Don’t conduct a Google Analytics 4 audit for your website without guidance from a pro—check out our process to help make your GA4 audit a success.
If you don’t dwell in the world of analytics all day/every day like some of us do, then Google Analytics 4 may not be on your radar—yet. But it will be soon enough.
Recently, Google announced that Universal Analytics (sometimes called GA3) is going away forever in July 2023. In its place, users will have to use the new and improved Google Analytics 4 (GA4) interface.
So what do business owners and marketers need to know about GA4? And how do you know if your GA4 is set up to yield the best data for your marketing strategy? We’ll cover all that and more in this guide on conducting a Google Analytics 4 audit for your website.
What business owners should know about GA4
Google announced that as of July 2023, Universal Analytics will no longer be supported—which means if you’re not on GA4 by then, your Google Analytics data will stop flowing (eek!) Therefore, the sooner you make the transition, the better.
And not only will the data stop flowing, but you won’t even have access to your Universal Analytics data anymore. So setting up your GA4 the right way now ensures you’ll have enough data to help drive crucial decision-making moves come summer 2023.
Business owners shouldn’t be too sad to see Universal Analytics go—Google Analytics 4 is highly customizable, giving users control over everything from navigation to custom reporting and event tracking. In addition, GA4’s new and improved analytics capabilities make it easier than ever to see exactly how your digital marketing strategies are paying off.
GA4 also features the ability to track data beyond your website. For example, if your business has a mobile application, you can now use GA4 to track that user data, too.
What is a Google Analytics 4 audit?
Savvy business owners rely on analytics data the way pilots rely on the gauges in an airplane’s cockpit—it’s how they navigate a business’s digital journey. As such, Google Analytics data helps monitor organic growth, build effective sales funnels, and design targeted ad campaigns that grow your digital influence (among tons of other things).
So just like airplanes are inspected periodically for safety and maintenance, you should audit Google Analytics regularly to ensure it’s configured to optimize data output that aligns with your business goals.
If you don’t have your GA4 setup yet, you should still perform an audit for your Universal Analytics setup. As you do, note the customizations you made to your Universal Analytics so that you know what you want your GA4 implementation to look like once you make the switch.
Google Analytics 4 Audit Checklist: How to Conduct a Comprehensive Audit
Here’s an overview of my thorough five-step process for conducting a professional GA4 audit.
Step 1: Measurement Strategy
What KPIs do I need to track to measure how well my website supports my business goals?
The first step of a GA4 audit is to assess your measurement strategy. While this may not be a traditional first step, we suggest including it because it ensures your GA4 data tracking aligns with your business’s goals. Your business goals are the North Star of the G4 audit—they’re the whole reason you track vital digital data in the first place.
Your measurement strategy is a document that outlines your business goals and how that translates into website tracking and Google Analytics tracking. By knowing in advance what website key performance indicators (KPIs) can help support your goals, you can ensure the rest of your audit yields the most fruitful results. During this preliminary stage of the audit, you can assess how your website tracks and supports each of these goals.
For example, if you’re hoping to score more leads, what specific metrics do you need to track to align your website with that goal? Depending on your business model, the answer may include actions like form submissions, free trial sign-ups, or phone calls. Then, for your audit, note whether these critical metrics are being tracked (if not, you know to add these measurements later).
Step 2: Admin & Property Settings
Are my property settings intentional and aligned with my measurement strategy?
Time to dive into your administrative configuration and ensure your settings align with your measurement strategy. Log into your Google Analytics account. On the bottom left hand of your screen, click the gear icon to open your admin and settings. Work through each property setting to assess whether it’s configured correctly.
Property settings include basic information such as your time zone, industry, and currency displays. Make sure these are all accurate and up-to-date.
Property Access Management
Here, you’ll note who has access to your Google Analytics 4 property. If you manage Google Analytics for a client, ensure that only those with proper authorization can access the account. You can also add or remove users from here.
This is how GA4 knows what data to measure. Make sure the correct website is listed and verify that it’s streaming data. If you have an app, you can also include that in your data stream.
Click on each of your data streams to access the enhanced measurement setting. GA4 can automatically create events to measure for you, including:
- Page views
- Scroll depths
- Outbound links
- Video engagement
- File downloads
Ensure all these are turned on during your audit unless you plan to create custom events yourself.
Start by clicking on data collection. You’ll see options to enable more enhanced data tracking options (like Google Signals, which aids in ad personalization). Make sure each data collection option is toggled on.
Next, click on data retention. Data retention is automatically set to two months, meaning you will only ever have two months of data to analyze. Most companies will want to change this to 14 months so that you have year-over-year data. The only reason you wouldn’t switch is if your company has strict privacy policies about data collection and storage.
Finally, click on data filters. Some businesses may prefer to use this feature to filter out internal traffic or other irrelevant data sources. In your audit, check if you’re currently using any filters and note whether you need to make any changes.
GA4 allows you to import external data sources and join them with Google Analytics. During your audit, check to see if this feature is being utilized.
People often interact with websites across different devices over a period of time before they convert. For example, someone might discover your website while browsing on their phone and then come back on their computer the next day to purchase a product or service. GA4 is wise enough to be able to track this cross-device user journey. Note here whether you’re currently using the Blended or Observed reporting identity.
This setting helps calculate conversion credit in your reports. The default setting is the “cross channel data-driven” setting, but you also have the option to use other options such as first click, last click, or linear. Note which method you’re using and whether that choice is intentional.
Next, inspect your lookback window settings. Conversions don’t always happen the same day a person interacts with your ad or content. The lookback window measures how far back in time a modification is eligible for attribution. Note which time periods you have selected (most businesses will want to opt for the thirty and ninety-day windows).
Property Change History & Data Deletion Requests
There’s nothing much you need to do here for the audit. But do note that this activity log exists should you ever need to come back to check when someone changed a setting.
This is where you note whether you’ve linked all the tools you use for success. For example, many businesses use Google Ads for paid search or Google Search Console to monitor activity in search results, so note whether these tools are connected.
Step 3: Events & Conversions
What events am I tracking, and do they align with my measurement strategy?
Each section of the audit is essential, but auditing your events and conversions is an especially important section since it helps measure your ROI.
Start by clicking “configure” in the left-hand menu and click “events.” You’ll see a list of all the events GA4 is currently tracking. By default, with enhanced measurement, you’ll get page views, outbound link clicks, video views, etc. But it’s also important you have forms tracked along with any other significant events as well.
During the audit, track what events you’re currently using and compare that with the measurement plan of what user behaviors you want to track. Look for custom events that still need to be set up, such as measuring form submissions, calendar bookings, or phone calls.
Finally, check that you have the necessary events marked as conversions. Of course, only some events will be a conversion (page scrolls or views usually don’t count as conversions), so be sure your conversions are labeled appropriately.
Step 4: Reporting Interface
Am I taking full advantage of the customizable reporting interface available in GA4?
To audit your reporting interface, start by clicking “Reports” on the left panel. By default, you’ll see a navigation menu titled “Life Cycle” with reports for Acquisition, Engagement, Monetization, and Retention.
But here’s the thing—GA4 makes this section fully customizable, so you can tweak everything from the navigation titles to the report types you see. During your audit, your goal is to assess whether this section has been customized appropriately or is still on the standard setup.
If there are reports you’re not using, get rid of them (you can always add them later if you need them). These extra reports clutter your analytics dashboard, so you should only keep reports you actually use.
Step 5: Creating Custom Reports & Explorations
What custom reports and explorations am I currently using, and what do I need to add to better align with my measurement strategy?
The last step of the audit is to see which custom reports and explorations are being used. The sky is really the limit here—GA4 enables users to measure nearly any metric you can think of.
For example, in the days of Universal Analytics, many people liked the landing page report, which offers insight into how people enter your site. This is the type of custom report you can create in GA4, along with others.
Explorations are another insightful tool that offers visual representations of critical data. For example, the Path exploration report shows how people navigate through your website. Or keep tabs on your funnel from top to bottom (i.e., monitoring drop off rates) with the Funnel report. During your audit, note which reports are currently being used and which ones would be valuable to add. It’s also good to note if your client will be doing their reporting in Looker Studio and automating their reporting or if they will be using the GA4 interface primarily.
Google Analytics 4 Audit Checklist & Template
If you plan on performing your own Google Analytics 4 audit, we’ve got some helpful tools to save you time and ensure you check all the boxes. But, of course, a DIY audit is only efficient if you’re as thorough as the pros, so here are some resources to make your GA4 audit a success.
How do you know if your company needs a Google Analytics 4 audit?
Does your company use a website to generate revenue and build brand awareness? Are you building an organic presence and/or running paid ads? Then you won’t want to miss the chance to audit your Google Analytics 4 setup.
Not sure if you’ve upgraded from Universal Analytics? Given the time-sensitivity of July 2023 when you’ll be migrated to GA4 whether you’re ready or not, it’s worth checking ASAP. Otherwise, you won’t have much as far as historical data to see what’s working for your marketing strategies (everything from Universal Analytics is being deleted for eternity, so the sooner you switch, the more data you’ll have come July).
I created this free assessment tool to make it easy for business owners to assess whether their GA4 is up to date. Just answer a few questions to find out if your analytics are up to date—it’s that easy!
If auditing your Google Analytics 4 account yourself sounds like more hassle than it’s worth, consider allowing a pro to step in. My team of analytics experts and I have helped audit and configure GA4 in a flash for businesses across various industries. Learn more about how we can help audit and configure GA4 for your business today.
About the Author: John Reinesch is a digital marketing consultant based out of Long Island, NY. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter if you have any questions.