Google Universal Analytics (UA) has been the standard for collecting website data since Google acquired it in 2005. Much has changed since then, and it’s time for the next generation of analytics tools to take over. Say hello to Google Analytics 4, otherwise known as GA4. On July 1, 2023, Google will turn UA off. Read on to learn what’s changing and what you should do now to prepare for the switch to GA4.
Goodbye, session data. Hello, events
Unlike its older sibling, who counted data based on website sessions, GA4 records data based on events. An event can be a page view, scroll depth (how far a visitor scrolled before abandoning), video views, or a form submission, to name a few.
GA4 has fewer built-in reports than UA, so you might need to build a few custom reports or export data to get the numbers you want to analyze. On the plus side, GA4 will offer new metrics centered around engagement that will allow you to analyze how long sessions lasted and what the user did on the page.
Get GA4 up and running— NOW
Even though GA4 will replace UA on July 1, 2023, please don’t wait until then to get it up and running. Why? When the switch happens, the current version of UA reporting will no longer be available. Everything will switch over to the new platform, and your historic website data from UA will be lost. That’s why we recommend setting up GA4 now and running it in parallel with UA for one year. This will allow you to collect data on both platforms and ensure your GA4 reporting is fine-tuned to your needs before UA is turned off. And it will give you a year’s worth of data in GA4. Google Tag Manager is the key to running UA and GA4 side by side. Tag Manager is a container for the various tags that collect data for the site. The Tag Manager code snippet is added to your website and records events for various actions. For example, it can be configured to fire GA4, UA, and LinkedIn tags simultaneously, sending data to all three of those platforms at the same time.
We recommend performing these steps during the month of July 2022:
- If you don’t already use it, set up Google Tag Manager for your website
- Add your site’s UA tag into the Tag Manager
- Create a GA4 property for your site and add it to the Tag Manager
- Review GA4’s built-in reports and create new custom reports for your site
That’s it! Your site is now running UA and GA4 in parallel. Watch your GA4 reports over time and adjust as needed. Need help setting this up? We can help—contact us today for a quick quote!
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