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Google Analytics 4 – What you need to know

Apr 1, 2022

I don’t know if you have heard, but there is BIG news in the Google Analytics world.

Google has just announced that on July 1, 2023 Google is going to stop processing data on Universal Analytics (UA) and only track data using Google Analytics 4 or GA4.

This is a big deal.

This is not an April Fools joke.

My reaction to this can be summed up by Elle Woods.

 

I don’t like this situation at all and am secretly hoping that GA4 will morph into UA somehow and that soon we will all wake up from this annoying dream.

If that doesn’t happen. We need to plan for the future. Specifically July 1, 2023.

In this post, we will review the main differences between GA4 and UA. And We will walk through exactly how to get started with GA4.

What is GA4

Google Analytics 4 is a significantly different version of analytics.

It is built on completely new data collection logic. NOW, instead of being based on traffic/user sessions, GA4 focuses on users and events.

This is wildly different than how we tracked data in Universal Analytics.

In Universal Analytics, a visitor would come to the site and we would track what the user did – how long they were on a page, what pages they visited and etc.

In GA4, it is totally events based. These events are user interactions with a website or app – like page views, button clicks, user actions, etc. It is focused on giving marketers a “more complete understanding of the customer journey across devices.”

In other words, if you check out a site on your phone (AND have a Google app open on your phone like Gmail or Chrome) and then later visit the same site from your desktop GA4 will track that– One visitor came from Mobile and then came to the Desktop.  It will help us understand how users interact with the site from mobile to computer to App and back again.

GA4 is more focused on measuring the end-to-end conversion vs. how a visitor interacts with the site.

Should you install GA4 now?

Yes.

Google is not going to migrate the years of data in UA into GA4. So it is super important that you install GA4 immediately so that you can build up data before July 2023.

We are all hoping that Google keeps UA data in some sort of legacy view. We are constantly looking back to 1, 3, 5 years or more to see traffic trends.

Currently Google is not going to keep the data in UA. It will be lost. Google has not provided a solution for getting the data from UA as of now, April 2022. 🤞🏾

Insert cry for help: Please Google keep our data and let us access it!

For now, you can have both UA and GA4 running on your site at the same time. I recommend this strategy.

How to install GA4 onto your WordPress Site?

Pro Tip: If you are an active client of ours, we will install it for you.

Pro Tip: If you are NOT a client of ours, you should become one. 

There are a couple super helpful resources that we found if you want to install GA4 yourself. Here is a guide on how to install GA4 to a site that is already running UA. 

In this video, Anna provides a helpful overview of GA4 and does a step-by-step setup on WordPress.

Here is a guide to install GA4 on Shopify and one on Squarespace. 

If you find screen caps more helpful, then check out Search Engine Journals recap of the situation. At the bottom of the article, they show you exactly how to install GA4 on your site and give some report examples.

 

 

What is Clapping Dog Medias Approach to GA4

Well. As Elle expressed above, we are sad.

BUT. we have a very healthy client list that depends on us to help them grow their business via search traffic, so we have to adapt and learn to love GA4.

Our strategy is to have both UA and GA4 on our sites until Google cuts off UA. We plan on learning and testing and diving in deeply to GA4. We will be updating our client Performance Reports over time to reflect the Analytics changes. Our job is to understand and then teach our clients, so that is what we will do.

If you want some help understanding what analytics is saying about your business, reach out and contact us. We are Meg and Nick and we like helping businesses grow.

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