Verified Data Logo

Note, this post relates to version 1 of Verified Data. Please refer to Version 2 by using the FAQ page.

Knowing your error pages (404/410 – missing pages) and being able to separate these from regular pageviews is a quick win for fixing website usability issues – as few visitors stay around when errors are displayed! Verified Data conducts a number of checks for missing pages that are summarised as two audit items for error page tracking:

Check 1 determines if there is any tracking taking place at all on your error templates. That is, if the error page returns a status of 404 (or 410), AND if the correct tracking code deployed i.e. using the same UA-ID number as for the Google Analytics property being audited. If those two criteria are met, this test passes green.

Check 2 takes this test to the next level. That is, it determines if error pages can be differentiated from regular pageviews. For example, if the following test error pages:


Are these reported in Google Analytics as 3 pageviews for the same page (e.g. with page URL = “/404/”; page title “404 Not Found”), or can they be differentiated? If they are the same, all you have is an error counter. There is very little value in such a report as no troubleshooting can be done without the original URL to identify what triggered the 404/410 status in the first place.

How Verified Data Tests Error Pages

First, a random URL is tested on the site e.g. If the status returned is 404 or 410, Verified Data checks both the URL and its page <title> for signs of an “error_label”. An error_label is anything that allows the the page to be identified as an error page, rather than a valid pageview in your Google Analytics reports.

An error_label can be text such as:

404, error, no match, not found, missing, oops etc.

And multiple languages supported (any language!):

A Google translate match is also conducted for all error labels.

If any error_labels are found in the URL or page title, Check 2 passes green. Congratulations, it is possible to identify your error pages! Otherwise the test fails red.

The test is then repeated using a different error page URL. This test check is compared with the first – essentially the results should NOT be identical. If they are, the Check 2 will be set as a fail red. It means the same error template is being used for ALL error pages… Meaning you cannot differentiate your error pages!

Example – both tests producing the same URL and page title combination. This will fail Check 2 red:

URL = “/404/”
Page title = “404 Not Found”

What you should be tracking is something like:

URL = “/404/”
Page title = “page */test_1* 404 Not Found”

The inclusion of the page URI means this can now be differentiated from other error pages and Check 2 will pass green.

Subdirectory Tests

In fact Verified Data checks for consistency across your entire site by conducting its error checks across multiple subdirectories. For example:

In this way, any subdirectory that may be using a different platform or CMS to deliver content, is also checked to verify error pages are being tracked properly in Google Analytics – and therefore used to help improve your site’s UX.