With the Universal Analytics sunset around the corner, it is now evidently important for all organizations to plan GA4 migration. Did you say you’re among the smarter ones and have already completed the migration? Well, we must say, what a great decision!
Now that you’re seeing data coming into your GA4 reports in the form of events you wanted to track, are you confident you’re all set and got it all covered? Or are there still instances when you might be wondering if something is wrong with your data, and you are not sure what’s going on?
Don’t worry, we’ve come across such situations and get your frustration. And for that reason, we have designed this 21-step checklist to help you conduct a thorough audit of your GA4 setup so you can evaluate whether or not the data within your Google Analytics 4 property is accurate or needs improvement.
Why do you need a GA4 Audit?
While you are familiar and acquainted with Google Analytics 3, GA4 is a significant upgrade to Universal Analytics and has a lot more advanced features that once were only possible to achieve through custom implementation and significant efforts.
With the constant updates coming to Google Analytics 4 and wanting to make your mark in this whole new world of Analytics, your business must ensure accurate data measurements while leveraging all those enhanced functionalities that this tool has to offer.
Once your GA4 account has been properly configured, go ahead and try out our automated GA4 audit and get a comprehensive picture of the quality and correctness of your data, in less than 5 mins.
Auditing a Google Analytics 4 property takes a long time because you must review several reports and account settings. Furthermore, while you may believe your data is flawless, the unfortunate reality is that many people rely on false data owing to faulty settings. A lot of people waste time and resources on reports without first checking the settings.
GA4 Audit Checklist
Our audit checklist is widely classified into three stages: Data Integrity, Data Quality, and Data Maturity.
Let us dive deeper into each of these stages to go through the checklist items they contain.
This stage is about ensuring that every aspect of data collection is handled in terms of tool configuration, allowing us to capture all critical data points per best practices.
The following points must be thoroughly confirmed.
1. Have all data streams been set up correctly?
To capitalize on the connected user capabilities, Check whether all the relevant streams for a business (web and app) have been added to the same GA4 property to leverage the connected user functionality.
Analyzing your website and mobile app within a single property is important. This will allow you to use your GA4 property as a roll-up property, making it easier to track traffic across different sources of data.
There can be up to 50 data streams per Google Analytics 4 property (any combination of app and web data streams, including a limit of 30 app data streams).
Technically speaking, a data stream is the flow of data to Analytics from a client touchpoint (such as an app or website).
Analytics provides a piece of code for your app or website that you can add to gather data when you create a data stream. Data is gathered starting at the moment the code is added, and it serves as the foundation for your reports.
In Universal Analytics, tracking online and app data required separate properties for each. Data streams in Google Analytics 4 offer a novel and intriguing approach to combining your online and app data into a single property. So you can get a whole picture of any user’s interaction journey.
2. Is the session timeout configured according to the business domain?
The session timeout determines how long a user’s session will remain active before it is ended and a new session is started.
Because a user will be inactive for a longer length of time, some organizations, such as OTT, will demand a longer session duration. Check to verify if it is appropriately configured based on domain requirements otherwise modify it through the session timeout setting.
It is important to note though that changing the session timeout setting can affect your website’s data accuracy, so it is recommended to consult with your analytics team or a Google Analytics expert to make changes only if necessary.
To give you a complete view of how users interact with your website, session timeout is essential. It makes sure that a user’s active session is the only one that Google Analytics records, giving you precise insight into their activities.
3. Are the basic property settings properly configured?
Check if you have configured the industry, timezone, data retention, and currency settings appropriately to ensure data accuracy and relatability.
By properly setting up your property, you can collect data more accurately in terms of time-specific and region-specific dimensions. This, in turn, enables Google to capture relevant industry benchmarks and advertising data appropriately.
Choose these settings based on your business geography, timezone, need to retain data, etc. so that Google Analytics can collect the data appropriately, that would make sense to your business and overall analysis.
4. Is enhanced measurement enabled?
Check if your organization is utilizing automatically collected events to reduce the manual tagging work. While Enhanced measurement is not a required feature, it does enable various interaction events, such as scroll tracking, which is useful for advanced analysis. It is recommended to turn them on and start utilizing them in your reports.
Enable enhanced measurement to automatically collect data about user actions like scrolling, site search, video interaction, form interaction, and more to reduce manual tagging work for these events.
The primary advantage of GA4’s improved measurement feature is that it automatically adds some possibly pertinent data to your tracking without requiring any more work from you (at least theoretically). To track scrolls, outbound clicks, site searches, and video interaction events in GA4, there is no need to modify the code or use Google Tag Manager to implement the relevant tags.
Once we are satisfied that all of the critical data points have been obtained, the next stage is to ensure the quality of this data. Have they been collected accurately and in a way to aid in advanced analysis?
1. Is cross-domain tracking turned on?
If an organization has multiple domains, cross-domain functionality for single-user and single-session tracking must be enabled. This will ensure single-user flow across websites and allow you to track users navigating between domains or subdomains. Eventually, it will be beneficial to see how these interactions contribute to conversions and other important metrics.
The same user will be tracked twice by analytics on different websites, giving the impression that you have more users than you have. By enabling cross-domain tracking, Analytics will be able to send cookies between your two websites and provide you with a precise picture of your visitors’ paths.
2. Are internal IP addresses excluded?
We must verify that the internal traffic is not logged in the GA4 property, to avoid any misattribution in data as well as ensure the collection of true customer data.
Once configured, Google Analytics 4 will exclude traffic from the IP address range you specified in the “ipOverride” field from your reports. This will ensure that your reports are more accurate and that internal traffic doesn’t skew your data.
The data from Google Analytics must be correct because it might generate essential traffic to the website. If your workers or vendor agencies frequently visit your site, Google Analytics data may be biased.
It becomes critical to exclude your IP address from Google Analytics so that these visits would not compromise the accuracy of your data.
3. Is Google Signal enabled?
Google Signals is a feature in Google Analytics 4 that allows you to enable additional capabilities for tracking users who have signed in to Google services such as Gmail, Google Search, YouTube, and others. With Google Signals, you can access additional data about these users, such as demographics, interests, and cross-device behavior, even if they haven’t directly interacted with your website or app.
Once you’ve enabled Google Signals, you can access the additional data about users who have signed in to Google services by viewing the Audience reports in Google Analytics 4. You can use this data to better understand your users and to make more informed decisions about your marketing and advertising strategies.
Enable Google Signals for accurate reporting across devices, creating cross-device remarketing audiences, and capturing statistical and affinity information in your reports (like age, gender, interest, etc.)
4. Are all Referral Exclusions listed?
You can prevent specific domains or sources from being reported as referral traffic in your reports with Google Analytics 4’s referral exclusions feature. This is helpful if you have certain traffic sources, like payment gateways, subdomains, or websites that are closely related to your own but that you want to avoid including in your referral stats.
While GA4 currently handles self-referral, make sure that other referrals are added to the referral exclusion list to avoid false referral listings in the report
Referral traffic is an important part of data sources bringing traffic to your website so you can understand which third-party site is giving you the most traffic or conversions, for example. And so it becomes important to exclude referrals like payment gateways or if your website is spread across multiple domains.
5. Is User ID implemented (if applicable)?
Using a User ID allows you to connect the user experience across devices, determine whether a website feature is being used, and prioritize it above relying on device ids. This will not only
improve the accuracy of your user count but also help you gain a better understanding of how people interact with your business overall.
Once User ID has been enabled in Google Analytics 4, you can examine individual user behavior and follow how users move across devices and sessions using the User Explorer report. By doing so, you’ll be able to comprehend your users more fully and make informed decisions on your marketing and advertising tactics with greater knowledge by using the ga4 report on advertising.
Implementing the User ID feature gives you the ability to use your user identifier while being able to stitch their sessions across devices, so you have a single view of the user journey and can take some actions instantly.
6. Is any personally identifying information collected?
Any information that may be used to identify a specific person, such as their name, email address, home address, phone number, or social security number, is referred to as personally identifiable information (PII). To safeguard users’ security and privacy, Google Analytics 4 (GA4) maintains rigorous standards regarding the collection and storage of PII.
Avoid including any PII in your tracking code in GA4 or transferring any PII to the Google Analytics servers. Both user-level and event-level data are included in this. If PII is
unintentionally gathered, you should take action to delete it from your data and stop further collection.
Business goals-based tracking generates useful insights and provides numerous possibilities for advanced analysis, which may have a direct impact on business KPIs. This phase is all about ensuring we collect data crucial to our business from a strategic point of view.
1. Are custom dimensions and metrics set up?
For better data slicing and dicing, it is suggested to collect additional data points against a user or event by configuring custom dimensions and metrics according to the KPIs of the business vertical.
After creating a custom dimension or metric, you can begin tracking extra data within your tracking code or in the Google Analytics interface. You could, for instance, create a custom dimension to track the job title of your users or a custom metric to track the frequency with which a particular activity is performed on your website or mobile application.
It’s never a bad idea to know more about your audience and how they use your website. The long-term benefits of this are inevitable. You can get more specialized insights from Google Analytics by using a custom dimension, which will benefit both your company and its overall marketing strategy.
2. Are you using GTM or gtag.js for tracking data?
It is recommended to use a tag management solution or on-page scripting (gtag.js) so that any future custom implementation is placed in the appropriate tag and, if there are data collection issues, debugging the cause is easier.
Implement Google Analytics through this so that you can add and update your tags for conversion tracking, site analytics, remarketing, and more. Additionally, it will allow you to change tags whenever you want thanks to the intuitive design GTM has to offer.
3. Are there any KPI-specific custom events & conversions?
Check to determine if the organization has any custom events configured per its business domain model. Mark certain major events like purchases or minor events like newsletter subscriptions as Conversions. These events represent any user action that’s valuable to your business, based on best practices.
Once you have set up your custom event, you can use it to track conversion rates and other important metrics in GA4. You can also use the event to create custom reports and analyze user behavior on your website or app.
Tracking business goals/KPIs is one of the most important factors when setting up your Analytics. With GA4, these goals are nothing but conversion events, that you can use with multiple reports like Channels, and Landing Pages. This is critical information to measure the success of your digital marketing efforts.
4. Is Data Import configured for offline data?
If a company has offline transactions recorded in systems like CRM, email marketing platforms, etc., make sure to import these data points into Google Analytics 4 for a better understanding of offline users as well as their performance in conjunction with online users.
You can use the imported data in your GA4 analysis and reporting once your data import is configured and operational. You may, for instance, utilize your imported user data to develop custom audiences, monitor the effectiveness of your offline sales data, or assess the effectiveness of your email marketing efforts on website traffic.
Set up Data Import so you have a wider view of your customer engagement and behavior, may it be offline or online. With this feature, you can potentially stitch any of your data sources with Google Analytics, for enhanced audience targeting and advanced analysis.
5. Is product integration leveraged?
Product linking is critical for exploiting analytics data for advanced analysis and targeting; make sure that all relevant products are linked. Make sure to leverage this to its fullest potential in terms of storing raw data for in-depth analysis or running campaigns on specific audiences that you define within GA4, including predictive ones.
GA4 provides a lot of powerful integration options, including BigQuery even with the standard version, making it more effective from a usability point of view. Take a couple of examples, connect GA4 with Google Ads to get the pre and post-behavior of your customers before they convert. Similarly, get all your raw data into BQ with one click and run advanced and ML-based analysis right away.
6. Is the attribution set up based on Google’s recommendations?
Check if the cross-channel data-driven attribution model and lookback window are configured as per the business domain model. While this is the default and recommended attribution model within GA4, various options could help you customize data in your reports based on your business needs.
Choosing the right attribution model for your business is a critical step toward the success of your Analytics journey and overall digital transformation. Select the one that works best so all your GA4 reports are based on that attribution model.
7. Are custom insights created?
Custom insights in GA4 are prebuilt or custom machine learning models that analyze your GA4 data and provide you with actionable insights and recommendations. These insights are designed to help you understand user behavior, identify opportunities for optimization, and improve your marketing performance.
You can examine your current data to see if any custom insights need to be configured. Anomaly detection for your organization can be an excellent example here. For example 30-day active users – increase or decrease by 20%. This way you could set up custom insights for all your business KPIs.
The key difference in Google Analytics 4 is that you now have access to additional information through Custom Insights feature and can tailor these insights to meet your specific data analysis needs. There are also Automated insights generated by GA4 that are designed to be user-friendly, just like the rest of GA4, so your data is easily accessible.
8. Are predictive metrics being utilized?
Predictive audiences are machine learning models that look at your GA4 data and identify users who are most likely to take an action, like make a purchase or sign up for a newsletter. Your advertising, and marketing activities can be more successfully targeted with the support of these demographics, which will also increase conversion rates.
Check if there is an opportunity to generate more enriched and targeted audiences while also ensuring that predictive analytics is used to its full potential. GA4 has this amazing feature of building predictive audiences for you (based on certain prerequisites), so make sure to utilize them for advanced targeting.
For digital marketers, the inclusion of predictive data in Google Analytics 4 has been an exciting change from GA3. Google’s artificial intelligence may now provide you with predictions regarding future website visitor behavior as well as a clear indication of where to focus your marketing efforts over the upcoming week(s)/month(s).
9. Are audiences created for better targeting?
Check for opportunities to build enhanced and targeted audiences, enabling you to run effective campaigns, make impactful UI/UX personalizations, and many more such activities. Audiences in GA4 are a useful resource for comprehending user behavior and adjusting your marketing strategies to fit the demands and interests of your target market. You may design more successful marketing initiatives, boost user engagement, and ultimately improve company outcomes by utilizing audience data.
Segment your Google Analytics data by the audience for in-depth analysis or export them to campaign management tools for enhanced targeting.
You can alter many aspects of Google Analytics 4 that will affect your reports by using audiences. There is essentially no limit to what you can do with GA4’s audiences report, from remarketing to studying conversions. You may easily add crucial metrics to your reports using a feature called Audience Templates.
10. Is Enhanced E-commerce Implementation in place?
Last but not the least, make sure you have implemented enhanced e-commerce on your website per best practices. This means tracking all the sales funnel steps right from product view, click, add to cart, checkout, and purchase. Make sure additional parameters like item categories, quantity, etc. are getting correctly populated.
Remarketing your customers is one of the most important campaigns organizations run to get higher conversion rates. Set up effective targeting with the help of enhanced e-commerce funnels, that can allow you to generate audiences instantly from the drop-off steps within the report itself.
- Why Analytics Audit?
An assessment of your primary digital analytics product is essentially the first step required to improve your organization’s analytics maturity. Several organizations have battled to keep accurate, comprehensive data from their digital analytics tools, resulting in a lack of trust when making choices.
- Who conducts GA4 Audits?
Tatvic is proud of its competence in Google Analytics and Tag Manager deployment and configuration! Our team of GMP-certified specialists will perform an exhaustive audit for you and advise you on where you should optimize your Google Analytics and Tag Manager.
- What are some of the important risk variables that auditors must address, and how is risk management integrated into the GA4 audit process?
Referrals, cross-domain tracking, and internal traffic audit are some of the variables that an auditor should keep in mind when creating a full audit document, and complete management of these and other factors should be done so that business tracking is not inhibited.
- How can organizations prepare for a GA4 audit, and what are some of the key steps that should be taken to ensure a successful outcome?
A pre-audit health check is required, followed by an awareness of the business requirements and type of data gathering that will be required in the future for advanced analysis.
- What are some of the common findings that auditors may uncover during a GA4 audit, and how can organizations address these findings?
On the detailed audit, little vulnerabilities that might lead to significant data discrepancies are fairly typical. When problematic settings are uncovered after a successful audit, they can assist an organization in making data-driven decisions.
- Why Analytics Audit?
With so many businesses trying to adapt to the new GA4 tool, it becomes crucial for them to be able to set it up in a way that can cater to and complement their business needs. It might be a noticeable change in the way GA4 is structured and designed, as compared to GA3. However, what matters is how effectively you can maintain the data quality on top of leveraging all the unique features this new tool has to offer.
By the way, have you tried our FREE DIY GA4 Audit tool yet? It is designed to return results in less than 5 minutes. It’s going to take away more than half of your work by uncovering any discrepancies and enhancements in your GA4 implementation with just a few clicks.