Guide: How To Upgrade to Google Analytics 4

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Google Analytics is considered the most powerful and detailed digital analytics platform out there. It’s installed on at least 10 million websites, accounting for a market share of over 82%!

But things are changing. Most people will currently use Google Universal Analytics (UA) although, in July 2023, this is being switched off. To keep tracking your site’s data, your company will have to do a Google Analytics update to the new Google Analytics 4 or GA4.

Some businesses have already made the switch to the Google Analytics 4 platform ahead of this deadline and are benefiting from the new tools in this platform, and you can too!

In this article, we’ll go into detail about this new version of Google Analytics and explain how to set up Google Analytics 4. Read on to learn more!

What Is GA4?

GA4 Google Analytics is the next generation of digital analytic collection that can be set up to collect information on websites as well as app data. It helps businesses to understand the customer journey better as it focuses on events instead of session-based data. 

Why Is Google Shifting to GA4?

Not only does the GA4 upgrade come with a better understanding of your client’s journey, but there are also some other benefits. including:

  • Improvement of user engagement analysis
  • Improved user privacy and tracking features
  • Simplified Goals and Events Setup

What Is Different With GA4?

While there are a lot of similarities between the UA and GA4, the main difference is how it tracks users.

With UA most reports focus on the Total Users, which are shown as Users. GA4 differs by showing Active Users, this is also shown as Users. It’s a little confusing as the term Users is shown in both UA and GA4, but the difference is what the metric shows. 

To summarise, UA refers to the total users, and is based on sessions and pageviews, these are called ‘hits’. In GA4, Users refer to the active user so it tracks events and parameters which are referred to as ‘events’.

How to Update Google Analytics

Setting up Google Analytics GA4 is easy. We’ve included the stages of how to set up GA4 if you’re already using Universal Analytics, as well as if you have set it up from scratch. 

Setting up GA4 if You Already Have UA

If you already have a Universal Analytics property, then setting up GA4 is relatively straightforward. It works in parallel with your UA property.

Open your UA property then go to Admin > GA4 Setup Assistant and click the Get Started button, from there you’ll see a screen with lots of information about GA4, then click Create Property button.

If you had Google Tag Manager or gtag.js set up on your site, you’ll be able to import any tracking configurations you’d set up on your UA property straight over to GA4. However, if you are using an older implementation, like analytics.js, this function won’t work.

You might be feeling a bit anxious about losing your historical data from your existing UA property, don’t worry. Your historical data will be unaffected by GA4. It’s also worth knowing that GA4 will not be populated with any historical data. From this stance, think of UA and GA4 as two totally different entities. 

The Setup Assistant will do all the technical stuff for you. You’ll be able to click the button that says See your GA4 Property, which will jump straight to your new property. Although you’ll be able to see this straight away, don’t be alarmed if there’s no data. Remember we said that GA4 doesn’t pull historical data. Give GA4 a couple of weeks to start populating information. 

In the meantime, you can switch between UA and GA4 to keep on top of your business’s analytics.

Then, configure your GA4 property. There are a load of great features in GA4 to allow you to track specific data, however, these will need to be set up. 

There’s also a handy quick link option to get back to your UA property. Click on the Open connected property button to compare data from UA and GA4. 

Setting up GA4 From Scratch

If you’ve not used UA, then you’ll have to set up a new GA4 property from scratch. This is also an easy task, although you might want a developer to do the technical stuff

First, you’ll need a Google Analytics account. To do this, log into your Google account at analytics.google.com, and click the button that says Start measuring.

You’ll have to give your account a name, and call it something logical such as the website or business name as your account can host multiple properties.  Once you’ve done that, select the data sharing options you want to use and click Next.

After you’ve created a Google Analytics account, you’re ready to create your new GA4 property. Click on Admin and then + Create Property. Give your property a name (it can be the same as before) and then choose the time zone and currency most relevant to your business. If you’re not sure, then opt for where your server and clients are located. 

Add in any other business data, although this is optional, and then click Create.

Connect GA4 to Your Website

So you’ve set up your Analytics account, now you need to connect your website to the account to provide a data stream from your website to your GA4 property. You can do this with either the gtag.js or a Google Tag Manager

To set up this data stream, in your Analytics account, navigate to Admin, then Data Streams. Click Add stream button and select the data stream. GA4 can have multiple streams feeding to it. Enter your website URL and click Create stream.

Are You Ready for the Google Analytics Update?

Whether you’re just setting up a new GA4 account from scratch or getting your head around switching from UA, it’s essential that you get this Google Analytics update right to keep your data tracking consistent.

If you have any further questions about the differences between Universal Analytics and GA4, then get in touch with our knowledgeable team. We’re more than happy to help.

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