How to perform a website cookie audit

This article will show you a quick and easy way of auditing your website for cookies.

You’ll need Google Chrome – you can download it for free if you don’t have it already.

Now to find out what cookies your website uses.

How to audit your site for cookies

Step 1: switch on Chrome’s Developer Tools

How to switch on Google Chrome Developer Tools

Switching on Google Chrome Developer Tools

Step 2: open up the “cookie” resources view

How to view cookies in Google Chrome

Viewing website cookies using Google Chrome Developer Tools

Step 3: browse ALL of your website pages

Now navigate through your website, visiting each page.

As you go you’ll see the console in the bottom half of the screen fill up with cookie information. Take note as you go.

It’s important not to simply check your homepage, as there may be cookies being set by plugins that only run on certain pages.

You should also:

  • Login to WordPress (spot the additional cookies)
  • Leave a blog comment (you can always delete it later)
  • Close the Cookie Law Info tab (watch for a cookie called “viewed_cookie_policy”)
  • If you have one, view a [YouTube] video, as these features sometimes drop ‘third party’ cookies
  • If you have such a feature, click ‘like’, ‘tweet’, etc – these also leave cookies
There are plenty of other ways your site could leave cookies, this is by no means an exhaustive method. But it’s a start, and for most content-only websites this should be enough.

Cookie Information

Now that you know what cookies are being set, you’ll want to know what type of cookie they are and how long they are set for.

Cookie types are either session (stored only whilst you browse the site) or persistent (stored even after you have left – e.g. 1 year). Cookies that your own website sets are called first party cookies, and those set by other websites who run content on your website are known as third party cookies – for example Facebook sets cookies via your website if somebody ‘likes’ one of the posts on your site.

For example, the Cookie Law Info plugin sets a cookie to remember if the visitor has accepted/closed the cookie info bar. It sets a persistent cookie called ‘viewed_cookie_policy‘ for 365 days.

For more information on what cookies are being set, the following articles are recommended:

Summary

It’s by no means the only way and there are better ways, but this method is quick and easy and it should cover very nearly all if not all of the cookies your site uses.

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