Google Analytics has become a ubiquitous tool for measuring website traffic, tracking user behaviour, and optimising marketing efforts. As the world of digital marketing continues to evolve, so does Google Analytics. The latest iteration of this powerful tool is GA4, which offers a host of new features and capabilities that can help businesses gain deeper insights into their website users. In this article, we'll take a deep dive into GA4, what GA4 is, what is different from universal analytics, and most importantly how to migrate your data from universal analytics to GA4 and more. If you're a digital marketer looking to stay ahead of the curve, understanding GA4 is essential. So buckle up, and get ready for a journey into the world of advanced analytics, and learn how GA4 can take your marketing strategy to new heights.
What is Google Analytics 4?
Google Analytics 4 (GA4), previously known as "App + Web", is the latest version of Google Analytics launched by Google. It is a significant departure from the previous version, Universal Analytics (UA), and is designed to give marketers more useful insights into how users are interacting with their websites or apps.
One of the key differences between GA4 and UA is the approach to data collection. While UA is primarily session-based, GA4 uses an event-based data model. This means that every interaction on a website or app, from page views to button clicks, is recorded as an individual event. This event-based model allows for more granular data collection and can provide a more detailed understanding of user behaviour.
GA4 also introduces new features and improvements over UA. For instance, it has a more robust integration with Google Ads, allowing for better tracking of ad conversions and more effective ad targeting. It also incorporates machine learning to automatically identify trends in your data and provide predictive metrics, such as the potential revenue you could earn from a particular group of customers.
In terms of data privacy, GA4 is designed to adapt to a future with or without cookies or identifiers. It uses machine learning to fill in the gaps where data may be incomplete. This ensures that even as privacy standards evolve, marketers can still get valuable insights from their analytics.
As of 1st July 2023, Google is encouraging all users to move from Universal Analytics to GA4. This is because Universal Analytics will eventually stop collecting data, and new features and improvements will only be made available in GA4. Therefore, if you're still using a UA property, you must create a new GA4 property and start setting up your reports. Don't worry, we will guide you on how you can do it.
Understanding the difference between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the newest version of Google Analytics, and it represents a significant shift in how data is collected and processed compared to the previous version, Universal Analytics (UA). This new Google Analytics platform is designed to provide more comprehensive and insightful analytics data, making it a valuable tool for businesses and marketers.
Data Model: UA uses a session-based data model, while GA4 uses an event-based data model. This allows GA4 to provide more granular data on user interactions.
Cross-Platform Tracking: GA4 allows for tracking of users across platforms and devices, providing a more complete picture of the user journey.
Reporting Features: GA4 offers advanced reporting features, including "engaged sessions," a new metric that provides a more meaningful measure of user engagement.
Integration of Web and App Data: In GA4, you can have a single property for both your website and mobile app, allowing for combined or separate reports for web and app data.
Predictive Analytics: GA4 uses machine learning to predict future actions users may take, helping businesses to proactively engage with their customers.
Migration: Google is encouraging all users to migrate from UA to GA4 using the GA4 Setup Assistant. It's recommended to run both UA and GA4 properties side by side until UA accounts stop collecting data.
Future-Proof: GA4 is designed for the future, with a focus on privacy and cross-platform tracking, making it a valuable tool for any business.
Remember, GA4 is a new generation of analytics that offers more advanced features and a more comprehensive view of user interactions. It's designed for the future, with a focus on privacy and cross-platform tracking, making it a valuable tool for any business.
Steps to migrate from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4
Now that you're prepared, it's time to start the migration process. Here are the steps that you'll need to follow:
Lets walk you through the necessary steps to ensure a seamless transition and prepare for the discontinuation of data collection in Universal Analytics. Additionally, we will highlight the key differences between GA4 and Universal Analytics, enabling you to make an informed decision for your organisation's analytics needs.
Creating a Google Analytics 4 Property:
To begin the migration process from Universal Analytics to GA4, it is important to create a new GA4 property and set up your reports. Follow the steps below:
1. Access the Admin Area:
Log in to Google Analytics and navigate to the admin area of your Universal Analytics property. You can identify it as a Universal Analytics property by the presence of three columns, with the tracking ID starting with "UA-" followed by a unique identifier.
2. Select the GA4 Setup Assistant:
Within the admin area, locate the GA4 setup assistant. Two options are available at the top: "Create a new Google Analytics 4 property" and "Link your Universal Analytics property to an existing Google Analytics 4 property." Choose the option to create a new GA4 property.
3. Enable Data Collection with a New Tag:
In the setup assistant, ensure that the option to enable data collection using the existing tag on your website is deselected. This prevents your new GA4 property from collecting data through the existing Google tag used for Universal Analytics. It is recommended to add GA4 to your website separately using the method outlined below.
4. Create and Continue with the GA4 Property:
Once the option to collect data using the existing tag is deselected, click on "Create and continue." This will provide you with the necessary details to install the Google tag on your website.
Installing the GA4 Tag:
There are several methods to install the GA4 tag on your website. Choose the one that best suits your organisation's needs:
Installing the Google Tag gtag.js: Directly install the dedicated Google tag gtag.js on your website.
Using a Plugin: If your website is built on platforms like WordPress, utilise plugins specifically designed for GA4 integration.
Built-in Integration: Some website platforms, such as Squarespace, offer built-in integration options for Google Analytics.
Google Tag Manager: Consider using Google Tag Manager for greater flexibility and the ability to collect additional data. The following steps will guide you through setting up GA4 using Google Tag Manager.
- In Google Tag Manager, click on Tags > New
- Enter a name for the tag at the top (e.g., “GA4 Configuration - example.com”).
- In the Tag Configuration box, select Google Analytics: GA4 Configuration.
- Configure your tag
By following these steps, you can initiate the migration process from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4. Creating a new GA4 property and setting up your reports is crucial to ensuring a seamless transition. In the next part of this blog series, we will provide detailed instructions on using Google Tag Manager to further enhance your GA4 setup and ensure the continuity of your analytics data.
Need help navigating Google Analytics 4 or leveraging it for SEO? Our team is ready to assist. Contact us today for expert guidance and start making the most of your data with GA4.
From Universal Analytics to GA4: What's Missing in the New Version?
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) represents a significant shift from Universal Analytics (UA), and with this shift, some familiar properties and features from UA have been deprecated or fundamentally changed in GA4. Here are some of the most notable ones:
Bounce Rate: In UA, bounce rate was a key metric used to measure the percentage of single-page sessions where the user left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page. In GA4, this metric has been replaced with 'Engaged Sessions', which measures the number of sessions that lasted longer than 10 seconds, or had a conversion event or two or more page views.
Sessions: In UA, a session was defined as a group of user interactions with your website that take place within a given time frame. In GA4, the concept of sessions still exists but is less prominent due to the event-based model of GA4. The focus has shifted towards events and user interactions.
Custom Dimensions & Metrics: In UA, you could create custom dimensions and metrics to collect data that Google Analytics doesn't automatically track. In GA4, these have been replaced with 'Custom Definitions' which provide similar functionality but with a different setup process.
Behaviour Flow Report: The Behaviour Flow report in UA visualised the path users took from one page or event to the next. This report doesn't exist in GA4. Instead, GA4 has the 'Path analysis' technique in the Analysis hub, which provides similar insights but with a different visualisation.
Audience Definitions: In UA, you could create audiences based on any combination of dimensions and metrics. In GA4, audience creation is more flexible and powerful, but it's also different, and some UA-based audiences may not have direct equivalents in GA4.
Content Grouping: In UA, Content Grouping let you group content into a logical structure that reflects how you think about your site or app, and then view and compare aggregated metrics by group name. GA4 does not currently support this feature.
While these changes may require some adjustment, it's important to note that GA4 introduces a range of new features and capabilities designed to provide more comprehensive and actionable insights. It's a significant evolution of Google's analytics platform, and while some familiar features may be missing or changed, GA4 offers new ways to understand and engage with your users.
Migrating from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 may seem daunting, but it's a critical step in staying ahead of the curve in digital marketing. With the enhanced reporting capabilities and privacy controls of GA4, you'll be able to get a more comprehensive view of your users' behaviour and make data-driven decisions that drive business growth. By following the steps and best practices outlined in this article, you can ensure a smooth and successful migration to GA4. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your migration today and take your website's tracking to the next level!