Google Tag Assistant Recordings lets you record a user journey across the web so you can validate your own site design, and validate your Analytics implementation on that site so you can make sure you’re collecting the data you want. You can also validate the tags for other Google products like Google Ads, Campaign Manager, and Tag Manager.In this article:
- The problem of bad site design
- The problem of bad data
- How Google Tag Assistant Recordings works
- Google Tag Assistant Recordings reports
- Who should use Google Tag Assistant Recordings
- Prerequisites for using Google Tag Assistant Recordings
- Limitations of Google Tag Assistant Recordings
- Related resources
The problem of bad site design
By recording user journeys, you have the opportunity to travel the same paths your users take, and to see whether they encounter problems with site design like:
- Landing pages that are not relevant to the ads or links that sent them there
- Calls to action that are not readily available
- Page layout or overall navigation that doesn’t lead users toward the goals you have in mind
The problem of bad Analytics implementation
If you don’t have Analytics implemented correctly, you’re not getting the data you really need. By recording user journeys, you can see which of your tags are firing, and how the data they collect is processed by Analytics.
Not having the right data in Analytics can negatively impact your business by leading you to make ineffectual or counterproductive decisions, and to miss opportunities that would have been apparent if your original data were valid.
While Analytics does perform regular automated diagnostics on your properties, these diagnostics are subject to some limitations:
- Diagnostics are only applied to the data you’ve already collected, so any corrupted or bad data is already part of your account.
- Diagnostics can’t crawl pages that are protected by authentication or login walls, or that are part of dynamic page flows, such as an ecommerce checkout process.
- Diagnostics does not understand the structure of your site or the way your users can navigate among pages.
- Diagnostics can’t tell you if a problem has been fixed until more data has been collected and processed, and by that time, you might have collected even more bad data if the fix didn’t work.
Tag Assistant Recordings let you get around all of those limitations.
How Google Tag Assistant Recordings works
Google Tag Assistant Recordings is part of the Google Tag Assistant extension for the Chrome browser. When Google Tag Assistant Recordings is active, you can record the tags, events, and interactions for any arbitrary series of pages or sites you visit. You can use Google Tag Assistant Recordings to record all the pages that make up a complete user journey, even if part of the journey doesn’t occur on your primary domain.
For example, a typical user journey might start with a user searching the web for your product, then clicking a resulting paid ad or organic (unpaid) link that takes the user to your site. The user may browse your product catalog, add an item to a shopping cart (which might be hosted on a different domain), review their order, provide shipping and payment information, click a Submit Order button, and finally, return to your site’s Thank You page, where you record a Goal completion.
With Google Tag Assistant Recordings enabled, each of these pages is part of the recording, including pages that are not part of your site or that are constructed dynamically (such as the shopping cart’s Review Order page). For each page in the journey, Google Tag Assistant Recordings conducts a number of tests and gathers information on the results, which it reports to you when the recording is finished. Google Tag Assistant Recordings reports include only the data collected by your own journey; they aren’t cluttered with information from other users’ activities.
You can save a recording and reanalyze it later, which lets you make changes to your Analytics account configuration and see the effects of those changes by rerunning the recording against the new configuration. There’s no need to repeat the recording steps. This allows you to validate and refine your configuration in real time.
When you reanalyze a recording, the hits in that recording are not sent to Analytics, so your data is not impacted as you troubleshoot and refine your configuration.
Google Tag Assistant Recordings can also review your tags across other Google products and non-Google sites.
Google Tag Assistant Recordings reports
Google Tag Assistant Recordings provides two detailed reports:
The Tag Assistant report
The Tag Assistant report shows all the tags that fired on all the pages you visited during the recording session. This includes Google tags, for example, Analytics tracking codes, Google Tag Manager tags, and Campaign Manager Remarketing tags, as well as third-party (non-Google) tags that may contain or manage Google tags.
The Analytics report
The Analytics report shows how your recorded data would look when processed by your current Analytics configurations. You can select from all your properties and views to verify your web site and Analytics implementation. You can make changes to your Analytics configuration and easily reanalyze your recordings to test and refine that implementation.
Who should use Google Tag Assistant Recordings
Google Tag Assistant Recordings was designed with two key audiences in mind:
Marketers - anyone making decisions based on Analytics data. Marketers can use Google Tag Assistant Recordings to quickly validate that their site and Analytics configuration are working well together.
Developers - anyone actually building web products and implementing Analytics or other tags. Developers can get detailed information on how the tags they’ve implemented behave so that they can validate their products and troubleshoot problems.
Prerequisites for using Google Tag Assistant Recordings
Currently, Google Tag Assistant Recordings is only available as part of the Google Tag Assistant Chrome browser extension.
Limitations of Google Tag Assistant Recordings
- Unsaved recordings are temporary; they are stored until you close your browser window or start a new recording.
- Saving a recording only preserves the Analytics portion of the recording; the Google Tag Assistant portion and associated report is not saved. You can print your reports to PDF if you wish to preserve them.
- Google Tag Assistant Recordings is currently available only in English.
Sessions recorded by Google Tag Assistant Recordings are private. Your online activity is not stored or tracked by the extension (beyond the hit traffic that is sent to Analytics as part of the analysis).
Also note that Chrome extensions are automatically configured not to run in Incognito tabs. You can configure them to run in Incognito windows from the Chrome Extensions page (enter chrome://extensions/ in the address field of your Chrome browser to manage extensions).