The Switch to Google Analytics 4 – What You Need to Know

You may have heard the rumblings of the new version of Google Analytics and the changes it poses to your marketing. Google Analytics 4 will soon replace Universal Analytics as Google phases out the older property type so it is important that you are your business are prepared for the change. If you haven’t heard of GA4 before, or are curious about what the switch to Google Analytics 4 could mean for your business, our guide is here to help.

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What is Google Analytics 4 or GA4?

Google Analytics 4, also known as GA4 is the new version of Google Analytics. This new phase of GA aims to work with the ever-changing digital landscape and adapt to the growing need for privacy with consumers as well as the massive rise in the use of apps. The new property type promises more insights into the customer journey across platforms and devices and seamless integrations with Google’s advertising platforms. Google Analytics 4 will be replacing the previous version of Google Analytics, Universal Analytics once it comes into place.


How is GA4 Different from Universal Analytics?

Whilst it may seem that there is always something new to learn when Google brings in any new changes, there are a few key differences in the new Google Analytics platform. The way that Google tracks and stores your data ready for reports is changing, as is the way that you access that information. This may mean that the key views and goals you are used to using on Google Analytics for things such as organic traffic, e-commerce conversions and more will need to be re-added to the new GA4 and the way you look for information updated.


Do I Have to Switch to GA4 from Universal Analytics?

Yes. Once the new Google Analytics comes into place, it will be the only way to track the information on your website on the Google Analytics platform. As Google announced in March, the old version of Google Analytics is currently in the process of being phased out and will no longer be available once the process has finished.


When Do I Need to Switch to GA4?

If you are wondering when you need to make the switch to GA4, the good news is that Google Analytics 4 is already available for use. All new accounts that are created will use the new Google Analytics platform. This means that you will be able to create a GA4 view for your website and have it running alongside your current Universal Analytics, gathering data on your website. This will give you the chance to view the differences between GA4 and Universal Analytics and find your way around the new GA4 before you make the switch.

After the 1st July 2023, Universal Analytics will no longer gather data. 360 Universal Analytics properties will stop processing new hits on the 1st of October 2023. You will still be able to see reports for a short period after this date but new data will only be gathered and available on GA4. If you have not already set up a GA4 property for your website, you should aim to set one up soon so that your account starts to gather comparative data. GA4 will not backfill your new property with historic data so the sooner you set it up, the sooner your account will start gathering data.


How Do I Switch to GA4 from Universal Analytics?

The way that you switch to GA4 will depend on where you are setting up Google Analytics for the first time or if you are making the move from a Google Universal Analytics account. If you are setting up Google Analytics for the first time, you will automatically be directed to the new GA4 so will not have to worry about running a Universal Analytics property. If you already have Universal Analytics and need to add GA4, we have included a guide below.

If you want to add a Google Analytics 4 property to an account that already has analytics, you will be able to collect data on both properties until the 1st of July 2023. You can set up your new GA4 property using the GA4 Setup Assistant Wizard from Google. You will need to be in an Editor role for the account you are trying to add GA4 to. Google also has step by step instructions for if you are using a CMS that doesn’t already use gtag.js.You’ll then be able to create a new GA4 property in analytics and start processing the data from your site on the new property.


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Google Analytics 4 vs Universal Analytics

Whilst many may be sceptical about the new version of Google Analytics, what really is the difference between the two versions of analytics? Google’s Universal Analytics, for those who use the current version of analytics, includes a range of hit types and events that differ in the way that they are recorded in GA4. Universal Analytics hit types include e-commerce hits, social interaction hits, page and event hits whilst every interaction is now classed as an event in GA4. Google has a case-by-case comparison table to compare how events are tracked in GA4. Things such as categories, actions and labels are now a thing of the past with page views translating to the page_view event in Google Analytics 4.

In terms of User IDs in GA4, the ID now represents a cross-platform and cross-device view of how users have interacted with your website or app.


Where Can I Find Out More About GA4?

If you want to know more about the new version of Google Analytics, there are plenty of resources available from Google to shout about the new GA4. You can take a look at their introduction to GA4 on their marketing platform or take a look at their GA4 training. Alternatively, your digital marketing specialist will be able to help with setting up a new GA4 property, moving to GA4 from Universal Analytics and managing your Google Analytics account. As part of our digital marketing services, we use Google Analytics to track the success of all of our activity from PPC to SEO and beyond so are well versed in using analytics to track website activity for our clients.


The Digital Marketing Specialists

Whether you are using the new Google Analytics 4 to track your search engine optimisation practices or recording ad performance on your Google ads campaigns, our team of digital marketing specialists are here to help. We pride ourselves on keeping ahead of the curve when it comes to adapting to Google’s changes and are perfectly placed to offer advice on all areas of digital marketing for you and your business.

To find out more about our digital marketing services, contact our team online or by calling 0121 552 6500. Alternatively, take a look at our SEO, PPC and Social Media service pages to find out more about how we can make your digital marketing efforts a success.