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How To Build A Web Tag Audit Plan

July 10, 2023
Google Analytics 4 Migration Via Tagmate

Web tags, also known as tracking pixels or code snippets, are integral to the digital native businesses. They collect user behavior data, enabling a more personalized and efficient online experience. Websites have an average of 43 trackers, and you need to keep track of each one to make sure everything works.

The importance of a web tag audit cannot be overstated. It ensures your tags are correctly implemented, functioning optimally, and compliant with privacy regulations. A well-executed audit can enhance site performance, improve data accuracy, and ultimately, boost sales by a significant margin.

Those in charge of a site's functionality and security should execute a web tag audit on a periodic basis. This includes website owners, marketing analysts, and SEO professionals. With the right approach and tools, even those with limited technical knowledge can successfully perform an audit, paving the way for a more effective and data-driven digital strategy. 

We have created this guide to help you create the perfect web tag audit plan for your website in a simple manner.

Let’s get started:

Preparing for a Web Tag Audit

Conducting a web tag audit requires strategic planning. First, setting clear objectives is crucial. Whether it's to improve site speed, enhance user experience, or ensure privacy compliance, defining your goals will guide the audit process.

Next, understanding your website's current tagging structure is key. This involves identifying the types and functions of existing tags. Our experience with clients highlights the fact that most websites suffer from broken tags and dependency-based issues more frequently than expected.

Lastly, gathering necessary resources and tools is essential. Google Tag Assistant, a free Chrome extension, is a valuable tool for this process. It reveals what tags are on a page and provides immediate error notifications. With these preparations in place, you're well-equipped to conduct a thorough and effective web tag audit, setting the stage for improved website performance.

Understanding Different Types of Web Tags

We all know that web tags are the backbone of digital analytics and marketing but each of them serves a unique purpose, and hence, they need to be understood comprehensively. 

Here, I will explain four primary types of web tags:

Analytics Tags: These are the workhorses of data collection. In principle, they fetch information about user behavior on your site like page views, time spent on site, and the bounce rate. For instance, Google Analytics 4 uses a JavaScript tag to collect and send data from your website to its servers. This data is later converted into tangible insights for understanding user behavior and making informed decisions.

Conversion Tracking Tags: Also known as are the linchpins of performance marketing, they track events like a user completes a desired action viz. making a purchase or filling out a form. This makes conversion tracking tags incredibly useful in validating the effectiveness of your marketing efforts and they also help optimize your ROI.

Retargeting Tags: Loved by all marketers alike, these retargeting tags are the catalysts for personalized marketing and maximizing the chances of conversion. Basically, they track the users that visited your site and display targeted ads to them on other platforms in a bid to entice them to return to your site and make a transaction. Studies show that website visitors retargeted with display ads are 70% more likely to convert. Thus, retargeting tags are essential for re-engaging your potential customers and maximizing the impact of your ad strategy.

Social Media Tags: These tags are considered the amplifiers of your brand's social presence. They track interactions with social media buttons on your site, such as clicks on 'Share' or 'Like' buttons. They are also responsible for the display of rich, engaging content when your site's links are shared on the respective social platforms. With over 4.48 billion people using social media worldwide, social media tags are uncompromisable assets for enhancing your brand's visibility and engagement.

Conducting a Manual Web Tag Audit

Undoubtedly, conducting a web tag audit manually is exhausting and frustrating! However, it is one of the best things you can do for your website as it helps ensure everything is working properly, maximize your revenue and ensure good customer experience. 

A manual web tag audit, while labor-intensive, can provide valuable insights into your website's performance and data integrity. Here's a step-by-step guide to conducting one.

Identifying Tags on Your Website

The first step is to identify all the tags on your website. This involves examining the source code of your web pages. Right-click on a webpage and select 'View Page Source' or 'Inspect Element'. In the HTML code, look for script tags. These often contain your web tags. Remember, tags can be present in the header, body, or even the footer of your web pages.

Checking for Tag Duplication

Tag duplication can lead to inaccurate data collection and slower website performance. To check for duplicate tags, you can use tools like Google Tag Assistant. After installing it, navigate to your website and click on the Google Tag Assistant icon. It will list all the tags found on the page. Look for any tags that appear more than once.

Verifying Tag Functionality

Once you've identified your tags, it's important to verify their functionality. Are they firing correctly? Are they collecting the right data? Again, Google Tag Assistant can help. It not only identifies tags but also checks if they're working correctly. Any issues will be highlighted in red or yellow.

You can also manually test tag functionality. For example, if you have a conversion tracking tag that fires when a form is submitted, test it by filling out the form and checking if the tag fires.

Documenting Your Findings

Documentation is a critical part of a web tag audit. It helps you keep track of your findings and provides a reference for future audits. Create a spreadsheet and list all the tags you've found. Include details like where the tag is located, what data it collects, whether it's functioning correctly, and any issues you've identified.

Conducting a manual web tag audit can be a complex task, especially for larger websites. However, it's a valuable exercise that can lead to improved website performance, more accurate data collection, and ultimately, increased sales. By identifying and fixing issues like duplicate or non-functioning tags, you can ensure your website is set up for success.

Using Free Tools for Web Tag Auditing

In the realm of web tag auditing, several free tools can simplify the process and provide valuable insights. One of the most popular and effective is Google Tag Assistant.

Google Tag Assistant

Google Tag Assistant is a free Chrome extension that facilitates the validation of tracking codes on your website. It identifies all the tags present on a webpage and provides immediate feedback on their status. This tool is particularly useful for auditing Google tags, such as Google Analytics, Google Ads, and Google Tag Manager, but it can also identify other tags.

Google Tag Assistant color-codes tags based on their status. Green indicates a correctly functioning tag, blue suggests non-standard implementation but the tag is still functioning, while yellow and red indicate minor and major issues, respectively.

How to Use Google Tag Assistant Tool for Auditing

Using Google Tag Assistant for auditing is straightforward. After installing the extension, navigate to the webpage you want to audit and click on the Google Tag Assistant icon in your browser toolbar. Click 'Enable' to start the audit.

The tool will list all the tags found on the page, along with their status. Clicking on each tag will provide more detailed information, such as any errors or suggestions for improvement. For instance, if a Google Analytics tag is not firing correctly, Google Tag Assistant will highlight this and provide potential reasons and solutions.

Remember to check all pages of your website, not just the homepage. Different pages may have different tags, and it's important to ensure they're all functioning correctly.

Google Tag Assistant also has a 'Record' feature. This allows you to record a journey through your website, tracking which tags fire on each page and at what point. This is particularly useful for auditing tags that should fire on specific user actions, like form submissions or purchases.

Creating a Web Tag Management Plan

After conducting a web tag audit and analyzing the results, the next step is to create a web tag management plan. This involves establishing tag governance, developing a tag implementation strategy, and planning for ongoing tag maintenance and audits.

Establishing Tag Governance

Tag governance refers to the policies and procedures that guide how tags are used on your website. This includes who is responsible for implementing and managing tags, what standards and best practices should be followed, and how compliance with privacy regulations will be ensured.

Establishing clear tag governance is crucial for maintaining data accuracy and integrity. It helps prevent issues like tag duplication or incorrect implementation, and ensures your website remains compliant with privacy regulations.

Developing a Tag Implementation Strategy

A tag implementation strategy outlines how and when tags should be added to your website. This includes deciding which tags are needed, where they should be placed, and how they should be configured.

Your strategy should be guided by your business objectives. For example, if your goal is to improve your understanding of user behavior, you might implement additional analytics tags. If your goal is to optimize your marketing efforts, you might implement more conversion tracking or retargeting tags.

Planning for Ongoing Tag Maintenance and Audits

Web tag management is not a one-time task. It requires ongoing maintenance and regular audits to ensure your tags continue to function correctly and provide accurate data.

Plan to conduct regular web tag audits, at least once a year, or more frequently if your website changes often. Regular maintenance should also include checking for and fixing any issues, updating tags as needed, and continually optimizing your tag implementation.

By establishing tag governance, developing a tag implementation strategy, and planning for ongoing maintenance and audits, you can ensure your website is set up for accurate data collection and optimal performance. This, in turn, can pave the way for improved sales.

Wrap Up

Regular web tag audits are invaluable for any business operating online. They ensure your data collection is accurate, your website performance is optimized, and your marketing efforts are effective. 

After your audit, the journey doesn't end. It's time to put your findings into action. Prioritize and fix identified issues, seize opportunities for improvement, and implement your web tag management plan. Remember, web tag management is an ongoing process, not a one-time task. By doing so, you're setting your website, and your business, up for success.

Find it too complicated? Try Tagmate!

Top questions people ask about Server Side Tagging
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