A Quick Start Guide To The New GA4

A Quick Start Guide To The New GA4

Google Analytics is an online tracking platform that allows businesses to measure their website’s performance. Many companies find it essential, as it collects valuable insights into an audience’s habits when interacting with the website. In turn, businesses can use those insights to create a more refined, targeted marketing strategy.

Previously, Universal Analytics was the central platform Google Analytics offered its users – that has changed. Universal Analytics will soon be a platform of the past, and in its place is Google Analytics 4. GA4 has been up and running since October 2022, and users will only have until July 2023 to move to it.

What Is GA4?

Google Analytics 4 is the latest tracking platform from Google. It allows you to measure how users interact with your website via various metrics, which prove extremely useful when setting marketing goals. Here are some of the things that GA4 allows you to view:

. How a user found your website

. Audience demographic

. AI insights

. Conversion rates

. Engagement time

So, why did Google move from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4? There were multiple reasons, one big one being to keep up with the higher privacy standards expected from platforms. On top of that, GA4 provides a more user-friendly experience and in-depth metrics.

What’s Changed From Universal Analytics To GA4?

First, it’s a good idea to understand the similarities. While GA4 does change the game, the main goal stays the same – it still measures website performance through metrics, so businesses can see how their customers respond to marketing techniques.

Now, onto what has changed. Here are some of the key differences between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4:

. GA4 collects both website and app data

One of the most significant changes from GA4 is that it allows users to track data from both their websites and mobile apps – something that couldn’t be done on UA. This makes it simpler for users to understand their audience.

. How user’s actions get recorded

Universal Analytics had a lot of different hit types and sessions. However, GA4 simplified this by instead using an events-based model. Instead of having many different hit types, GA4 has one category called ‘events’, which can be anything from a user clicking onto a web page to signing up for a newsletter. These events also have event parameters, which are extra information on top of an event that provides more insight into the metric.

Events can be split into four categories: automatically collected, enhanced measurement events, recommended events, and custom events. Automatically collected events, like a user’s first visit, are the most common and are automatically provided. Enhanced measurement events provide more data, but you don’t need to set them up and can somewhat customize them. Recommended events add more context, such as refunds, log-ins, and purchases. Then, finally, custom events are ones you have complete control over, hence the name ‘custom’.

. Privacy-focused

GA4 provides more privacy than UA. For example, GA4 does not store IP addresses. There are also set limits on data retention and more security regarding data in general.

When Do You Need To Move To GA4?

As of 1st July 2023, Universal Analytics will no longer process any new data, so you should aim to make the switch by then. Ideally, move to GA4 well in advance of that date so that you can get used to it!

How To Set Up GA4

Fortunately, migrating from AU to GA4 is easy – it doesn’t take too long, and you’ll benefit from all the new features as soon as you’ve completed the process. Paul Morris, MD from Bristol SEO agency Superb Digital, explains the key factors to get you set up and running with Google’s new analytics system.

1: Log in to your Google Analytics account using your username and password.

2: From the Google Analytics dashboard, go to ‘admin’. Click on the account you want to migrate, then click ‘GA4 Setup Assistant’. From there, a box will appear saying, ‘I want to create a new Google Analytics 4 property’. Underneath that, click ‘Get Started’.

3: On the next page. Click ‘Create Property’ – the big blue button at the bottom. That’s it! It is that easy to migrate from AU to GA4.

Keep in mind that in some cases, you may need to add your new GA4 tags manually.

There is another method for setting up GA4 for new users. To get started with GA4 as a new user, you’ll need to go to the Google Analytics homepage and click the link ‘get started today’. As Google Analytics 4 has completely replaced UA, the application process, you will automatically be using Google Analytics 4 to measure your website or app’s data. Click here for a more in-depth guide on setting up GA4 (particularly as a new user).

What Are The New Pages/Reports?

You’ll want to get used to the new pages and reports quickly. Instantly, you’ll see the difference on the homepage. You’ll find a large graph on the homepage with the number of users, average engagement time, and total revenue. You’ll also see where new users come from and which pages get the most views.

You can find reports on the left sidebar – clicking on them will take you to them (this is different to UA in terms of navigation). In GA4, there are different types of reports, including:

. Snapshot report

. Real-time report

. Life cycle collection

. User collection

. App developer collection

These are predefined reports given by GA4. However, there’s a real emphasis on customization. You’ll be able to customize reports and then add them to the left menu. You can also change the predefined reports to suit your goals better.

What Are The Most Important Metrics To Track?

Setting up GA4 is only the beginning – what you really care about is the metrics. Here are some of the most essential metrics to track.

. Engagement Rates

Engagement rates are new to Google Analytics. They are based on sessions, and you will either get a session or an engagement session. A session will only come up as an engagement session if:

– The user visited the website for longer than ten seconds

– The session turned into at least one conversion event

– The user visited more than two pages or screen views

This replaces the bounce rate from AU. To measure the engagement rate, GA4 divides engagement sessions by sessions.

This metric is crucial as it provides real insight into your users’ engagement. If you have more sessions than engaged sessions, that shows something needs to be corrected with your website.

. Views

Views are a simple yet crucial metric that will give more insight into how your website pages perform. Views show how many times users have viewed a page or app screen. From there, you can determine the performance, influencing your SEO strategy.

. Users

The user metric will tell you how people are visiting your website. With this information, you can better understand how users find your website, as well as how engaging each page is.  

. Conversion Rates

In GA4, there are two types of conversion rates (both of which are important): user conversion rates and session conversion rates.

User conversion rates provide a percentage of how many users get converted (take action). On the other hand, session conversion rates provide a percentage of sessions involving any conversion event. This metric will help you get to know your user better. It will also show if your marketing techniques are working; the higher the conversion rate, the more effective it is.

. Average Engagement Time

This one is important – the average engagement time tells you how long users stay on your site. You can even see how long they last depending on where the visitors have come from, as well as how long they spend on each particular page. Overall, it’s a real insight into how engaging your website is.

Of course, there are plenty more great metrics that GA4 offers its users. Using a variety of them will significantly strengthen a marketing strategy.

Further Tips For Using GA4

. Pick your preferred graphs

In GA4, you can manually choose the type of chart you want for each report. Some people prefer line charts, whereas others prefer a scatter plot. By choosing one that suits you, you create a more customized experience – one that you’ll find more manageable. You can even hide the charts you don’t like altogether!

. Customise Reports

A lot of GA4 is about customization, so make the most of that by creating custom reports. By doing this, you’ll find reading the most important metrics a lot easier.

. Create Collections

Another helpful tool that GA4 provides is the ability to create collections (a collection of reports). You can create a collection of your favorite reports, which you can then add to the left menu bar. It will make navigation to your most sought-after reports much easier.

In Summary

This quick guide should provide you with the basic knowledge you need to get started with Google Analytics 4. As you can see, Google has implemented a lot of changes, with GA4 being a lot more forward-thinking and flexible. While it may take some time to get used to it, the additional features and more in-depth metrics are sure to help your marketing strategy.