Procedure: Maintaining the Agency Web Analytics Code on all Public HTML Pages

Brief Description

(see the full document below for details)

This procedure describes the required steps to ensure that EPA maintains quality Web traffic metrics for all content that is publicly accessible, in adherence to the OMB Digital Strategy. This procedure applies to all pubic Web pages on EPA servers, including dynamically generated Web pages. 

Web analytics tools provide essential services to Web content owners in all agency programs and regions such as measuring website traffic, identifying top audiences, improving search engine optimization (SEO), and analyzing the influence of social media sites.  Web analytics tools that rely on page tagging often provide the most robust capabilities for collecting and analyzing Web traffic metrics.  However, it is critical that the necessary Web analytics code is implemented and maintained on all public Web pages.  Removing the Web analytics code from a Web page results in the loss of Web traffic metrics for that Web page until the code is returned.  For this reason, program offices must be in compliance with this procedure at all times. 

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Definitions

  • Log File Analyzers: Log file analysis is the method of processing Web server logs using a Web analytics software designed for that purpose.  Since server logs record all server transactions, including activity from Web crawlers and bots, software is needed to filter out non-human activity. 
  • Page Tag: A page tag is a commonly used term in Web analytics that refers to a snippet of JavaScript code that is embedded on a Web page and executed when the page is loaded in a Web browser.
  • Page Tagging: Page tagging refers to the method of embedding snippets of Web analytics code (page tags) in the source code of a Web page.  When a Web page is loaded by a Web browser, visitor session data are sent to a third-party vendor for processing.
  • Tag Management: Tag management is a service provided by third-party vendors whereby the vendor hosts all an organization’s analytics page tags for easy maintenance via a user interface.  The page tags are activated by a single tag management script called a container tag, which is inserted in the source code of Web pages.

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Required Steps

EPA content owners, such as Editors in Chief (EICs) and Web application owners, are responsible for ensuring that all Web pages under their purview and responsibility include the agency Web analytics code at all times.  Ultimate responsibility for compliance with this procedure rests with the Senior Information Officer (SIO) of each program office, with Web Council representatives serving as liaisons in ensuring this procedure is disseminated to all EPA content owners.  Program offices must be in compliance with this procedure within three months of its signing and maintain compliance as new Web pages are developed.  Content owners must ensure that the agency Web analytics code is included on all new Web content, starting from the initial public release of that content.

Required Steps for Content in the Agency Web Content Management System (WebCMS)

Web pages published in the standard Drupal-based Web Content Management System (WebCMS) will automatically include the agency Web analytics code when the page is published.  No further action is needed by content owners.

Required Steps for Content Outside of the Agency Web Content Management System Using Standard EPA Templates:

  1. Review all Web pages, including Web applications, for which you are responsible to ensure that the EPA template version for each page includes a link to one of two core JavaScript (JS) files that house the agency Web analytics code:
  2. Insert the link to the appropriate core JS file into the source code for all Web pages not already in compliance.
  3. Contact the EPA’s Web Analytics Program at GoogleAnalytics1@epa.gov to ensure metrics are being collected for your content.
  4. Ensure that the link to the JS file containing the agency Web analytics code remains on your Web pages at all times.  If you need to remove the link to this JS file for any reason, contact the Web Analytics Program at GoogleAnalytics1@epa.gov for an alternative method of adding the agency Web analytics code to your Web pages.

Required Steps for Content with Custom and Outdated Templates

A tag management script is used to insert the agency Web analytics code onto Web pages using custom templates.  Web pages with outdated templates should be updated as soon as possible; however, the same tag management script used for Web pages with custom templates can be used to bring Web pages with outdated templates into compliance with this procedure until such time as their templates can be updated. 

  1. Contact the Web Analytics Program at GoogleAnalytics1@epa.gov for the tag management script and implementation instructions.
  2. Review all Web pages, including Web applications, for which you are responsible and ensure that the tag management script is included in the source code. 
  3. Insert the agency tag management script into the source code for all Web pages not already in compliance.
  4. Contact the EPA’s Web Analytics Program at GoogleAnalytics1@epa.gov to ensure metrics are being collected for your content.
  5. Ensure that the tag management script containing the agency Web analytics code remains on your Web pages at all times.  If you need to remove the tag management script for any reason, contact the Web Analytics Program at GoogleAnalytics1@epa.gov for an alternative method of adding the agency Web analytics code to your Web pages.

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Rationale

OMB Digital Strategy Milestone 8.2 requires federal agencies to report Web traffic metrics for all public websites, and GSA recommends a page tagging solution to satisfy this requirement.  Therefore, it is critical that the appropriate code is implemented on all public websites and maintained at all times. 

Page tagging Web analytics solutions provide a host of capabilities, including custom segmentation and ad hoc reports through a user interface.  However, unlike log file analyzers that process Web server logs, page tagging tools require JavaScript code to be included in the source code of all Web pages for which metrics are collected.  Removing the Web analytics code from a Web page results in the loss of Web traffic metrics for that Web page until the code is returned.

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Exemptions

There are no exemptions to this procedure.

 

See Also

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Related Governance Documents

EPA

Related Policies

  • None

Related Procedures

  • None

Related Standards

  • None

Related Guidance

  • None

Non-EPA

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Full Metadata about this Procedure

Name Maintaining the Agency Web Analytics Code on all Public HTML Pages Procedure

Type Procedure
Required or Recommended Required 
Effective date June 12, 2013
Date approved June 12, 2013
Category 
Web Council review by June 2016 (or earlier if deemed necessary by the Web Council) 
Governing Policy Web Governance and Management (PDF) Intranet(5 pp, 339K, About PDF)

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