Introduction to GA4: The New Google Analytics

For a few months in the analytics sector.

People have not stopped talking about the disappearance of Google Universal Analytics and the need to move to Google Analytics 4.

Let’s dive into it.

What is GA4?

In the SEO ecosystem, different metrics are used to improve the positioning and conversions of a web page. 

Focusing on the search engine.

We use Search Console to check which searches have made our URLs visible and with which keywords we have obtained the most clicks. 

We monitor the average position of the most relevant keywords with Google Analytics

We check the sessions, transactions (leads or conversions), income, and conversion KPIs. 

GA4 Features

The main difference between GA4 vs UA is that it uses event-based data instead of session-based. 

There are three types of events: Custom, Enhanced, and Recommended, each with a different level of complexity. 

The configuration of personalized events can provide very valuable information about user behavior on a website.

And, based on this data, improve the capture of leads or sales.

Events allow us to measure user interactions in an app or on a website.

From loading a page, and clicking a button, to complete a purchase

In GA4 there is no page view hit and all data is collected via events.

Which is data based on user interactions.

How does Google Identify Users of a Website?

Google has different ways of identifying users browsing a website. 

Through Google Signals: Analytics associates the information of users who are logged into their Google accounts. 

For example, users who are logged in to the browser. 

They can also measure by location and device; that is, the demographic data of the users.

And of course, the consent to collect user data (cookies). 

GA4 Configuration

To launch Google Analytics 4 on our website and we already have Universal Analytics.

We must go to the Google Analytics page and follow the steps below.

  1. Go to the “Manage” section.
  2. In the second column, we will select the GA4 “Configuration Wizard” option. 
  3. Click on “How to start” in the “I want to create a Google Analytics 4 account” section. 
  4. Create and continue. 

If everything has been done correctly, the configurator will show us the “Start measuring data” screen with these options:

  • Use Google tags that we already have in the account. (Not recommended)
  • Install a Google tag. The option we recommend. 

We choose the option “Install a label” and click on the next button.

How to Implement the GA4 Code?

To implement the Analytics tracking ID we will have several options:

  • Install it with a CMS, which includes the most common platforms: WordPress, Wix, Drupal,… and the most used plugins or modules to insert the account code. 
  • Copy the Google code and insert it in the <head> code of all the URLs that we want to monitor. 
  • Via Tag Manager.
  • Google Analytics for Firebase SDK in an app.

When we have inserted the code on our website or app.

A window will appear with a button to “Go to your GA4 property”

Keep in mind that the browsing data will not be displayed instantly.

Until 24 hours after installation, we will not see data in the tool. 

We can link GA4 with other products to be able to cross-reference data from our audience. 

As an initial step, it is recommended to link it with Google Search Console

And, if our project is e-commerce, with Google Merchant Center. 

How to Configure Events in GA4?

From the left side menu, we must choose the option “Configure” and within it ” Events “. 

We can configure existing events and create new ones. 

Before modifying it is very important to review the documentation on the standards

Whenever possible we should use the suggested events, using names from the standards “page_view”.

For example, Google will collect additional information such as the title and the name of the page to be able to show them in the reports. 

GA targets have been replaced with conversions in GA4 but that conversion will only record the event name. 

So how are conversions recorded? 

We’ll need to create a tag to fire the unique event name for the conversion event. 

With the “Modify Event” button you can modify the parameters of an event. 

Remember that the names must be identical and the upper and lower case letters must be respected.

Types of events: 

  • Automatic events. They are the ones that Google Analytics registers by default when the Google tag is configured.
  • Enhanced Measurement Events. They are the ones that Google Analytics collects when the improved measurement is enabled, for example, it can be used to reach 90% of the scroll.

To verify that the events of our GA4 property are registered correctly.

We can use a browser extension such as Debug GA4 and verify that the events are launched as we had configured. 

When you are viewing data, check that you have the time zone and currency correctly configured. 

GA4 is very useful for defining business objectives and measuring its performance.

GA4 vs. Universal Analytics: Why Change?

GA4’s main reporting page is very similar to Universal Analytics. 

Different metrics are shown there to have a global vision of the project at a single glance. 

Websites using Universal Analytics will stop collecting data from July 2023

And it is not possible to migrate from one version to another. 

In addition, as the measurement system is different, comparisons with previous periods cannot be made if data was not being collected.

The decision should not be whether to change or not.

The decision is how we can adapt as soon as possible to this new way of measuring since it is the future. 

And while we get used to GA4.

We can continue to collect data from Universal as the data don’t interfere with each other. 

GA4 vs. Universal Analytics

As we have commented previously, the main difference that exists between these two versions is the way of measuring. 

But there are other features that make GA4 a more powerful tool: 

  • Automatic detection of Insights.
  • An intelligent data search engine.
  • Maximum measurement freedom.
  • The measurement is unified in APP and on the web.
  • Events are measured, not sessions.
  • Very flexible measurement panels.
  • Prepared for a future without cookies.
  • Native connection with Big Query.
  • Machine learning features that predict user actions. 

In recent months we have seen how the measurement of GA4 has improved and how new functionalities are being incorporated every time. 

Perhaps the main reason for the change may be that it is the future and that it offers a much more customizable version of data measurement. 

The measurement is more accurate in terms of user behavior. 

Of course, it can also be integrated with Google Ads where remarketing campaigns will be more efficient thanks to better tracking of the unique user. 

When to Migrate from Universal Analytics to GA4?

The best time to switch to GA4 was a few months ago.

But if you haven’t migrated to Analytics 4 yet, the next best time is today. 

The longer a project has been collecting data in GA4, the better prepared the business will be. 

UA data is not inherited and we do not know how long Google will leave that platform open so that we can consult the history of our web page. 

As we have seen previously, the measurement and display are different compared to the previous version. 

If we have been measuring for some time.

We will have had the opportunity to detect a failure in the events or we will have detected the need to include a new custom one.

The first contact with GA4 can generate a bit of rejection.

Since we have been accustomed to the other measurement for years and we must establish new KPIs that allow us to interpret the behavior of users.

When will Universal Analytics go Away?

Google announced that Universal Analytics will stop working in July 2023.

So migrating to Google Analytics 4 is something that needs to be done as soon as possible.

If you are not yet measuring with GA4.

We recommend that you follow the steps we shared above to collect all the data that can help you make your business more profitable.

It is a change that must be made if we want to measure how users behave and can continue to consult our metrics in Universal Analytics while we learn how GA4 works.

Thanks for Reading.

Leave a Comment