If your team uses the free or paid tools from Google Analytics, you may have noticed Important changes stirring in Google’s web data services. First, Google revamped its App+Web tools into something called Google Analytics 4, or GA4. Then Google announced that GA4 would eventually be replacing Google Universal Analytics, where many businesses turned for free analysis tools. Now Google has set an end date for Universal Analytics, which means the clock is counting down: Here’s what’s going on and what you should do.
What is GA4 (Google Analytics 4)?
This is the latest version of Google Analytics that Google is shifting toward. It is a different suite of tools from Google, although there is some crossover with Universal Analytics and there’s likely to be more in the future. That’s because Google is planning to eventually shut down Universal Analytics and replace it with GA4. And if you’re wondering, this isn’t the first time Google has done this: There was once a GA2 and a GA3, too. So far, important features and changes for GA4 include:
- GA4 tracks events and allows you to create your own parameters for how those events are defined. There are no longer premade tracking options for pageviews, timing hits, transactions, and so on. Instead, you build tracking for the exact type of event you have in mind.
- Events can track more interactions than Universal Analytics was capable of. That includes things like clicking an outbound link, how much a site user is scrolling down a webpage, YouTube video views, and more. That has a lot of potential for setting up specific events your business is most interested in tracking.
- Adding data from your mobile apps to combine it with website data is a lot easier in Google Analytics 4, once you have it set up.
- Some reports available on Google Analytics 360, like studying pathing and funnels in greater detail, has been added to GA4.
- BigQuery, which was previously available only to premium users, is now available to all accounts, including free versions, and Google seems to be expecting more reliance on the tool.
- There are no more options to track events via session scope, only hit-scope (by default) and user scope.
- “Views” no longer exist in GA4, at least not at this time. The functionality may be added back in through future updates.
When is Google Analytics Shifting to GA4?
Google is discontinuing Universal Analytics permanently on July 1, 2023. The bad news is that that is less than a year away, the current Universal Analytics will no longer record data. You will be able to view historical data but not anything new! The good news is that you still have plenty of time to get your team ready to move to the new analytics platform and make any necessary changes – although you may want to start preparing now.
Why You Should Update to the New Google Analytics
You can still get valuable tools from Universal Analytics:
There’s no reason to stop using Universal Analytics yet. In fact, there are certain tools and methods in Universal Analytics that aren’t yet available in GA4. We expect Google will add most of these tools in time, but for now using both platforms can give you access to the broadest amount of information, while allowing you to keep using tools you understand and trust.
It can take time to migrate your data:
Setting up your website for GA4 will take some time, as well as switching over historical data to the new platform. It’s important that your site completes this process now, while both platforms are still up, than to wait until it’s too late.
Your team has time to train with GA4:
Google Analytics 4 will require some new tools, like Google Tag Manager, as well as new practices when developing web content. That can take some time to master, especially for employees who may be taking on new responsibilities. Start training with GA4 now, and your whole team will be ready to make the move when Universal Analytics is discontinued.
You can set up scripts, managers, and content before switching:
There’s a lot of “prep work” you can do with your site to get it ready for using GA4. Start now, and by the time you’re ready to stop using Universal Analytics, the transition will be painless.
Blue Atlas Marketing is Ready to Help with Your Move to GA4
If your website is still relying on Universal Analytics and these changes have you asking a lot of questions – let us help! Blue Atlas Marketing has experience working with website owners to help them start installing the right GA4-friendly scripts and tracking, updating their analytics setup so they will eventually be ready for the change. You can sign up for the service in minutes right here. We’ll also keep you updated on any further GA4 changes and how they will impact your site.