Google Analytics is loved by many, hated by plenty. Its newest iteration, Google Analytics 4 (GA4), won’t change that so soon. Albeit being the most significant change to Google Analytics, the sheer amount of updates worries even seasoned marketers, who are now concerned about the effects GA4 could have on their jobs. But what is all the fuss about? When we first began our research for this article, no one seemed to have a clear answer. We realised that there are already a bunch of lengthy GA4 guides out there but have found them to leave us with more questions than answers. We decided to speak to our SEO experts about the recent developments and what they make of them to get to the bottom of our three biggest questions:
- What has changed with the transition to GA4?
- How do you make a successful switch to GA4?
- How to use GA4 reports to your advantage?
With no time to waste, we’re going to dive right in!What is Google Analytics 4? GA4 is an analytics service that enables you to measure KPIs such as web traffic and user engagement across your websites and apps. Designed to make it easier to track both mobile and web properties under one roof, GA4 is the next Generation of Google Analytics and was first announced in October 2020 under the name "App + Web".
- To give you time to make the switch, its predecessor Universal Analytics will continue to process data until July 1, 2023.
- From July 1, 2023, Universal Analytics properties will no longer process data.
- If you set up Google Analytics for your website after October 14, 2020, you might already have created a GA4 property.
How to tell the difference between Universal Analytics and GA4:
Google Analytics 4
According to Google, GA4 has several key advantages over Universal Analytics:
- Intelligent machine learning allows you to track customer journeys across platforms and devices more accurately.
- More seamless integration with Google Ads creates more powerful audiences, optimises campaign performance and drives a greater ROI.
- Privacy-focused user tracking and data collection help you comply with the latest privacy and data collection regulations.
What Has Changed with GA4?
If you thought you had Google Analytics all figured out, think again! With GA4, data structure and collection are now built around users and events – not sessions, as you’d be used to from working with Universal Analytics.Moving the focus to events is supposed to benefit marketers and make cross-platform analysis easier by improving the ability to track and analyse user behaviour. GA4 also changes how data is presented. Google Analytics used to split data into multiple tabs per reporting section. Now, GA4 combines all this data into one overview, making it easier to spot trends and anomalies. Plus, the old dashboard is now replaced by a customisable homepage. See? It’s not all that bad!
Make a Successful Switch to Google Analytics 4
Now that the day has come for Google Analytics 4 to replace Universal Analytics, it’s time for us to look at making this transition as smooth as possible!
How to set up new Google Analytics 4 property for your website
Note: Before you begin, ensure that you have an Editor role on the Google Analytics account in question.
Is this your first time using Google Analytics?
- Visit the Google Admin page and click “Create Account” in the Account column.
- Choose an account name. We suggest naming it after your business.
- Configure the data-sharing settings. These control which data you share with Google using an Analytics data collection method. You can always change these settings later on.
- Click “Next” to add the first property to your new Google Analytics account.
- Select your industry category and business size.
- Click “Create” and accept the Terms of Service and the Data Processing Amendment.
Do you have an existing Universal Google Analytics account?
- In Google Analytics, click “Admin” and navigate to the “Account column.” There, click on “GA4 Setup Assistant”. It is the first option in the “Property” column.
- Click “Get started” under “I want to create a new Google Analytics 4 property”.
- When you click GA4 Setup Assistant, you create a Google Analytics 4 property without historical data. This won’t affect your original property at all.
- We recommend copying basic settings from your Universal Analytics property.
- Activate enhanced measurement to measure user behaviour and content success, not just page views.
- You have successfully connected your properties and can now explore and optimise your new GA4 property.
- If you have an existing Universal Analytics property, it won’t be affected and will continue to collect data until July 1, 2023. You can access it via the Admin screen.
Using GA4 Reports To Your Advantage
The newest version of Google Analytics comes with a range of smart reporting templates that will help you answer questions such as: When did a certain user last purchase from your website or app? And what traffic sources result in the highest lifetime value?But, GA4 also offers a collection of advanced analysis techniques you can use to create custom reports with a detailed breakdown of your customer journey.GA4 now also provides you with a range of predictive capabilities. These metrics will help you identify opportunities such as users and actions that are likely to result in conversions. These predictive metrics currently include purchase probability, churn probability and revenue prediction. As you can see, GA4, however intimidating it may be at first glance, offers a range of clear benefits to your business. The newest iteration of Google Analytics promises to support your marketing initiatives in ways no other analytics tool ever has. It’s now in your hands to make the most of it and use GA4 to its fullest potential. So what do you think? How do you feel about the new Google Analytics, now that you know how to make a smooth transition and understand how your organisation can benefit? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to leave a comment below or contact us directly to start a conversation with our SEO and SEM experts!