Google has announced their web analytics suite, Universal Analytics will be replaced by Google Analytics 4 or GA4 from July 1, 2023. Different from the last version that only focuses on website data, GA4 considers tracking and integrating web and app data into one Analytics account. Google has also changed its data architecture and methods of collection to depict the current changes in the usage of technology by customers.

So, the question is whether you should upgrade to Google Analytics 4 and when? This is the reason why we are here to help you explore more about GA4 more and what to do after switching to Google Analytics’ new upgrade.

Let us start with knowing what Google Analytics 4 is.

What is Google Analytics 4?

What is Google Analytics 4

Google Analytics 4, also known as App+Web is the new version of the web analytics platform which will replace the former one, Universal Analytics (UA). GA4 was created by Google with AI-driven technologies to meet the business’s evolving security needs and trends. Some of the major changes by GA4 include-

  • Event-based tracking

UA platform follows the audience by looking at the device sessions that sometimes resulted in data loss and missed opportunities when shifting to a new device. GA4 uses an event-based model to track the behavior of the user. It is easy to measure users along the overall customer journey using unique Google signals and user Ids.

  • Data Collection

The Omnichannel e-commerce platform allows GA4 to collect data from websites and apps to let the business notice customer journey and user lifecycles across various platforms.

  • Reporting

Explorations have been introduced by GA4 that allow you to access analytical techniques and data that are not available in UA’s reports. This feature will give you more in-depth insight into your business data to answer complex issues.

  • Machine Learning

GA4 uses machine learning technologies to fill data gaps. There are predictive analytics finding trends in user behavior letting you deliver more good insights and create the desired forecasts.

With all this about GA4, we will learn how Google Analytics 4 is faring against its predecessor.

Universal Analytics vs. Google Analytics 4

Universal Analytics vs Google Analytics 4

Google Analytics 4 differentiates from Universal Analytics in terms of user interface, navigation, data architecture, and terminology. An essential difference is the data modeling change.

Universal Analytics only tracks independent web sessions, while Google Analytics 4 tracks data across App Web offering a broad perspective of the user’s data. But, with this, there are some problems also that the GA4 update has to address which are listed below-

1. Cookies Loss

The GA4 update includes the best data privacy laws, rather than relying on first and third-party cookies to track data. GA4 uses machine learning techniques to fill data gaps and offer predictive metrics like churn probability, revenue prediction, and purchase probability.

2. Compatibility

Lack of compatibility with other tools is one of the main problems of the GA4 upgrade. This is because Google is offering API documentation only in beat at this moment. Some business owners shifted to GA4 to conduct tracking with third-party solutions.

3. Retention of the data

Unlike the previous version UA, GA4 stores data for 14 months. It also does not carry any historical data from UA. It starts tracking data once you have updated it. Also, you will not lose your previous data until it goes away on July 1, 2023.

And, when you upgrade to Google Analytics 4, we suggest you create a new property to access data from your current UA.

The New Google Analytics 4 Features

The New Google Analytics 4 Features

The GA4 upgrade by Google will allow you to record around 500 events and introduce some of the top features such as-

1. Enhanced Measurement

It helps you track optional events. For example-

  • Site search
  • Video engagement
  • Outbound clicks
  • File downloads

2. Automatic Events  

These are important and cannot be disabled. All reports by GA4 include them. For example-

  • Page view
  • First Visit
  • Session start
  • User Engagement

There are two more events which are added below- 

3. Recommended Events

These are events or parameters that Google thinks users might get help from. These types of events apply to all e-commerce stores, properties, and games.

4. Custom Events

If you think that there is any event lacking after considering the three options above, you can create your customized event. Here, we will not be explaining how to do it, but if you want to learn more, then contacting the developers from the best digital marketing company in Bangalore can be helpful.

Switching to event-based tracking by GA4, Google’s approach to e-commerce reporting has also changed which can be seen by schema changes and a necessity for more data layers to monitor transactions.

How to Move to Google Analytics 4?

How to Move to Google Analytics 4

Like every new tool introduced in the market, GA4 cannot be easy to use when you try it for the first time, but you will get to know it after its continuous usage. Google will allow you to test GA4 with a UA account as there is no better time to prepare for GA4 than now before Universal Analytics is taken away.

Use Google’s Setup Assistant to update to Google Analytics 4. Here is a step-by-step guide to starting with the process.

Step 1- From your Google Analytics account, switch to the admin area. Click on a gear-shaped icon on the left corner of the screen. From there, choose Property, then GA4 Setup Assistant. You will see two columns in the admin area.

Step 2- You will move to a GA4 Property Setup Assistant Page where there are two options-

  • Create a new GA4 property.
  • Connect with an existing property.

Step 3- Here, we are considering that there is no existing GA4 property, so click on the Get Started button in blue color. Select the Create Property button.

Step 4- After the new GA4 property is created, the setup assistant will inform you that the setup is done. Click on the See Your GA4 Property button to check the GA4 dashboard.

Step 5-Confirmn that you have shifted to GA4 from UA by checking the admin area. There should be two columns, rather than three.

The Changes after Upgrading to Google Analytics 4

When you finish setting up GA4, the existing reports will be the same as UA because the upgrade has created a new property. You will get UA and GA4 properties running parallel.  Here are some essential things you can perform after moving to GA4.

  • Increase the data retention time to 14 months as GA4’s default retention period is around two months.
  • Filter internal traffic easily to make more correct data measurements.
  • Using site linking, also known as cross-domain measurement, allows you to see sessions from two websites to measure the user journey accurately.

Final Words

Google Analytics 4 was introduced by Google as the latest and most popular version of an analytics platform that reflects the changes in how we interact with a business. However, there are mixed reviews, it is good to upgrade to Google Analytics 4. The platform offers AI-driven insights, data control, user privacy, and cross-platform tracking.

It is easy to shift to GA4, and it is the right time to start now as Universal Analytics will completely go away in July 2023. So, if you are ready to switch to Google Analytics 4 upgrade, Contact the best SEO company in Bangalore for consultation.

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