a new chapter has begun in the realm of website analytics….
With the release of Google Analytics 4 (GA4), a new chapter has begun in the realm of website analytics. However, as with any major update, it raises questions and challenges for both seasoned analysts and newcomers alike.
If you’re here, it’s likely that you have questions about GA4 and want to understand its key features, benefits, and how it can empower your business. You’re in the right place. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll unravel the FAQs surrounding GA4 and provide you with the knowledge and tools to harness its full potential!.
Section 1 – background
In this section, we cover questions about what is GA4 and why the move has come about:
What is Google Analytics 4 (GA4)?
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is now officially the recommended property type of Google Analytics.
Google Analytics 4 is an analytics service that enables you to measure traffic and engagement across your websites and apps.
At its core, Google Analytics 4 is focused on providing more data throughout the entire lifecycle of the customer journey – providing more data after a customer has been acquired, including their level of engagement, monetization, and retention.
Google Analytics 4 has been designed with privacy at its core to provide a better experience for both webmasters and their users. It helps businesses meet evolving needs and user expectations, with more comprehensive and granular controls for data collection and usage.
So, why the move?
Google has said the main reason for the change is that UA is dated, and was not built to understand multi-platform journeys thoroughly.
The session-based data model is 15 years old – before devices like smartphones were widely used. User privacy was another big reason for the decision. Entire countries have banned Google Analytics (GA), including France who declared it “illegal” for breaching EU GDPR.
How does GA4 report on users?
GA4 has a slightly updated method of reporting on users from UA. It uses up to three different identifiers to unify a user’s activity.
- User ID – This is an optional, manually inputted ID. Using data you collect to identify users (most commonly an ID associated with a login) is the most accurate identifier. This feature was in UA too, but GA4 no longer segments these users into their own view, which is a significant upgrade of the usability of this dimension.
- Google Signals – This is data from users who are signed in to Google and have consented to share this information. When this data is available, GA4 will associate event data to the user’s Google account.
- Device-ID – If the above options are not available, a device ID will inherit its value from the client ID the same way UA does. It’s a randomly generated ID stored in a cookie on the user browser and sent with all analytics hits.
Section 2 – UA vs GA4
In this section, we cover questions about the difference between UA and GA4:
What are the differences between Universal Analytics and GA4?
GA4 is very different from Universal Analytics. UA was built around ‘sessions’ and ‘page views’, which viewed a user’s interactions within a given time frame (e.g. throughout the duration of a visit to your website).
GA4 uses a significantly different structure and data collection method based on ‘users’ and ‘events’. This processes each interaction as a standalone event, such as clicks on products, page scrolls, add-to-carts, form submissions, and transactions.
Universal Analytics tracks screen views in separate mobile-specific properties, whereas GA4 combines both web and app data in the same property. If you are tracking both web and app data in your GA4 property, be sure to take the additional app traffic into consideration when comparing pageview metrics between the two.
Other differences between the two include, the reporting interface, privacy changes, native BigQuery integration, and the use of machine and AI learning.
Can you run Universal Analytics and GA4 on the same website?
Use the GA4 Setup Assistant to create a new GA4 property that collects data in parallel with your existing Universal Analytics property. There are no changes to your Universal Analytics property, and it continues to collect data as always. You can access both properties via the property selector or Admin screen.
Additionally, by dual tagging you can keep your Universal Analytics implementation in place while you build out your Google Analytics 4 implementation.
Should you replace Universal Analytics and start using Google Analytics 4?
Google Analytics 4 is Google’s next-generation measurement solution, and will be replacing Universal Analytics.
Google’s Universal Analytics will stop collecting data on 1st July 2023. For six months after that date, you’ll still have access to historical data in UA. Then, that data will be gone. If you still rely on Universal Analytics, we recommend that you prepare to use Google Analytics 4 going forward.
After that, Google Analytics 4 will be the default platform. With the new version comes big changes to the data and metrics you’re used to.
What can you do during this large shift? Changes like this can cause a lot of stress for marketers and agencies, but they can also bring some blessings. With the right transition planning, you can find new opportunities in this change.
Can I merge my historic Universal Analytics data with GA4 data?
Unfortunately, this isn’t possible as the two have inherently different data models. The lack of integration compounds is one of the main reasons why you must set up your GA4 property and start gathering data which will be used when you need it.
We know your data is essential to you, and therefore we highly recommend that you export your historical reports during this time. This way you won’t lose any historical insights you will have gathered throughout the time you were using Universal Analytics.
How long will I be able to access Universal Analytics data after switching to GA4?
As previously mentioned, you can create a new GA4 property that collects data in parallel with your existing Universal Analytics property. There are no changes to your Universal Analytics property, and it continues to collect data as always. You can access both properties via the property selector or Admin screen.
In terms of access, Google’s Universal Analytics will stop collecting data on 1st July 2023. For six months after that date, you’ll still have access to historical data in UA. Then, that data will be gone.
Is Google Analytics 4 ready to be used?
It is still in Beta testing, however, the data that you record from now will be retained as soon as Google moves over its focus to GA4 only in July 2023.
Why should I switch to GA4?
Simply put, a move to GA4 is essential if you want to understand your website or applications’ online performance.
On July 1, 2023, Universal Analytics (also known as GA3) will stop processing new data.
Universal Analytics 360 properties will have an extra three months of data processing, ending on October 1, 2023.
After this date, Google Analytics 4 will be the tool used for website activity tracking.
When should I install GA4 on my site?
As soon as possible.
This will ensure that you have as much data as possible before the closedown of the UA Google Analytics that will take place in 2023.
There will be a short period after the closure date that historical data can still be viewed but, at present, they have announced that all historical data in UA will be lost after this. There has been an outcry about this loss of data in the SEO community, so it’s possible that Google will change its stance on this but its best to be prepared.
Will any of the most used or popular metrics or dimensions be changed?
Many of the features have remained but there are some key changes and new features that are being incorporated into GA4.
- ‘Pageview’ has now become ‘Views’ – A total number of app screens and/or web pages your users saw.
- ‘Sessions’ have now become ‘Session start’
- ‘Conversions’ are now recorded using ‘conversion events’ for each action that you want to count as a conversion. For example, if you specify that the “Form Submit” event is a conversion event, a conversion will be registered each time a user submits the form.
- ‘Active Users’ – Number of distinct users who visited your website or application (Primary user metric in GA4)
- ‘Event count’ – Every “hit” is an event and these will need to be set up as triggers. Marking these triggers as conversions will ensure they are added to conversion statistics.
Section 3 – Installation & Setup
Here are our top questions on Installing and setting up GA4
How complicated is GA4 installation and setup?
If you’re using Google Tag Manager (GTM), installation is relatively simple. However, setting up GA4 can increase in complexity.
GA4 is designed to natively track a number of on-site actions that require coding skills to track in Universal Analytics such as scrolling, downloads, and eventually, video views.
Yet, on-site conversion points such as contact forms, button clicks and purchases, still require manual work for GA4 to track them. If these conversion points result in a new page being loaded (i.e, a ‘Thank You’ page), then the tracking set-up is very simple. However, if the conversion points don’t generate a natively trackable event, then the tracking set-up can be complicated, requiring custom coding.
How long does it take to install and set up a GA4 property?
Installation with Google Tag Manager (GTM) including conversion points that generate natively trackable events, this will most likely take around 1-2 hours.
Conversion points and/or events that don’t generate a natively trackable event can require anywhere from 1 hours to 5 hours to set up.
Do I have to re-tag my entire website for GA4?
GA4 uses a different data model, so the method of collection is also slightly different. While Google Tag Manager offers native tags for GA4 configuration and GA4 events, these need rolling out across the entire site, so yes, you do have a bit of re-tagging work cut out for this migration.
Google provides a lot of support for this tag migration, especially the slightly more complex migration of eCommerce tracking. GA4 is the new data model, and it is here to stay. If you want to benefit from its advanced capabilities, you should invest time into setting it up properly. Try to avoid custom scripts that promise to automatically ‘translate’ your existing dataLayer, as they introduce risk and potential latency into your website.
How do you track leads through events & conversions in Google Analytics 4?
GA4 is an event-based analytics tool. Everything is an event now. Purchases, page views, etc. So if you want to configure conversions, you first must configure event tracking in Google Analytics. Then you will need to instruct GA4 that some events are more important than others.
Section 4 – Reporting
Looking to find out how the reporting and attribution work in GA4? Heres our top FAQs:
Where can I find the standard reporting I’m used to seeing in Universal Analytics?
In Google Analytics 4, Google has created a more customizable interface in comparison to Universal Analytics.
Therefore, GA4 doesn’t come with a standard report that loads once you have logged in. Alternatively, you will need to decide what information you would like to see and build a report to meet your needs.
You can do this within the reports section of the interface, which can be found on the left-hand side of the screen, below the home icon.
How Does Attribution Change with GA4 from UA?
Universal Analytics reports attributed the entire credit for the conversion to the last click. A direct visit is not considered a click, but for the avoidance of doubt, this attribution model was also called the last non-direct click model. Other attribution models were only available in the Model Comparison Tool in the Multi-Channel Funnels (MCF) reports section.
GA4 offers a wider availability of different attribution models, but it depends on the scope of the report – whether it is the user acquisition source, session source or event source.
In Universal Analytics, the source dimensions had session scope solely. The MCF reports made it possible to analyze the sources of all sessions on the conversion path. The three scopes of source dimension in GA4 (user, session, event) are the most important and fundamental changes in the attribution area.
AGENCY EXPERT SPOTLIGHT
We asked our PPC manager and SEO managers for their top GA4 tips for fellow marketing managers and the two
Integrate GA4 with Google Ads
AVIV – PPC Manager
Integrating GA4 with Google Ads can be achieved by following these 10 steps:
Step 1 – Make sure that you have ‘editor’ permission on the GA4 property which you wish to link to your Google Ads account.
Step 2 – Ensure that you have ‘admin’ access to the Google Ads account you wish to link to your GA4 property
Step 3 – Navigate to your Google Analytics 4 property
Step 4 – Scroll down and then click on ‘Admin’ (left hand side of the screen)
Step 5 – Click on ‘Google Ads Links’ under the ‘Property’ column
Step 6 – Click on the ‘Link’ button
Step 7 – Click on ‘Choose Google Ads Accounts’
Step 8 – Select the Google Ads account you wish to link to your GA4 property, then click ‘Confirm’
Step 9 – Click on the ‘Next’ button
Step 10 – Review all of your configuration settings and then click ‘Submit’
Integrate GA4 with Search Console
DANNY – SEO Manager
You can link a Search Console property to only one web data stream, whilst you can also link the same Search Console property to one Universal Analytics property. A GA4 property can have only one data stream linked to a Search Console property.
valuable GA4 insights
Thank you for exploring our GA4 FAQ blog and diving into the world of Google Analytics 4! We hope this resource has provided you with valuable insights and answers to your burning questions.
As technology continues to evolve, GA4 remains at the forefront of digital analytics, empowering businesses to gain a deeper understanding of their audience and make data-driven decisions. Remember, the transition from Universal Analytics to GA4 may seem overwhelming, but with the right knowledge and guidance, you’ll be able to harness the full potential of this powerful platform.
Whether you’re a seasoned analyst or just starting your journey, we encourage you to keep exploring, experimenting, and staying up-to-date with the latest advancements in GA4. The more you delve into its features and capabilities, the more you’ll uncover the untapped potential to transform your digital presence.
If you have any more questions or need further assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to our dedicated GA4 support team. We’re here to help you every step of the way.