How to: Celebrate the End of the World by Debugging Your Google Analytics Code

By Casey Davenport | Dec 21, 2012
More Articles by Casey

Alright, I know this is what everyone wanted to read about on the last day of human existence, let me just start this blog post by saying, you’re welcome.   This post is an overview of how to use my Google Analytics debugging solution of choice – the GA Debugger for Chrome.

ga debugger means the end of broken analytics tracking

There are plenty of debugging methods out there, some of which are arguably better at pinpointing exact problems.  I prefer this one because it helps me isolate the problem rather than refreshing Analytics over and over saying to myself, “WHY??”. It might not always point you to a specific answer, but it will at least help you identify what the problem ISN’T so you have something more to say to your IT person than “heeelppp meeee”. If you would like to look at all the debuggers available, Google provides a nice inventory of debugger tools.

Step 1: Install the GA Debugger extension

Step 2: Turn the debugger on by clicking the extension icon


Step 3: Right click on the page you are on and select, “Inspect Element”

inspect element in chrome

Step 4: Select the Console

Step 5: Refresh the page you wish to debug . The console should load whether the Analytics tracking beacon successfully sent or not.  If you do not see the “tracking beacon sent!” message then you know there is an issue with the tracking code.  If it did, you can view the exact information sent back to Google and analyze what is not working.  Do you have the wrong profile set on this page?   The console will show you everything that is and isn’t being sent back to Google Analytics.


I have found the debugger especially helpful when debugging OnClick event tracking.  When you click the targeted object, the debugger will show you either what was returned to Google Analytics:

successful GA analytics event tracking

or what type of error was caused and the exact line of the source code the error occured on:

Well, that is my overview of the GA Debugger extension. If the world was around long enough for you to finish reading this, I would love to hear about your Analytics debugging experiences.  What tools have you used to debug your Analytics tracking code? Why do you prefer them over the others?  Let me know in the comments below or follow me on Twitter @CaseyDavenport.

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