GA4: The New Google Analytics Platform
It’s been silently creeping up on us since its initial announcement in 2020, but Google has officially given GA4 a move-in date.
As an agency we work with a wide range of clients from ecommerce, lead gen, B2C and B2B – using GA as a crucial part of reporting and analysis. From migrations to monitoring performance, the importance of understanding our data is key to creating strategies that empower our decisions and get results. With that in mind, taking a step away from Google Analytics is a big step!
What is GA4?
GA4 is the latest version of Google’s analytics platform, previously known as Universal Analytics, which combines web and app data in one account – lovingly named the beta App + Web.
The new interface uses enhanced measurement and automatic tracking, making it easier for businesses to monitor data and be more specific with tracking without additional coding.
What’s the difference between GA4 and Google Analytics?
The main difference between GA4 and Universal Analytics (aside from a different reporting interface) is how data is measured and events are tracked.
The new system centres around events and user journey in order to help us monitor any and all interactions as an event (where previously these would just be classed as a single page view, social interaction, etc., as goals).
Next-level analytics will also include more accurate reporting and advanced analysis with cross-platform insights that existing GA doesn’t currently have.
Do I need GA4 and will it impact me?
If you want to continue using analytics data in the next year then yes, you need GA4!
If you have an existing UA (universal analytics) property then you can upgrade to GA4 whether you have a physical app or not. Once GA4 officially rolls out next year, only historical data will only be available and new hits won’t count. Therefore, if you want to continue collecting data and reporting into next year then we recommend taking action and making the move.
When to start collecting data ahead of GA4 cross-over
Google announced that the full, official move to GA4 will happen on July 1st 2023 – therefore all existing Universal Analytics properties will stop processing data on this exact date. After this, you’ll only be able to see historical reports for around six months.
To make sure you don’t lose valuable data, make the move to GA4 by at least 1st July 2022. Although you can still get data up to 2023, you don’t want to lose YoY data and statistics, so it’s the safest and best way to upgrade sooner rather than later.
How to set up GA4 for my business
You should be able to see if you have GA4 when clicking through to your property in GA, if you see ‘App + Web’ as well as 360 (UA).
If you don’t see this, take these steps to set up your GA4 property.
- Access your current GA account, and direct over to Admin (on the lower left).
- Select your account from the Account column (if you only have one, this will be the only option).
- Select the Universal Analytics property that currently collects data for your website under Property, and click GA4 Setup Assistant.
- Click Get started in I want to create a new Google Analytics 4 property.
- If your site uses the gtag.js, tag, you have the option to Enable data collection using your existing tags.
- (If your website doesn’t support gtag.js tags or if you use Google Tag Manager, you will have to implement the tag yourself)
- Click Create Property – and follow instructions!
As daunting as GA4 seems after getting to grips with UA for the past 10 years, the new platform will provide additional resources to help create reporting and further increase our advanced strategies in marketing based on real-time data.
If you are feeling nervous about the GA4 update or want expert assistance with your migration, get in touch with our SEO team.
Rebecca Jackson, 14/04/2022