search engine optimization

A simple Google Analytics checklist

  • Belle
  • ON
  • August 16, 2016

Google Analytics is easy to set up, but there are a lot of features that are often underutilized or not used at all. This is the Google Analytics checklist we use to make sure that analytics is not only set up properly, but also set up optimally with the right profiles, event tracking, and segments for the business I am supporting.

Google Analytics checklist items


Add a Privacy Policy

Confirm the website has a privacy policy and add one if it doesn’t. The Google Analytics terms of service requires that your website has a privacy policy. Having a privacy policy also helps improve your Quality Score in AdWords. is a nice, free privacy policy generator.

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Set up goals

Define the website’s goals and configure them in Google Analytics. Think beyond just the primary goals (“I want visitors to buy something”) to potential secondary and tertiary goals. Examples may include:

  • Downloading a brochure
  • Asking a question
  • Leaving a comment

Be sure to assign a value to every goal. Even though it’s not “real money,” assigning relative values to each goal will help to evaluate your digital marketing programs through the Page Value metric.

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Create Custom Views

Define views to help focus specific digital marketing efforts. The following views are a good place to start, but each business is different so be sure the views in Google Analytics meet your business’s needs.

  • All Data. You need a view with everything, just in case you misconfigure something – this is your backup.
  • Main View. This view shows only the traffic you care about analyzing. Typically, you’ll want to filter out known spammers, your office’s IP address, and the IP addresses of your marketing agency and other partners.
  • Test. Have a test view to test configuration changes you plan on making to existing views. You can’t “undo” data collection in Google Analytics, so having a test view is crucial for getting the configuration right on the first try.

We tend to create just a few views, rather than many. Too many views can quickly over complicate your setup and further refinements are better accomplished using custom segments.

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Create Custom Segments

Understand visitor behavior through segmentation. Segments, like views, are frequently very business- or website-specific. Here is a quick list of segments to consider. Hopefully they can get your creative juices flowing.

  • Shopping cart abandons. Visitors that added something to their shopping cart, but never purchased. What changed their mind?
  • Frequent shoppers. Visitors that frequently shop on your website. What keeps them coming back?
  • Researchers. Visitors with high time-on-site and page views. What are they trying to find?
  • High-tech. Visitors with high-resolution screens and fast internet connections.
  • Low-tech. Visitors with low-resolution screens and slow internet connections.
  • Social Sharers. Visitors that share your content on social media.

Some of these require custom event tracking, which leads us to the next item on our to-do list.

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Set up Event Tracking

Track events to understand on-page behavior. Just as page views help you to understand how visitors are using your website, events can help you to understand how visitors are using individual pages and the features on them. Every site is different, but here are a few events to consider:

  • Form interactions. Tracking form interactions can help determine the point at which people tend to abandon.
  • Video interaction. Tracking events like play, pause, fast-forward, and rewind can help you understand which video segments are resonating with viewers. LunaMetrics has a great guide to tracking YouTube video interaction.
  • Text highlighting and copying. If someone is highlighting and/or copying text from your page, chances are they’re well engaged.
  • Scrolling. If you’ve written a long article (like this one!), it’s good to know how far down visitors get before clicking away.
  • Downloads. You can track file downloads with some simple JavaScript. You might also consider using virtual page views, especially for documents such as Word or PDF files.

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Create Alerts

Create alerts to catch problems and seize opportunities. Sudden or unexpected changes in behavior can mean life or death for your business, so why not have Google Analytics proactively email you when something important happens, instead of potentially waiting until it’s too late? Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Sudden increase or decrease in traffic. An unexpected increase in traffic can be great news – if your site can handle it! On the other hand, an unexpected drop in traffic could mean a serious issue with your website such as browser compatibility problems, a broken analytics installation, or an SEO issue, etc..
  • Change in Average Page Views per Visit. Changes in how visitors are engaging with your website can help understand what’s working and what’s not, as well as how external trends are impacting your website (for example, more mobile visitors often means fewer page views per visit).

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Set up Report Emails

Have important reports emailed to yourself automatically. Even if you check Google Analytics every day, email reports can come in handy especially when they go beyond the dashboard reports. Here are a few I like to have emailed:

  • Browser & OS. This is how we spotted mobile trends with customers, long before clients knew it was coming. This report is also handy for spotting browser compatibility issues that could be affecting usability.
  • All Referrals. Knowing where traffic is coming from (or not!) is a great way to know how to allocate the time and resources you spend promoting your website.

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There you have it, our Google Analytics checklist. What’s on your checklist?

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