GA is the most popular tool for understanding how people use their websites. 85%+ use Google Analytics for our websites. It’s free, robust, and… did we mention… it’s free!
GA3 was built for a world when Facebook IPO’ed, Google+ launched, 4G launched, and Myspace died. We were data hungry marketers – as opposed to the trend towards privacy these days.
How is GA4 different?
Well, to state the obvious, it’s the forth version of GA. Replacing Universal Analytics (we’ll call it GA3 here for simplicity) which we’ve had since 2012.
GA4 is designed to work in a cookie-less, multi-device world: bringing your mobile, desktop and app worlds into a single place.
GA4 is predictive analytics based – it will help you spot trends and predict what is coming in the near future, too. As marketers – this will help us double down on what is working.
Finally, it’s built from the ground up: as opposed to GA3, which is a version of analytics that had been built on an existing coding base.
Basically… GA4 is a complete learning curve over GA3 that is better to learn today than waiting till the last minute. At the end of the day though, this is something we need to care about!
⚠️ Why does this matter? – This point is important! ⚠️
GA3 will stop processing information from July 1st 2023 – meaning it will stop processing information from that date onwards.
However in the same blog post that announced this, Google also shared that ‘you’ll be able to access your previously processed data in Universal Analytics [GA3] for at least six months’.
Translation: there is a high likelihood that Google will delete your historical Google Analytics data at some point after those six months are up. To be clear: this is rumours right now – but Mary shared some of the reasons why in the full talk.
⚠️ Why does this matter? – part two ⚠️
If you measure month over month, or year over year comparison – then you need to start collecting data in GA4 TODAY.
This is because GA4 and GA3 data is not the same. Even though some of the language is familiar, how these metrics are counted is different between the two platforms. The result is in a year’s time, if you’re comparing 2022 GA3 data and 2023 GA4 data – you’re going to be comparing apples to oranges.
Here’s what you need to do right now
(MARY SHOWED US HOW IN THE FULL VIDEO BECAUSE SHE’S AMAZIN’):
- Configure your GA4 property (it takes less than 10 minutes)
- Turn on enhanced measurement: this allows GA4 to automatically track page views, scrolls, external link clicks, site searched, video plays and file downloads
- Turn on Google Signals: Allows GA4 to automatically report user demographics and interests, and more accurately track users across different devices and platforms
Here’s what you can do in the next week
(Mary also showed us live in the video how in the full video here):
- Use Google Tag Manager to create additional events (goals): your GA3 goals will not carry through to GA4
- Note: GA4 limits the amount of custom events you can create: which means you need to be thoughtful about which events you want to create
Here’s what to do in the next two weeks:
- Start creating your current reports in GA3 and GA4, so you can begin to work through the differences
- Follow Google Analytic’s blog for updates and changes to GA4
Here’s what to do in the next three weeks
(again, Mary showed us how in the live video):
- Turn on BigQuery integration – this will mean you can capture your GA3 data before it’s gone. This is more advanced, but the first step is just creating an account – so then the data is becoming captured.
Mary Owusu Bio
Mary Owusu is the founder of SEOSprints.com where businesses learn to accelerate their traffic and boost their leads using SEO sprints.
Her SEO Sprints system shrinks the time it takes to leap your website to the top of Google by exposing–then capitalizing on–your website’s unique pressure points. How? You “sprint” by creating an instant SEO Scorecard for your specific website and then mapping those scores to your custom SEO Roadmap and SEO Checklists, so you can finally outrank your competition and accelerate your traffic, leads and impact. If you or your team are overwhelmed by your current SEO process or underwhelmed with your current SEO results, perhaps it’s time to start SEO sprinting.