event tracking scripts on site.

5. Use Chrome Developer Tools To Identify Scripts Firing In Your Browser

Chrome developer tools allow us to gather information in a linear visualization around the different content that is loading on a page.

To see if Google Analytics is firing on your page, go to any page on your site in your Chrome Browser and right-click.

Click on Inspect.

Then go to the Network tab.

Chrome Inspect ElementScreenshot from Chrome Inspect Element, July 2022

Hit refresh on your browser and watch to see the different content and scripts loading on the page.

From here, type in “collect” or “gtm” in the search bar to see if the Google Analytics code has been fired.

Chrome Inspect ElementScreenshot from Chrome Inspect Element, July 2022

This also gives you a second chance to make sure that the Google Analytics tracking code is only loading once (similar to number 3).

An Additional Consideration Related To GDPR, Tracking Privacy, And CMSs

In certain CMSs and tag management systems, there is the ability to configure tracking based on local privacy laws like the GDPR (EU General Data Protection Regulation) or CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act).

If you are experiencing tracking issues, you’ll need to explore how the opt-in/out functionality may be impacting pageview, event, and conversion tracking data.

There are several tools you can use to diagnose GA tracking issues on site.

As a marketer, your biggest opportunity is to get comfortable in Chrome developer tools, tag management systems, and crawling tools to make sure that you can audit tracking codes based on your organization’s goals.

More resources:


Featured Image: Song_about_summer/Shutterstock



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15 Ecommerce SEO Experts Reveal Top Insights For 2023

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15 Ecommerce SEO Experts Reveal Top Insights For 2023

Wondering how to do SEO for ecommerce?

Looking for expert insights on ecommerce SEO?

Uncertain how to make your online store more successful?

From acknowledging that the traditional customer journey is dead, to fast pivoting due to Google’s constant updates, to reassessing benchmarks after the pandemic digital boom and the subsequent fall, experts from award-winning agencies assess what’s next in ecommerce SEO.

We wanted to go beyond unpredictability, so we interviewed 15 digital growth and SEO experts to get their insights, tips, and lessons learned as part of our Ecommerce SEO deep dive.

Ecommerce experts in this article talk about search behaviors, hands-on clients, forecasting for aligning to current trends, and more.

Let’s see what they have to say.

Implement Multi-Touchpoint Customer Journeys As Search Behaviors Change

James Finlayson, Head of SEO at the7stars: “Google’s search volumes aren’t just stagnating – in many cases, they’re reducing. Despite this, consumers are conducting more research prior to purchases than ever – on Amazon and other ‘super-retailers’, on TikTok, large publishers with loyal audiences, Pinterest, YouTube, and Reddit. We recently looked at one market where, we estimated, less than 10% of search activity was actually happening on Google.” Read Finlayson on digital and in-store buying, pushing for larger budgets, and their Sofology success story.

Sara Povoas, Content and SEO Manager at iProspect Portugal:  “We observed a huge increase in shopping, not only for younger audiences but also for older ones, which is new. I think that users are getting more demanding and more informed — if you have a lot of offers, you need to make smart decisions. So people are looking for more. The reviews, opinions, video demonstrations, and price comparisons are getting more popular as people are doing these decision-making searches in order to make a purchase.” Read Povoas on fluctuating stocks, health and cosmetics trends, and client communication.

Luke Carthy, eCommerce SEO & CRO Consultant: “What I’m seeing across my consumer-based clients is that Average Order Value is up, but the number of transactions is probably similar or falling. What I mean by that is they’re spending more per transaction. Rather than someone going to a clothing retailer, maybe once a month or once every couple of weeks, depending on what their previous shopping habits were, they will shop less frequently. And when they shop, they’ll spend more money. I think that happens for a couple of reasons: One is to mitigate the delivery fees and, secondly, to try and get to thresholds to claim rewards, whatever those might be.” Read Carthy on buy-in, shifting strategies, and B2B clients.

Jen Cornwell, Senior Director of Digital Strategy at Ignite Visibility: “The way people shop has changed, as they had converted to online and are now back to this hybrid style again. I think it’s all about expectation setting: Can we ever get back to those traffic levels or those conversion levels online again? What are some creative ways that we can go about if we think that’s the case? User behavior has taken a big shift.

For instance, we had an electronics client who sold computers, both online and brick-and-mortar. We started to see a shift at the beginning of 2022 as they had more foot traffic to their stores – which they’re happy about, but they do not see as many purchases online anymore. Even in the instances where there isn’t a brick-and-mortar component or the product is only available online, the opportunity for somebody to go and buy it in person just pulls them away from coming to the Internet as much as they used to.” Read Cornwell on video content, white goods, and creative page optimization.

Get Creative With Product Reviews, Long-Tail Keywords & Specificity, As Google Algorithm Updates Intensify

James Euinton, Account Director at The SEO Works: “Over the years, as Google improves its handling of language, it’s been more important to focus on the more specific, longer-tail phrases. Sometimes this may mean catering to specific questions and keywords that fall outside standard products and category pages. It’s important that we tailor additional content to these to target the customer at different points in the journey or funnel.” Read Euinton on moving the needle fast, Core Web Vitals, and business contexts.

Radu Marcusu, CEO at Upswing: “The biggest challenge this year was for marketing managers to explain the drops in the market and how to go about it. That’s why I would say it was more about us being proactive in communicating these shifts to our clients. They needed support in understanding the overall market trends and that it was a general change in demand – and, of course, in adapting to it. That also meant new tactics or focusing on specific actions. For instance, if Google now recommends refined searches, we make sure our clients have filters or categories targeting those searches. We also focus on having the right content to answer those searches. Or keep their Google My Business profiles optimized. In a nutshell, we were proactive in adapting strategies, budgets, and also specific actions implying Google changes.” Read Marcusu on differentiating through pitching, video searches, and developing internal tools.

Eli Schwartz, Growth Advisor and SEO Strategic Consultant: “Google and other search engines use deep learning to improve search results for their users continuously. This past year, I have noticed that local results are triggered more often when Google detects a local intent. At the same time, on results where there should not have been local intent, I have seen the local results disappear.”

Forecasts, SEO ROI & Data-Led Decisions Should Be At The Forefront For Ecommerce Businesses

Marc Swann, Director of Search at Glass Digital: “​​There’s no doubt that retailers are feeling the pinch as consumers tighten their belts, and this presents risks for most marketing agencies when it comes to justifying the value of their services. SEO is a channel that is often more at risk when times are hard, and marketing budgets are scrutinized. SEO performance can ultimately be maintained in the short and even medium term without a recurring spend associated with it, unlike something like paid search where once ad spend stops, performance disappears. So certainly, justifying expenditure in SEO is something that we have seen requested more and not seeing it as a luxury in harder times. Ultimately, those that are able to fulfill their SEO strategies through the hard times will be in much stronger positions when the economy eventually turns positive.” Read Swan on multi-lingual sites, sports retailers, and “luxury” channels.

Steve Walker, Technical Director at Journey Further: “Measuring ROI has always been important, but it’s no longer a nice-to-have. Measuring ROI is essential. This is why performance monitoring tools like SEOmonitor are critical to your agency. The amount of in-house teams has also increased dramatically over the past few months. This is a great thing for the SEO industry and a testament to SEO’s importance in digital marketing – but it fundamentally changes how agencies need to operate. We’re no longer just additional resources doing basic SEO activity. We need to act in a similar way to a business consultancy and provide strategic-level support.” Read Walker on new user journeys, measuring impact, and funnel optimization.

Rank Tracker’s Strategy view on SEOmonitor.com, December 202215 Ecommerce SEO Experts Reveal Their Top Insights For A Successful 2023

Ben Austin, Founder & CEO at Absolute Digital Media: “We utilize forecasting for both pitching and upselling to ecommerce clients to showcase our understanding of the industry they compete in and the business. By doing so, we can more effectively dictate what is required to drive continuous growth to the business whilst highlighting the ongoing value our innovative SEO strategies provide. In addition to providing a basic forecast of the brand’s current market position, we supply further insight into the wider business benefits such as returning customers, revenue, and ROI.” Read Austin on business strategies, performing verticals in ecommerce, and dynamic URLs.

Charlie Norledge, Head of SEO Performance at Impression: “The pitches are much more competitive now because there are probably fewer clients going to market as things started to slow down a bit. We’ve had to make sure that we include innovative tactics in there. Like talking about how to utilize social media trends in organic when we talk about tech SEO, not just putting a list of fixes, making sure we have priority behind things and just giving them as much detail as possible.

Forecasting is another important piece. When we go to a competitive pitch, forecasting is, I’d say, required. If we didn’t do it, we could miss out. We were in pitches against other agencies, and because we had forecasts in place, we ended up winning the work.” Read Norledge on GPT-3 efficiency, reporting, and client expectations.

Kevin Gibbons, Founder and CEO at Re:signal: “For us, it’s important to have strong communication with our clients about where the priorities are and make sure that we know not just where the search demand is, but also the supply. Knowing what clients are focusing on – both in terms of seasonality and where the priorities could be and could be shifting because of those issues – helps us re-address what we’re doing.

I think everyone’s just probably a bit more price-conscious and cautious right now in terms of what they’re doing. So, again, that’s why ecommerce is such a strong sector for us. For the reason that you can track organic revenue performance. Everyone wants to make sure they’re maximizing their ROI.” Read Gibbons on internationalization and their ASICS success story.

15 Ecommerce SEO Experts Reveal Their Top Insights For A Successful 2023SEO Forecast by SEOmonitor, December 202215 Ecommerce SEO Experts Reveal Their Top Insights For A Successful 2023

Leverage Integrated Campaigns To Build More Growth Opportunities

It’s not just about one channel or one tactic, but ecommerce digital experts are looking more and more into how they can optimize the full user experience, coordinate PR and SEO efforts, and make sense of the whole industry landscape and where the opportunity lies:

Petar Jovetic, Organic Director at Impression: “Everything we do has to show value and be targeted. We’re baking innovation more and more into our proposition. It’s been quite compelling to leverage AI to handle higher workloads and then do it more efficiently. One other thing I’m keen to explore is using our CRO department, especially at the bottom of the funnel where every user counts, to grow acquisition strategically with more A/B testing, multivariate testing, etc. We’re looking into how CRO and SEO can complement each other more. I think that is really appealing in the current economic climate. So we’re not just throwing additional users but nurturing them through the funnel to conversion.” Read Jovetic on SEO maturity frameworks and the State of Retail.

Charlie Clark, Account Director & Founder at Minty Digital: “I noticed more clients are looking to build their brand through digital PR, and we build their brand name rather than just focus on sales. Some of the bigger companies we work with used to allocate a separate budget to SEO, and that used to be the entire thing. Now they’re allocating separate budgets within their departments, one for SEO and one for PR. They’ll have their traditional PR, the standard press releases, but then they’ll also be tying in the digital aspect to that, which is something that’s been quite interesting to know.” Read Clark on entering new markets and campaign KPIs.

Heemesh Vara, Head of SEO at Semetrical: “Our keyword research process focuses on exploring the whole industry. That’s something different from other agencies. Where they might take a category-by-category approach and do it month by month, we do it the other way around. It’s a lot of work for us at the beginning, but it does provide the client and us with a complete picture of their entire industry. For example, we worked with a vintage furniture client with multiple types of products and categories, from sofas, stools, chairs, side tables, etc. So we had to research the entire industry all at once. And this is one of our unique selling propositions that we always put in the proposal as well.” Read Vara on SEO data analysis and baselines, stakeholder management, and securing budgets.

In the end, as our 15 interviews have shown, both ecommerce clients and markets continue to shift, so it’s critical to showcase sustainable results.

With all these challenges SEO experts face in mind, we continue to develop SEOmonitor so it helps you:

  • Prove the value of SEO with a forecast solution that allows you to connect desired ranking targets to non-brand organic traffic growth potential.
  • Bring session, conversions, and revenue data back into keywords with our solution to the (not provided), so you know what the performing keywords are.
  • Keep track of demand with daily ranks for desktop and mobile as standard, search volumes and year-over-year trends across the platform, and automatic seasonality alerts.
  • And so much more.

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