Google Analytics have a special place in my heart because it has helped me recognize and fix my mistakes for many years. That’s why I make sure every website we launch is fully ready to collect data.

Unfortunately, not that many developers, web agencies or website owners place Analytics set-up on their priority when launching a website. And it’s completely fair, after all, they have so many things to worry about. The only problem is, after a few months when someone on their team (SEO, CRO, Marketing, dev, business and so on) want to check the data, they realize that they all that time the website didn’t track goals, events, search… sometimes they don’t even have any Google Analytics at all.

Months of data lost.

So I thought that if we could make a simple step by step checklist detailed enough we could help web workers make sure that each and every website collects the data they need.

The Timeless Google Analytics Checklist

  1. First of all, make sure the tracking Code is set properly.
    If you want, you can simply set up a new Google Analytics account, and paste the tracking code in your header or footer. The script looks like this:Google Analytics tracking code

    If you need more information on setting up the tracking code click here.

  2. Include the tracking code in every page: stand-alone pages, different templates, forms, anything that doesn’t use the header or footer where the main tracking code is.
  3. Subdomain and cross-domain. If you use sub-domains or multiple domains you can easily track them with Google Analytics in the same property. Find out how to configure Google Analytics for subdomains and cross-domains.
  4. Create a second view or profile. Google Analytics collects data for each profile/view differently. So if you make a mistake in your settings, you might lose data. Always keep a default view with everything, just in case. It’s like working in a lab and keeping a control sample. To create a new view simply go to Admin > View > Add new view. We will assume from here that all the changes you’re making are in the newly created view.add a view in google Analytics
  5. Exclude your IP from the tracking. You don’t want your data to interfere with the real visitors data. Here is how to do it.
  6. Sync Google Seach Console with Google Analytics. Somewhat easy. The idea is to make sure that you can get all the data from Google Search Console transferred to your Analytics account. You will then get access to some very useful features:google analytics search consoleYou can learn more about linking Search Console to your GA if you’re not sure how it works.
  7. Link Adwords and Analytics if you have any Adwords campaign running or plan to run any. Here is how to do it.
  8. Enable Demographics if you’re interested in Audience data. If your website has enough traffic, it could be quite useful. Just remember that the data is not very accurate since it’s based on the user’s browser history and social media profiles (like Google Plus). Also, visitors under 18 are not represented, they are mixed with the rest. But it can still be a great way to A/B test, segmentation, and remarketing. Read more here.
  9. Enable Site Search. If you have a Search field anywhere on your website, enable site search. Go to Admin > View Settings > Enable Site Search and specify what are the parameters.Google Analytics enable search settingsThe parameter, or query, depends completely on your search system. If you pass the query in the URL like this “mysite.com/search.php?q=keyword” then you can simply specify the q as the parameter. If you use a plugin, for example, you can use a custom javascript code to make sure the parameter is passed to Google like this:

    Custom javascript code for site parameter Google Analytics

  10. Enable Benchmark. This is another underestimated feature in Google Analytics. Basically, you agree to anonymously share your data with your Industry, and in return, you can compare your results with them. Pretty cool eh? here is how to do it.
  11. Speed sample. If you don’t change that value, GA will test the speed of your site once every blue moon. If your traffic is high it’s OK, but if your traffic is under 100 visits/day, you might want to collect more samples. For this you must change your tracking code to this:site sample rate Google Analytics
  12. E-Commerce Tracking (if relevant). There is so much to say about tracking E-com with Analytics that I recommend you read this great article by SEMRush about it.
  13. If you’re like me, you’ll want to set up Goals to try and put a number on your actual goals. It could be every time a visitor subscribe to your service, clicks on your phone number, or buy a product. Goals are powerful and are based on two different tracking systems.
    • Destination page: Ideal with conversion funnels for E-commerce (e.g. cart > checkout > thank you).
    • Event-based: A user clicked on the Call Us Button. More common but requires setting up Events.
  14. Event Tracking. Time-consuming and sometimes tedious but oh! so powerful. You can track any interaction a user has with your website. Probably requires some javascript knowledge. here is a complete guide to Event tracking in GA.
  15. Marketing Campaigns. Even if your campaign provider tracks data, you want to make sure you have your own website tracking system. Basically, you create a link that contains data for a specific campaign and everytime user use that link to go to your website they will fall under the campaign name in Google Analytics. You will need Google URL Builder to build your campaigns URL.
  16. Filter Spammers to keep your data as clean as possible (hint:it will never be 100% accurate). We follow this very useful article to filter spam.
  17. Weather Conditions. What? Well, this one is for fun. But it could actually be helpful. With GA you can tell what’s your website’s conversion rate based on day and time, source and location. That’s great, but maybe you should add the weather to it. What if a rainy day happens to have twice as many conversions? Here is how to do it.
  18. Update your Privacy Policy depending on your country’s regulations to make sure your users know how much data you’re collecting and for what purposes.

I hope you enjoyed that Google Analytics Checklist and that it will help you collect useful data to make your website even better!

If I missed anything don’t hesitate to contact me at anthony(at)noblepixels.ca to let me know.

Interestingly enough, many web development companies don’t differentiate website redesign from building a new website from scratch.

Well, it is different, and for many business owners and managers, it’s one of the biggest decision they’ll make in years.

  • Should I revamp my website completely since I know it is a bit dated?
  • What if I lose my rankings? Or my clients don’t like the new design?
  • Maybe I can improve some sections first and finish later?
  • How long does it take? What’s the process?
  • How much does it cost?
  • Which web development company should I ask?

 

The Right Time to Get a Website Redesign?

website redesign processDepending on how long you’ve had your website for, it might be the right time to do a redesign.

Generally, these occur every 1 to 3 years. One year being the minimum for users and search engine not to get too confused with changing User Interface and Information Architecture. Three years being the limit for technology to still offer a valuable User Experience.

To know if it’s the right time you need to ask yourself this: “Can my website do everything I need?

  • Can my website offer a good experience on mobile?
  • Can it be understood immediately by users?
  • Can it get better rankings in its current state?
  • Can it be maintained easily?

Be honest with your answers and you’ll know if you need a better solution.

 

Small changes or Full Website Redesign?

If you ask a professional about whether you should keep your old system and put bandaids or get a new one, chances are you’ll get told: “It will cost you just a little bit more to get a whole new system, and it will last you much longer”.

Sometimes you could get away with a temporary solution but eventually, you’ll need a full redesign.

In fact getting a new system allows you to:

  1. Clean up everything and start fresh.
  2. Improve what wasn’t working and keep what works.
  3. Enjoy the latest technologies.
  4. Get a system that will last years.
  5. Sleep better at night knowing that your website is as good as it could get.

The best way to know is to ask a competent web development studio for advice.

 

Website Redesign Project Plan

Website redesign project planEvery system has its own rules, but here is the approach we commonly use.

First, list all the limitations of your current website.

You probably have already an idea of what’s wrong with your website but it’s always good to get external opinions as well.

The best way is to ask your clients for feedback since they are the users you care about. Try to offer them sales or perks to get more feedback.

You can also use anonymous opinions from online services like five seconds tests where users have five seconds to look at a design before they answer your questions.

Finally, ask your web development company to tell you what could be improved.

And remember to take every opinion with a grain of salt because ultimately, it’s your website.

Second, keep what works well!

The greatest fear of most website owners is to lose something during a website redesign. And it’s a fair concern. Does the web designer know about that little thing that your users love? Does the project manager know your conversion rate? do they understand your story? So many things to save from the redesign.

While you ask for feedback, make sure you also collect information about what makes your site successful, and what your visitors like particularly.

Visitors feedback + Years of Analytics = good planning

Don’t forget about your Analytics. You probably have them on your current website and there is probably someone within your web team dying to use them (I’m that guy).

If the Analytics expert is professional enough, they’ll extract valuable data from your Google Analytics account. For example what pages are visited the most compared against the time of the year, the traffic source, the device used, the demographic, etc…

They can also tell how your CTAs are doing, how your conversion funnels can be improved, and whether or not a landing page is doing well. If you have more analytics, like let’s say, rankings and social media, it’s even better.

 

Website Redesign Process

website redesign processFirst step, get a kick-ass UX and an awesome Information Architecture!

Once you’re done with the list of what you want to keep and what to get rid off, your web team will start working on two fronts:

Information Architecture: The idea is to design a map of your new website. Ideally, it should not be too different from the old one, just improved. If a popular page use to take three clicks to reach, make it accessible from the nav directly, and maybe even the homepage.

Keep what works, remove what’s useless, and simplify the access to popular items and users will thank you.

UX designNow is time for your web team to show their web design skills. We personally love UX, and we know how important it is. Years ago, webmasters use to think “do I need to put a button here? No, it’s Ok, the visitor can scroll down to the other one”. This time is over.

Study your competition to see what they do and grab some ideas from them. Then talk to your web designer to see if these are good ideas, and if they are, how to implement them.

Be original, but keep some ground rules. UX is mostly about making sure visitors can navigate and do what they have to do on your website without thinking about it. Once that goal is achieved, a nice design, something stylish or a really great tool will add some personal taste and an overall better experience.

Second step, ask your web developer to design the right technical solution.

Web Developers generally try to balance two aspects of web development. Use a technology they and their clients are comfortable with, and think long term. The first aspect is easy to figure, the second require way more thinking. Here are some challenges to address:

  • Make sure the overall solution can last as long as planned in the requirements (technology deprecation)
  • Keep it safe and secure for that period
  • Ensure the whole solutions can be passed without trouble to another web team
  • Plan a scalable solution to grow with the business
  • Make sure the site will be easy to maintain and update along the way

Once all of these challenges are addressed, it’s time to code.

Step Three, the development.

When we develop we like to involve our clients so they get the exact picture of how things are going. On the other hand, since our project are well planned and our clients trust us, there’s no need to over share updates. We focus on the goals and communicate every time we get close to a milestone.

When a client has questions, we answer them in a way they can understand, and encourage them to continue the conversation.

All this seems obvious, but so many web development company don’t offer a service like that. So make sure you get a team that cares about your project.

 

Website redesign: the Launch!

website redesign checklist

Before you get to celebrate, there is an important task to achieve. Launching the new website.

Tested and approved. You have access to the future website on a development server. Everything looks good. Has it been tested on all devices and browsers? Is the code clean and error-free? Is the new website optimized for Search Engines? Is Google Analytics properly tracking your CTAs and goals?

We’ve developed a complete checklist to help during launching. It covers the Search Engine aspect, the UX and the Google Analytics parts.

Take a look at our website launching checklist and make sure your website is ready to go live.

When your website is good to go, your web team will replace the old one with the new one in a quick and hopefully seamless process. Sometimes it takes a whole day or more to propagate and be ready, but in general, a few hours are enough.

 

Website Redesign Cost

website redesign costEven if the difference between a full new website and a website redesign is quite significant, both should take pretty much the same amount of time.

For a website redesign, the risk of failing is even greater since there are many challenges to address, and only one chance to get it right. Your users will probably not forgive you if you replace your website with a less good one. Search Engines can penalize your new website if it doesn’t follow rules.

We recommend that every website redesign is done by a web team you trust.

Now in terms of cost, it’s similar to any investment, ask for a quote and make sure your ROI is worth it. Keep in mind that most web design companies charge between $80 and $150/hour.

In any case, make sure the website is made in-house, not outsourced to a careless company miles away. Even though outsourcing can save you some bucks, it’s not worth the risk.

 

Don’t lose any of your precious SEO Juice

During a website redesign, many pages are modified, added, or removed, it’s important to tell Search Engines what you’ve done with your content. That way, they can update the search results based on your new architecture.

redirection guide for website redesign

Make sure your SEO team doesn’t make too many redirections since redirections only redirect 70 to 80% of the SEO juice in average. In short, if you can keep the old URLs, keep them.

You can read more about Website redesign SEOwebsite redesign from an entrepreneur point of view or Contact us to get a quote.

Good luck with your website redesign!