Did you know that in just a few days, Google is switching off the old Google Analytics (universal analytics)?
That’s right after more than 10 years of UA, and a few years of messing around with what feels like an analytics system that still doesn’t fully work for all websites. Google is pulling the plug on the old system and pushing all users of GA to the new system.
What exactly does this mean for you and your business?
Here are the key takeaway points I’ve been giving my clients as an SEO Consultant over the past 6 months.
- From July 1st THIS YEAR! GA4 will be the only Google Analytics to track and process data.
- The only Google Analytics (universal analytics) system will cease processing data from July 1st 2023. From Universal Analytics 360 this is July 2024.
- If you haven’t already done so, login to Google Analytics and hit ‘yes’ to migrate and set up the new analytics … its not as complicated as it once was — Google has done a good job at making it fairly straightforward for most sites. If you need a hand give an SEO (like me, *waves*) a shout, or indeed a developer. Time really is of the essence here, don’t leave it until 1st July!
- GA4 is a move away from device-based and browser-based tracking (cookies) and instead is about user-tracking. This means that as you (or rather your user) move between devices (desktop to smartphone for example), the analytics should know who that user is — this makes the analytics feel more seamless and will make the analytics much more valuable in the longterm. (The more data you have the better) The emphasis here is on the longterm, because there is no migration of old data in UA to GA4, so you are starting with a new dataset here.
- But GA4 isn’t just about websites — oh no! Google Analytics can also now present alongside website data your app data as well as in-app data, so you can finally get you entire online selling process and conversion process tracked. And this is why it is such a nice move to track a user and not a device or browser — as long as Google knows the user (hash) Id then it can track that user clearly and knows they visited your site, went into your app and eventually converted — you can see the whole story and how and when events happened (as long as you set it up well, there are no promises that is easier than in UA though).
- Finally, as I’ve suggested, GA4 comes with a learning curve. As an example — Bounce Rate is dead! (I literally am doing a small dance every time I say this). However, for some website owners, the question is why, how do I find out what my page is worth … and the answer is there are other metrics such as Engagement Rate to replace this, but also there are tons of other things you can look at in GA4 … its part of the learning curve and i suggest you take a look at the documentation its really handy rather than just winging it. Plus, having been around for a few years before they depreciated the old UA, there are tons of resources around if you need to add extra events.
The Key Differences Between The Old Analytics and New GA4
There are several internal differences in Google Analytics 4 as mentioned above, starting with what can be tracked. So Analytics isn’t just about websites now but also apps, giving you an all-round view of your platforms.
However, for this section, we will compare more like for like to enable you to jump into GA4 from Universal Analytics once you’ve got data available.
- PageViews and Sessions — Become “Events”. Almost everything measured in GA4 is an event, all actions are events and you can track pretty much everything as an event and call it back later.
- BounceRate is Dead … Engagement Rate is New. Bounce Rate measured how many people visit one page and then navigate away from the site in a given time — this is now gone. Engagement Rate measures sessions that last more than 10 seconds.
- Conversions and Goals are also “Events”. I told you everything was an event!
- E-commerce Tracking (purchases) are also “Events” … don’t make me say it again 😉
- Session Calculations vary between GA4 and UA — the methodology has changed for calculation, not just because this is now user based and not device but also in other ways (this leads to a large variance sometimes in session counts for data). As an example Google Said: In GA4 a session ends after 30 minutes of inactivity (or your session timeout settings), but sessions can now carry over across midnight [which it had not previously] and are not affected by encountering new campaign parameters.
- Google Tag Manager is now VITAL — As all goals and conversions are events, these must be tracked in via GTM — these can no longer be done via a funnel chain in Analytics itself as previously in UA (an advantage here is there is no longer a limit of 20 goals — it is unlimited as long as you can use GTM).
If you are stuck and haven’t moved to Google Analytics 4 yet then now is the time, you need to make the move in the next week or two to avoid being without tracking from July 1st.
If you do not have the resources in-house to make this happen for your website, get in touch with SEO Andy and we can help you. We can either guide you through it or do it for you (it depends how hands-on you are).