Google Analytics Audit – Our Process for Optimal Data Quality

Do you want to learn how to audit a Google Analytics account?

You can save money by performing your own audits, or you can make money by conducting audits for others.

In this guide, we will explain our approach to Google Analytics audits to help clients enhance their SEO and enhance their data quality.

Are you ready to put your Google Analytics skills to work?

If you’re a Google Analytics expert, you could be diagnosing problems in clients’ Google Analytics configuration and improving their data quality.

But how do you actually start an audit?

An effective Google Analytics audit should include meaningful goal-setting, a data-driven assessment, and an invitation to continue providing service to your client. In this guide, we will walk you through our auditing process and share some of our favorite tools that help us generate high-quality data. 

Let’s dive in.

When Does a Website Need an Audit?

Lots of business owners know that they need to improve their SEO, but they don’t have the data to make positive change. That’s where a Google Analytics audit comes in.

Most of the time, we start our client services with an audit because we need to determine what data we can work with. We need to know what kind of data the client has, how it was gathered, and how good the data quality is.

This helps us make custom prescriptions for individual clients. Depending on the current quantity and quality of the data, we will adjust our approach to tracking, analysis, and implementation. Sometimes a client needs some very basic and fundamental changes, and sometimes they need higher-end, detailed tweaks. But for us, everything starts with the Google Analytics audit.

That’s how important the audit is. And if you’ve never done an audit before, it can be difficult to know where to start. This post is your roadmap to performing your own audits.

Set Goals: What Should an Audit Accomplish?

Like any good service, your audit should be solving a client’s problem. Your goal should be to meet their SEO goals, but you also have business goals. Let’s look at both objectives.

Your Client’s Audit Goals

If your client needs an audit, they probably want to improve their website engagement but don’t know how to improve traffic or conversions. The type of user engagement they seek will depend on their business, their target audience, and other individual factors.

Consider goals from a potential client’s perspective. Imagine a small business trying to get on SERP Local Packs, or a startup developing a new website with no following. What goals might an eCommerce shop have that differ from those of an edtech platform?

Although our instinct might be to start listing Goals in Google Analytics, try to step back and think about goals in the client’s terms. The client wants an audit to facilitate their goals, so focus on developing (and marketing!) a framework that addresses those goals.

Top Tip: if your client needs improved Google Analytics Goals, check out our ultimate guide to Goals here!

Your Audit Goals

As the auditor, one of your primary objectives is to meet your client’s data goals. However, this is just one component of a much larger goal: client satisfaction.

Your audit should produce value to your customer. The benefits to their business should offset the cost of the audit. Focus on making your audit timely, easy to understand, and actionable.

The boon of client satisfaction is a good rapport that potentially opens up more business opportunities. They will want to continue working with you, and they may recommend you to other leads.

Use the audit to promote yourself as the leading expert on your client’s system. This will make you their first choice not only for implementation of changes recommended in the audit but for future data and SEO needs. 

Assess: Conduct Your Google Analytics Audit

Communicate

Information is the basis of your Google Analytics audit. Some will come from your Google Analytics account assessment, but some will come directly from your client.

Before anything else, you should talk to your client and figure out what their Google Analytics implementation is all about. Every good audit starts with good questions.

When conducting a website audit, ask your client questions like:

  • How do you use Google Analytics?
  • What kind of type of company is this?
  • How does your business model relate to Google Analytics?
  • What do you want to get out of Google Analytics?

Your client may already have a decent understanding of Google Analytics, or they may be completely inexperienced. Either way, these questions help you establish an approach that supports their goals.

Use a Framework

This is really where you put your Google Analytics skills to use. Using your preferred template or framework, now is the time to assess your client’s Google Analytics account.

Checklists

One of the easiest ways to do this is to use a checklist. We have our own checklist here at MeasureSchool that you can download.

However you set up your framework, you should make it easy to read by including certain features. Sorting items by category will help you work efficiently, and it will also help you understand what broader areas are stronger or need improvement. You can even have subcategories to form a hierarchy of Google Analytics configurations and features.

Your framework should also include a solution for items that are missing or configured incorrectly. Having a standard recommendation or procedure to fix each Google Analytics feature will keep your work consistent and demonstrate professionalism to your client.

Finally, you should include a key or legend to make your data readable. It should be clear to the reader what features are working and what aspects need improvement. It might also be helpful to include your contact information here in case your client or any other stakeholders have questions.

Screenshot of Google Sheets template titled Google Analytics Setup Checklist, with setup categories, recommendations, and checklist key highlighted

Remember that although it’s efficient to have a standard framework, you might apply it differently to different clients. Not every aspect will be relevant to each client’s account, so you might make adjustments to your checklist or template to reflect your client’s needs.

Having a standard framework like a checklist is invaluable to ensuring that everything is tracked and configured correctly. It also gives you great documentation for reporting, since it presents a visual overview of your client’s Google Analytics account.

Scorecards

There are different ways to build a framework, and some of the best ones help you prioritize the most important configurations for good data. You can do this by scoring some items more heavily than others.

Personally, I’m a big fan of Brian Clifton’s approach to scoring. You can find a more thorough explanation on his website or in his book, Successful Analytics.

In his reporting method, he takes broad aspects of his client’s Google Analytics account and scores them according to his framework. These weighted scores determine an overall Google Analytics data quality score, which tells him in which percentile clients’ Google Analytics accounts fall.

WeightStatusWeighted Score
1. Google Analytics Account Setup & Governance1.0Fair5.0
2. GATC Deployment1.0Good10.0
3. AdWords and WMT Data1.0Poor0.0
4. Site Search Tracking1.0Poor0.0
5. File Download Tracking1.0Poor0.0
6. Outbound Link Tracking1.0Poor0.0
7. Form Completion Tracking1.0Poor0.0
8. Video TrackingN/A
9. Error Page Tracking0.5Poor0.0
10. Transaction Tracking2.0Poor0.0
11. Event Tracking (i.e. non-pageviews)1.0Poor0.0
12. Goal Setup1.0Poor0.0
13. Funnel Setup1.0Poor0.0
14. Visitor Labeling1.0Poor0.0
15. Campaign Tracking1.0Fair5.0
Google Analytics Quality Score
(out of 100)
13.8
Example of a data quality audit scorecard from Brian Clifton’s model

With this final scoring, he can determine what improvements to prioritize and recommend. Low-scoring accounts should focus on basic, fundamental fixes, while higher-scoring accounts should focus on fine-tuning their data collection.

You can borrow ideas from other auditors, come up with your own solutions, or a mixture of both. Either way, your framework should help keep your assessments consistent and easy to communicate while delivering actionable recommendations to your client.

Next Steps: What Comes After an Audit?

Deliver a Report

After you’ve completed an assessment, your report will convey your findings to your client and complete your audit.

It’s a good idea to include a copy of how you applied your framework to your client’s Google Analytics account. Whether or not they understand each item and recommendation, they will want to see your work.

The rest of your report should help your client understand the significance of your findings and convince them to make changes to their Google Analytics account to improve their data quality (more on this in a moment).

Your data report can come in different forms. Some people like written reports that describe business impacts and suggest solutions. These often rely on a combination of text and carefully-selected tables, graphs, and figures,

Screenshot of a sample analytics audit from MeasureSchool in PDF form

This is a good strategy when you want something physical to hand to your client or distribute to various stakeholders. If you can’t verbally present your report, this method still effectively communicates all of the data to stakeholders. Even if you meet with your client to present or discuss the audit, it’s a good idea to leave them with something that they can refer to later.

There’s also the classic verbal presentation. You will probably still want some slides or handouts to accompany your presentation, but the face-to-face sales pitch is still one of your most powerful tools. You can immediately answer questions, and clients will develop a stronger relationship with you. This is your chance to demonstrate your professionalism, expert knowledge, and value to your client. 

Market Yourself

Whatever media you choose, remember that your report is a tool for offering additional services after your audit. 

The audit diagnoses problems in a Google Analytics account, and you are well-positioned to fill the prescriptions that will solve those problems. If you are the leading expert in your client’s problems and potential solutions, then who better to implement those solutions than you?

When writing or presenting your audit, don’t just tell your client about their account’s problems—describe how you can offer solutions and what benefits they will reap. You can even offer a quote for your services should they hire you for further work.

Above all, make sure to communicate value to the client. They should see hiring you as an investment that will return value to them, so don’t undersell or downplay the importance of your service in your report. 

Summary

Set goals, communicate effectively, and get really, really good at Google Analytics: that’s the recipe for performing great audits. If you follow this guide, you can develop your own framework to improve your clients’ data quality and maximize their SEO. 

Ready to monetize your data skills in additional ways? Check out our video tutorial How to Make Money Selling Analytics Services to learn how to turn a profit on implementation, analysis and reporting, training, and more.

If performing your own Google Analytics audit seems overwhelming, reach out to us for an audit—check out our Google Analytics Audit package below!

If you have already done analytics audits for clients, we’d love to hear from you! Let us know your top auditing tips or suggest content you’d like to see in the comments below.

Julian Juenemann
About the author: Julian Juenemann

Julian started and grew venture-backed startups with his unique 'data first' approach to Online Marketing. He then founded MeasureSchool.com to help marketers, like him, the data-driven way of digital marketing.

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Guido Hummel
Guido Hummel
2 months ago

A feature that I started including in my checklist is whther they are tracking PPI or not.