Google Analytics is an extremely useful reporting tool that shows you what visitors are doing on your website. Before you start analyzing user behavior, it’s important to make sure your GA account is set up properly. Otherwise, you might not be using GA to its full potential – #whalefail.
At Whole Whale, we take steps to make sure GA is optimized. To help you set up your account, we created a handy checklist. Download it below and refer to it when setting up a new account. You’ll never miss a step again.
What’s in the list?
The list starts with high priority items, which are ‘critical to launch’. Do not pass go without these – your account isn’t ready to collect data. Next up are medium priority steps. If you haven’t completed the mediums, you may pass go, but get them up and running as soon as you’re able. Finally, lower priority items are the ‘nice to haves’. Once you’re done with the fundamental high and medium priorities, turn your attention here.
Tracking code is on every page of the site
Universal Analytics is the version you need for accurate tracking. Here’s Google’s guide to installing Universal Analytics.
Tracking code is up to date
Tracking will only work for pages where the code is added. Test tags with the Google Tag Assistant Chrome add on, which verifies installed tags on a page.
Tracking code is in the correct location
Advertising features are enabled
Advertising features show you non-standard reports like Google Display Network Impression Reporting. Here’s Google’s guide to enabling Advertising Features.
Demographic tracking is enabled
Demographic tracking shows you age, gender, and interest categories for more complete analysis of your site visitors. Here’s Google’s guide to enabling Demographic and Interests reports.
Account has an unfiltered master view
An unfiltered view is a backup and shows you all the data in case of a problem with the main reporting view.
Correct access levels provided
Permission levels give you control over who can access your data and who can edit reports. Give users ‘Edit’, ‘Collaborate’, or ‘Read & Analyze’ access at the Account, Property, or View level.
Account has a reporting view
The reporting view is the main view used for analysis and has configurations like spam, bot, and internal IP filters.
Reporting view filters known bot traffic
Google provides a default bot traffic filter to protect your data. Check the ‘Exclude all hits from known bots and spiders’ box in the View Settings for your reporting view.
Reporting view filters internal IP addresses
Internal traffic can skew your data if you behave differently than external traffic on site. Here’s Google’s guide to excluding internal traffic.
Reporting view has custom spam filters
Custom spam filters protect your data from ghost, referral, and language spam that’s not blocked by Google’s default spam filter. This Guide to Removing All Analytics Spam from Analytics Edge is one of them most conclusive we’ve found.
Google Search Console is linked to GA
Search Console reports on organic search keywords and shows you how your site is performing in Google Search. Here’s Whole Whale’s guide to configuring and using Google Search Console.
Google AdWords is linked to GA
Linking AdWords to GA lets you analyze user behavior on your site after an ad click or impression. AdWords linking can be found in the Admin section of your account.
Annotations used for all major fluctuations
Annotations explain changes in traffic. Use them to remind yourself and others of site updates.
Goals tells Google which actions on your site are most important. Goals are so essential, we created a guide to GA goals for nonprofits.
Page speed is within targeted range
Slow page speed can negatively effect user experience. Google PageSpeed Insights helps you diagnose problem pages and get recommendations for improving site speed.
In-site search is configured (if applicable)
In-site search tells you what people are looking for on your site and if they’re having trouble finding it. Configuring in-site search can be tricky, but this guide from Google will help.
With dashboards, you can add the widgets you want to get an overview of the reports and metrics you care about most. We created a Nonprofit Dashboard Bundle for 2017 to help you get started.
Dashboards scheduled for email delivery
Deliver dashboards via email so your team can see the data without having to log in to Google Analytics. Our guide to Google Analytics Dashboards has more info about configuring and delivering dashboards.
Event tracking configured
Events show us important site interactions that GA doesn’t track out of the box. Don’t know which events to track? We created a list of our top 8 events for nonprofits.
Google Tag Manager is installed
GTM simplifies the process of creating and tracking events in GA. Here’s a detailed explanation of what GTM is, why it’s important, and how you can get started.
Now that your account is is configured correctly, you’re ready to analyze your data and find meaningful insights. Use it to ask the question, ‘What do the data say?’ while building a data culture at your organization.