Google Analytics 4 was released this year as a replacement for Universal Analytics. Users have the option of continuing to use the original analytics features or upgrading to the newer version. After Universal Analytics is decommissioned in 2023, Google will upgrade all users to Google Analytics 4.
If you’re a Google Analytics user who hasn’t upgraded yet, you should familiarise yourself with the new features and improvements available in Analytics 4. Fortunately, you can learn about the new service and implement the switch well in advance of Universal Analytics’s demise.
Here, we’ll discuss the new features and improvements in Google Analytics 4 compared to its predecessors. Furthermore, we will go over some helpful hints for making the most of Google Analytics 4 and show you how to upgrade your account. Start doing it!
How Is Universal Analytics Developing?
Universal Analytics has been the gold standard for tracking a website’s success and user interaction for more than a decade. Also, it’s been a great resource for gauging the efficacy of various keyword approaches.
The problem is that the platform was built back when desktop computers were the primary means of accessing the web. Universal Analytics can track data from mobile apps, but it doesn’t provide a single view of property performance across all media.
Customers now anticipate being able to explore products on a brand’s website and then make a purchase using the brand’s app whenever and wherever they see fit. Understanding these multi-channel customer journeys is essential for meeting future demands and exceeding consumer expectations.
Google Analytics 4 was developed to address this issue and raise the bar for privacy in data collection. Since its 2019 debut, it has coexisted with Universal Analytics, giving consumers the option between the two platforms.
Now, Google has announced that it would stop supporting Universal Analytics as of July 1, 2023. The date will mark the end of data collection for all existing analytics assets. With Universal Analytics 360, you have until October 1, 2023 to gather data before the service is discontinued.
You’ll have plenty of time to make the switch to Google Analytics 4 after that. First, let’s go through the updates to the service, and then we’ll get into the specifics of how to do it.
Overview of Google Analytics 4
When it comes to analytics, mobile data has always taken a back seat to desktop measurements. With Google Analytics 4, you can consolidate different kinds of properties into unified user experiences.
Google Analytics 4 allows you to see data about how people interact with your sites and applications. Algorithms based on machine learning may also provide light on how to best improve upon these characteristics.
Also noteworthy is the fact that Google Analytics 4 is not cookie-centric. It provides a more secure environment for users’ personal data.
Changes to Google Analytics’ data collection methods may, in part, be attributed to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The General Data Protection Regulation has had far-reaching effects on the ways in which online services may lawfully acquire and keep user information.
Google Analytics 4 eliminates the need to track user sessions in order to compile data. The platform can identify and quantify a wide range of “events” involving human contact, such as:
- Page views
- Outbound clicks
- In-site searches
- Video engagement metrics
- File downloads
Prior to the release of Google Analytics, it was necessary to manually configure complicated events in order to measure a variety of metrics. The platform can now automatically assign tags to the occurrences, providing you with extra information from the get-go.
The improved funnel reporting and cross-platform analysis are welcome additions to Google Analytics 4. By using the system, you may track user entry and exit points throughout the customer journey. You may also learn about user behaviour in the “middle of the funnel” using this service.
Google Analytics 4 might look and feel quite different from Universal Analytics at first sight. However, a Google Analytics 4 property may be set up and configured with little effort. Thankfully, there’s an orientation program built into the platform.
How to Move from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4
Though we’re discussing making the switch from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4, you may continue to utilise both systems concurrently for the time being. Until Universal Analytics is no longer supported after 2023, cookies may continue to be used for data collection. Simultaneously, Analytics 4 allows you to start gathering data from occurrences.
Step 1: Create a Google Analytics 4 Property
Make sure you aren’t already using Google Analytics 4 before proceeding. In all likelihood, Google Analytics 4 is already installed on any new sites that went live after October 14, 2020. Log in to Google Analytics and review your list of properties to double-check.
Analytics IDs for Universal Analytics-enabled properties will begin with the letters “UA.” If a site is utilising Google Analytics 4, it will be labeled with the G4A icon.
You may begin by accessing the ADMIN section of a Universal Analytics-enabled property that you’ve chosen. To use the G4A Setup Assistant, choose that option from the drop-down menu next to the property name.
I want to set up a new Google Analytics 4 property; click the Get Started button to continue.
When you click that link, Google Analytics will provide you with a quick overview of the configuration process. By default, the platform will create a new property for you without wiping away any existing Universal Analytics settings. Data from the Universal Analytics property will be replicated, and “improved measures” will be activated instantly. This enables early measurement of complicated events:
To begin, please choose the Create property option. When the property is ready, you’ll be brought back to the GA4 Setup Assistant menu.
Step 2: Configure Your Google Analytics 4 Property
Now, to adjust your G4A property’s settings, choose See your G4A property.
Correctly launching Google Analytics 4 requires setting up one or more data streams.
When you create a new property in Google Analytics 4, the platform will take you to the Setup Assistant. Find the “Collection” area and click the “Tag” installation button:
By selecting Tag Installation, “data streams” may be tailored to your specific needs. Streams of data from many websites and applications may be added to any Google Analytics property. Typically, if you use applications, you’ll have three streams ready and waiting: one for the web, one for iOS, and one for Android.
You’ll be asked to choose the kind of stream you’d want to create after clicking the Add stream button on the platform. When adding a website, Google Analytics will want you to provide the website’s URL, name, and the metrics you wish to monitor.
In order for Google Analytics to begin collecting data from your site, you’ll first need to authenticate ownership. The dashboard will allow you to monitor all of this data in the same way that Universal Analytics does.
To try out Google Analytics 4 before committing to a new property setup, you may create a demo account. Keep in mind, too, that you can choose between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 properties right there in your account settings.
The differences between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 will become apparent once you begin configuring custom insights.
Common Issues With Google Analytics 4
Users mention certain typical challenges when initially utilising the “new” platform, Google Analytics 4, despite the ease of the transfer. Let’s discuss how to deal with some of these problems.
Configuring Google Analytics 4 Takes Time
When you setup Google Analytics version 4, it will immediately begin recording many different sorts of events on your website. Yet, the platform’s true potential becomes apparent when one takes the time to configure unique events and reports.
You’re losing out on Google Analytics’s most potent feature (custom event tracking) if you haven’t set it up. Using custom events, you may track KPIs that are most important to you without modifying your website’s code.
Reports in Google Analytics Are Limited
The default set of reports in Google Analytics 4 isn’t great. You may get more in-depth consumer behaviour insights by setting up the platform to record and display data in the ways that best suit your needs.
Depending on the kind of events you choose to monitor, Google Analytics 4 makes this procedure reasonably easy. However, it may take some time for the updated figures to appear on your dashboard once you’ve configured custom reports. This is because the reporting capabilities of Analytics 4 have been enhanced via the use of machine learning.
There Are Differences in Reports Between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4
One of the most frequent gripes of those switching to Google Analytics 4 is that the data on the dashboard may not reflect what you’re seeing in Universal Analytics. Due to differences in methodology, the two services provide divergent results. Analytics 4 keeps track of events, whereas Universal Analytics uses cookie and session data.
For the time being, you may use data from either service to make judgments. But as the end of life for Universal Analytics approaches, you’ll have to adapt to the Analytics 4 methodology.
Google Analytics 4 Doesn’t Track Bounce Rate
Many people question the validity of the standard method used to calculate bounce rate. After upgrading to Google Analytics 4, the bounce rate metric is no longer used and “engagement” is now tracked.
Many people question the validity of the standard method used to calculate bounce rate. In version 4, Google Analytics no longer tracks bounce rate but instead tracks “engagement”:
What the Future Holds for Google Analytics
There were some hiccups with the upgrade to Google Analytics 4. The new platform has met with a lacklustre response from its users. Even if you want to utilise Universal Analytics for the time being, it is imperative that you begin familiarising yourself with Google Analytics 4.
Within the next calendar year, Universal Analytics will halt its data collection efforts. By that time, you should have a Google Analytics 4 property up and running. To maximise the benefits of Google Analytics 4, it is also important to set up property-specific tracking and reporting.
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