GA4 is the newest Google Analytics version that replaces the GA3 or Universal Analytics (UA) property type. Whether you like this update or not, GA4 is coming, and as of July 1, 2023, you will have to migrate over to Google’s next-gen analytics software.
There are a few main differences between Universal Analytics and GA4. Whereas with UA, users were tracked via sessions and pageviews, GA4 tracks events and parameters. GA4 tracks all events that a user completes, so they can more accurately represent what users are doing on your site. UA was more focused on users being on your site and less on the events they took while there. GA4 automatically tracks certain events, and you can easily create custom events to capture anything the default events might miss.
Another main difference is the reporting. GA4 only provides you with high-level reports but allows you to create customized reports to meet your needs with a variety of dimensions and metrics. Unlike UA, this will enable you to create the reports you need rather than settling for pre-built ones that you can only customize slightly.
The final significant difference is the way you set them up. If you have set up a Universal Analytics account, you would see a property and a view, whereas GA4 tracks a single property across apps and website data. While with UA, you had to install tracking codes separately for your site, apps, etc. GA4 allows you to install one tracking code across your various properties and gather user data across all streams. Your tracking code which used to be UA-XXXXXX-X now looks something like this: G-XXXXXXX.
Why you should switch now
As we mentioned earlier, GA4 is the future of Google Analytics, and as of July 1, 2023, Google is doing away with Universal Analytics entirely.
Similar to Universal Analytics, GA4 does not backtrack. While this is unfortunate, the sooner you install GA4, the sooner you will begin collecting user data. Since Google Analytics won’t import past data from UA properties, we recommend implementing GA4 as quickly as possible to have more data at your disposal.
How to upgrade to GA4
If you are using UA now and are interested in upgrading, Google has made it easy!
- Navigate to google.com/analytics and under Admin, go to your property. Under your property, the first option will be “GA4 Setup Assistant.”
- Under “I want to create a new Google Analytics 4 property,” click “Get Started.” (If your Universal Analytics is installed with gtag.js, you can select “Enable data collection using your existing tags.”)
- If not, in the pop-up window, click “Create Property.”
- Navigate to “Property Settings” and find your Property ID in the top right corner.
- You can install the tag directly on your site or utilize Google Tag Manager. We find it easiest to use Google Tag Manager to consolidate all your tags and triggers.
- If you already have GTM installed on your site, you can create a GA4 Configuration Tag. If you need to install GTM on your site, navigate to https://tagmanager.google.com/, click Create Account in the top right corner, and follow the prompts on the screen. You’ll then follow the installation instructions, installing the code snippets in the header and body of your site code.
- Now, in GTM, navigate to your workspace.
- Click “Add a new tag” on the top left.
- In the pop-up window, name your tag “GA4” and click “Tag Configuration.”
- Select Google Analytics: GA4 Configuration from the menu, and under “Measurement ID,” insert your Property ID.
- Under Triggering, select All Pages. This will track events and parameters on every page within your domain.
- Save your tag and click Submit in the top right corner.
- To check that your tag is installed correctly, click Preview, insert your website’s URL, and click around your site. Your firing tags will appear for each page you visit and each interaction you have on your site.
- Ensure that the GA4 tag is firing on your site.
- You’re all set for the future of Google Analytics!
We understand change can be challenging, but GA4 is here, and Google is forcing your hand. It’s a good idea to learn as much as possible about the ins and outs of GA4 so you can outperform your competition. We recommend this in-depth explanation of GA4 for further reading.
GA4 allows you to track what users are doing on your site more accurately, makes conversion tracking much easier, and dramatically improves reporting. While it won’t give you all of this data right off the bat, implementing GA4 as early as possible will ensure that you take advantage of data sooner than your competition.
Hopefully, this was helpful, and you’re all set up in GA4!