As other software, Google Analytics 4 is prone to errors. You can categorize these as 3 main issues. For all of them, the most sustainable solution is a complete mind shift and one superpower skill…
Before tackling Google Analytics errors, read this
The moment you encounter a problem in GA, you want a solution. In the long run, however, you will be best armored when you understand the broader context in which errors take place.
Keep the following 4 things in mind when facing issues with the most popular web platform.
#1 GA4 and UA errors can be different
Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics are different platforms. There is an overlap of issues and, hence, reasons GA may not be working (as expected). And then there are issues that only occur in one of both versions.
In this article, I focus on GA4. Some solutions mentioned here may work for Universal Analytics, others will not.
From the 1st of July 2023, all UA errors will be gone
That’s too much good news. So let me bring that in balance with some bad news.
#2 GA4 is in beta mode
Google Analytics 4 is in beta. This means it’s not a finished product. As a user, you are supposed to realize that you may encounter errors and bugs. Also, new features are constantly added. These may cause errors that were not there before.
But here is the thing:
Do NOT wait to use GA4 until it gets out of beta, because it may never reach that point
Yes, you read that right. There is nothing wrong with your eyes.
Even UA is still using features that are in beta, such as Cohort Analysis and Lifetime Value.
#3 The importance of debugging GA4
If you are serious about diving into GA4, one of the first skills you need to master is debugging the platform.
The moment you customize GA4 to your business needs, the more likely something will go wrong.
GA doesn’t show specific error codes when something doesn’t work with, e.g. custom dimensions, content groupings, scroll depth tracking, etc. That makes it harder to look for a solution.
In the last paragraph, I mention some useful resources to tackle these kinds of technical challenges.
#4 The knowledge gap
It’s normal to blame software when things are not working as expected. But before smashing your device against the wall, make sure you rule out human errors, based on a lack of knowledge.
But not sure if we need to mention the source? If you want to, I can create one myself.
From a technical point of view, these are not GA errors:
- Differences in data between GA and UA.
- Missing metrics and reports in GA4.
- The new navigation menu that doesn’t match with what you are used to in UA.
Let’s look at the first typical GA error category.
I cannot access Google Analytics at all
There are several explanations why you cannot access Google Analytics.
#1 Google Analytics is down
It is easy to detect if the GA platform itself is not working. Although Google’s server infrastructure is undoubtedly more stable than yours, never say, assume or even think “never”.
In 2022, 6 incidents with Google Analytics were reported:
You can see the platform’s status on the Google Ads Status Dashboard. The name is misleading. Besides Google Ads, you can check the status of a myriad of other Google products, such as Google Search Console.
The 4 status icons help you quickly understand what is happening with a Google product:
- Service information
- Service disruption
- Service outage
#2 No access to GA
If GA is up and running and you still can’t access the platform, you are having temporary troubles with your internet connection, browser or device.
The best you can do is visit this site.
Then enter the URL and check if you are the only one having troubles with GA.
If the problem is solely on your side, you will see a notification like this:
- Switch your browser.
- Visit GA in an anonymous window. An extension or other software may block you from entering GA.
#3 Access denied to a GA account or property
You can share a GA account or property with several users. The moment your access is removed, you will keep seeing the account or property for a while. But you can no longer access the account or property.
Instead, you see this warning:
Potential causes and solutions:
- At any moment, somebody, including yourself, can remove access rights. The solution? Click on the Request Access button. Do not forget to notify the administrator in another way (email, Slack…). This will speed up the approval and prevent confusion whether you are entitled to have access. And at which level.
- You switched from UA, and somebody forgot to grant you access to GA4. In that case too, ask for permission from the GA administrator.
- You are logged in with the wrong Google account. You can fix this by logging out, or logging in in another browser.
- You may be looking at the wrong property or GA account.
In one case, Google Analytics is not working. In the other two, the mistake is because of a human error. It happens to everyone, so don’t fret about it. The following category of errors is more annoying…
Why is Google Analytics not showing any data?
You may experience issues while you are logged into GA. Not seeing any data is the worst that can happen. But there too, there are several causes (and solutions).
#1 Is GA4 set up correctly?
If you haven’t installed the GA tag yet, you will see a huge warning message:
That is obvious, and yet inexperienced users miss seeing obvious hints like these.
Not everybody has the time, nor gut feeling, to read or even understand the meaning and impact behind messages that look like marketing CTAs.
Honestly, how long did it take your organization to act upon the clear UA sunset message?
So, unless GA4 is set up completely, you will not track (all) data. The best you can do is to check Admin > Data Streams > Your web stream.
Inside your web stream screen, you will see a warning:
This can mean two things:
- Nobody visited your site.
- The GA tag is not installed properly. To detect the specific cause, you can use our GA4 checklist for beginners, intermediate and advanced users to verify all is implemented correctly on your site.
So, once GA is installed, always data?
The implementation can go wrong at any time.
Probable causes of no data collection:
- The tech team accidentally publishes a development, staging or testing environment and forgot to update the GA tagging code.
- The GA4 tagging script is inserted in the wrong place. Here link to article 41: where to place GA tracking code.
- Updates in website software or plugins can block GA4 or prevent it from collecting data.
- Your website may be completely down or hacked.
#2 Missed, mis-configured or altered settings in GA4
Between the moment you set up GA4, and now, a lot may have changed. In 2022 alone, there were over 30 product releases.
Even although you do not to take any action to access the latest version of GA4, it is possible that you missed settings for data collection, such as enhanced measurements.
Another reason you may not be collecting all data can be because team members made changes to reports, explorations and even settings.
You can verify if that is the case in two places in your Admin section:
- Account Change History
- Property Change History
Then you can easily detect who made which changes in GA4. For an account, that can look as follows:
#3 Do you have access rights to the GA4 data?
Some user roles don’t have access to all data and explorations. When working as a team in your GA account, make sure everybody is aware of limitations linked to user roles.
This will prevent people from wasting their time looking for data they can’t even see, such as cost and revenue data restrictions.
#3 Is the date range correct?
The date range is an often overlooked item while looking at GA reports. Make it a habit to check this first before you dive into any report or exploration.
Also, be aware of the following two important time-related things:
- GA data appears with a delay in your account.
- GA4 only starts collecting data the moment you have implemented it correctly. When you are doing a historical comparison of your data, there may simply be no data available for the chosen period.
Why is Google Analytics not tracking data?
The last category of GA errors is due to a mixture of human errors and technical issues. This combo can cause data not being tracked.
#1 Events not marked as conversions
In GA4, you need to mark events as conversions yourself. As long as you don’t do this, you will not only miss out on powerful automated insights and custom alerts.
#2 Misconfiguration of data tracking settings
GA4 collects a lot of data automatically. You need to activate some features, such as file downloads.
On top of that, you can create your own custom events. If you have mis-configured them, you won’t track the data you badly need.
I refer to the beginning of this article and the importance of debugging Google Analytics 4. Explaining this in detail for everything that can go wrong would be impossible though.
So, what can you do best in these circumstances?
Useful Google Analytics troubleshoot resources
While the above list of common errors will help you understand and solve the most common issues in GA, other problems will remain a mystery. What follows is a list of useful resources where you can find additional help to overcome those challenges.
#1 Google Technical Support
GA is the most popular web analytics platform and it’s free. That makes it almost possible to offer a live helpdesk for everybody.
You can, however, ask help from Google’s Technical Support team. Don’t forget to grant them access to your account.
You can do this in the Admin section > Account Settings > Technical Support.
#2 Google GA community
There is an official Google Analytics forum where everybody can raise questions and ask for assistance to fix GA troubles.
However, as you can see from the below recent screenshot of the site, you will need to be extremely patient.
The last option will get you much further, much faster.
#3 The DDU community of GA4 experts
In the DDU community, Jeff Sauer and our team of experts and members help solve all technical questions and issues with GA4. Can you please add a link here, Logan?
On behalf of the Data Driven U team, I would like to thank you for being here. The one thing you need to remember from this article is that if GA is not working, there is always a solution.