Answers To The 5 Most Pressing GA4 Questions Everyone’s Asking

Iulia Olteanu
March 22, 2023
Unlock the full potential of your website data with an upgrade to Google Analytics 4.

Google Analytics is one of the most powerful tools for tracking website performance and user behavior, providing valuable insights into how users interact with your website. On July 1st, 2023, Google Analytics 4 will replace Universal Analytics. This means that after July 1st, Universal Analytics properties will stop processing data, and Google will force a property migration if you haven’t proactively made the switch. But NEVER FEAR, Good & Gold is here with answers to your most pressing questions about the change and why you should make it. We’re here to help your business migrate from Universal Analytics to GA4!   

Why is Google updating Universal Analytics (UA) to Google Analytics 4 (GA4)? 

With the migration to GA4, Google is making a significant shift in its approach to its data model, cookies, and privacy implications: 

UA is built on a session-based data model, with goals measured by sessions rather than users. For example, if a user watches three videos in one session, UA only counts this as one “conversion”. With GA4, Google shifts to an event-based data model, which means that in our previous example, each of the three video plays count as a “conversion”. 

Cookies and data privacy are challenges that Google is also addressing with the transition to GA4. As data privacy concerns arise, more and more users want to opt out of sharing their data, and as they do, the UA analytics model can no longer report on website users and traffic as accurately as before. GA4 is designed to fill these collected data gaps using machine learning and other adjacent protocols called “blended data”. It’s also designed to rely on first-party cookies, keeping user data private as they move from website to website.

Why should I upgrade to GA4?

Well, ya kinda HAVE to. Google will force the upgrade on July 1 if it’s not already been made. But aside from the fact that it’s required, here are five great reasons to upgrade from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 today:

  1. Advanced Insights
    GA4 provides more advanced insights than the previous version of Google Analytics thanks to its use of machine learning and artificial intelligence. This allows GA4 to offer more detailed and accurate information about user behavior, helping you to better understand how users are interacting with your website and how to improve their experience.
  1. Cross-Device Tracking
    With GA4, you can track users across multiple devices, providing a more complete picture of their journeys and behavior. This is particularly important in today's multi-device world, where users may switch between desktop, mobile, and tablet devices.
  1. Improved Privacy Controls
    GA4 has been designed with privacy in mind, offering improved controls for data collection and handling. This can help to ensure that your website is compliant with data protection regulations and that users feel comfortable sharing their data with you.
  1. New Reports and Features
    GA4 offers a range of new reports and features, including customizable dashboards, real-time data streams, and predictive metrics. These new tools can help you to better analyze and understand your website data, allowing you to make more informed decisions about how to improve your website's performance and user experience.
  1. Urgency
    Google announced that support for the older Universal Analytics would be deprecated in October 2022. Since then, any existing Universal Analytics properties have continued to collect data but no longer receive new features or enhancements. So, upgrading to GA4 is not just a beneficial choice, but also an urgent one for website owners to ensure their tracking keeps pace with modern web tracking techniques and tools.

What do GA4 changes mean for my business? 

This new version of Google Analytics isn’t just a platform change or OS upgrade, it’s a whole new system. GA4’s advanced machine learning capabilities and cross-device tracking will provide you with a complete picture of your customers' journeys, allowing you to optimize your website for maximum engagement and conversion. With GA4, you'll gain powerful insights that will help you make informed decisions about your website and digital marketing efforts. In addition to the data collection model change we outlined earlier, GA4 has improved key pain points:

  1. Spam Traffic
    Ever seen a GIANT spike in traffic on Universal Analytics, or a bunch of random traffic sources, and been like, WTF? GA4 is addressing issues like this by assessing and excluding bot traffic, so when you see traffic spikes on GA4, you’ll know they’re related to your marketing efforts, not spam!

  2. Data Retention
    GA4 offers options for data retention time periods (two months or fourteen months) so you can focus on pertinent, timely user data patterns when making predictions and analyzing user behavior to map out website improvements and marketing strategy.

  3. Reporting
    With GA4, Google is enhancing their reporting by adding robust custom reporting. Real time reports will allow you to track audience behavior on the fly so you can quickly pivot and scale your marketing campaigns toward your goals. Exploration reports offer a flexible reporting style that gives you deeper insights into user behavior on your website, from sales funnel explorations to LTV, user journey, and free-form explorations.

What happens if I DON’T upgrade to GA4 before July 1st?

If you snooze on the migration and simply don’t perform it, Google will upgrade to GA4 for you. While the automated upgrade might work for smaller businesses with simple analytics set ups, businesses with robust custom tracking and any unique configuration will likely see their analytics properties breaking, leading to gaps in data collection and missed opportunities in analysis and privacy protection.

So, what do I need to do right now?

To ensure your unique business goals and objectives are properly migrated from your Universal Analytics environment to your new GA4 set-up, you’ll need to prioritize this upgrade well before July 1st. Depending on how complex your tracking needs to be, this switch can take up a month to properly configure and complete, so DEF don’t delay! Here are five basic steps to get you started:

  1. Audit your existing Universal Analytics set-up
  2. Create a Google Analytics 4 configuration plan
  3. Create and configure a new GA4 property (if you haven’t already)
  4. Install GA4 tracking code on your website
  5. Build out and customize your GA4 reports in-platform

Need some help? We’ve got your back. Ask us about our GA4 Migration Services and get the process started today! With our extensive knowledge, Good & Gold can seamlessly migrate clients to GA4, ensuring your digital marketing efforts are optimized for success! 

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