Universal Google Analytics will be going away. Here comes GA4

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Universal Google Analytics will be going away. Here comes GA4

Universal Analytics was always a dreaded dilemma for first-time users. That’s because every professional digital marketer was once a first-time user. However, the latest news in town is that GA4 has made its way in, kicking out universal analytics.

It’s time for search marketers and SEO companies to shake up the inertia and accept Google Analytics 4. 

Google announced that it will deprecate Universal analytics next year. Google Analytics has been the gold standard for marketing performance and tracking website growth. 

We use analytics every day, our team knows how the system works, inside-out. However, many brands that attempted working personally on this magnificent masterpiece of technology admitted that they didn’t understand what most of the terms and features meant? They’re our clients now because as an SEO company, we ensure that the analytics displayed for their brand is used to leverage their business.

However, since not many are still unfamiliar with the terminologies – we’ll share a few definitions and explanations.

What exactly is “property”? Do we use Universal analytics? We know you’re not alone, so here’s what we’re going to help you understand.

Let’s dive right into what the departure of Universal Google Analytics means-

  • Why and what is changing?
  • How will it affect your account, if it will?
  • What do you need to do?

What is changing?

Universal analytics is getting replaced by Google Analytics 4 starting 1st July 2023. 

The official announcement by Google was- “On July 1, 2023, standard Universal Analytics properties will no longer process data. You’ll be able to see your Universal Analytics reports for some time after July 1, 2023. However, new data will only flow into your GA 4 properties.”

Let us break it down for you!

What is a property?

A property is an app or website you are tracking using Google Analytics.  Since you are using Universal Analytics right now, it is called “Universal Analytics property” when using Google Analytics 4 it will be called “Google Analytics 4 property”. Both of these will show different data for the same page. 

What is Google Analytics 4?

Let’s get into some history lessons to understand GA4. 

The very first Google Analytics came in the year 2005. 

Then in 2012, a new and updated version of Google Analytics came- Universal Analytics, which became the default version. 

Google Analytics 360- which came in 2016 is the additional software suite to Universal Analysis. It provides a Data studio, tag managers, Optimize, Surveys, Attribution and Audience center. 

The latest version is the Google Analytics 4, which came out on 14th October 2020. 

How is GA4 different from UA?

GA4 will not just do better than what UA did but it is also built differently to align with the current and the future needs of reporting and privacy. Below are some of the benefits.

  • Event-based

 While UA was session-based, this is event-based. What it means is that the ability to track video played, and the number of times the button clicked is inbuilt in GA4. Which required an advanced setup in UA. This comes from the fact that page views are not the sole metric. 

  • Cross-device tracking

UA was built for desktop usage but GA4 gives visibility to the businesses into a customer’s journey across all the apps and websites.

  • Machine Learning

It is a huge part of GA4, which it uses to give insights and make predictions. 

  • Privacy-friendly

Unlike UA data, GA4 data does not rely on the usage of cookies.  

How would you know which analytics you are using?

If you built your property before 14th October 2020, you are most likely using UA. Anything made after that uses GA4. 

If you are not sure, you can check by clicking on the down arrow at the top left corner of your account, besides your property name. 

UA property IDs start with “UA” and end with numbers

GA4 property IDs consist of numbers only. 

What do you need to do?

If you are using UA currently, there are a few things to do on a priority basis-

  • Switch to GA4 as soon as possible

While you still have over a year before this change takes place, it’s better to switch to GA4 so that your GA4 account can gather some data for insights.

You will have to set a GA4 property alongside your current UA property. You can use Google’s GA4 setup assistant which gives you the option to set up along with your present tagging. 

If you use advanced features such as Google ads or custom events you can refer to Google’s page on how to switch to GA4

  • Adjust tracking of your Google ad conversion

Once you set up the GA4 property, you can see analytics data in your Google ad account. 

If you have conversion tracking set up, you need to import Analytics conversion into Google Ads. And also remove any UA goals to avoid duplication. 

  • Export historical reports

Google is going to allow your Universal analytics data for at least six months after July 1st, 2023. During this time you should export all your important data. You can use either of the three ways to export the data-

  1. Use Google Analytics report API
  2. Export individual reports
  3. Export to BigQuery

We’ve already mentioned it before, but we’ll repeat, don’t drag or delay the inevitable of switching to GA4. The sooner you switch, the less historical data you will need to export. GA4, here we come!

If you need help with using Universal Google Analytics to your brand’s advantage, get in touch with us, your reliable SEO Company. Our SEO specialists will help your brand gain the visibility required to establish a long-term business with customers. Also, as we still have a year left until GA4 takes complete authority over its throne, we suggest you hire an SEO company to start with ranking your brand’s website. This is so that once GA4 settles in completely, there’s no back and forth with switching over from Universal Google Analytics.