On July 1, 2023, Universal Analytics standard properties will stop processing your website data. To prepare your business, get to know the difference between Google Analytics 4 vs Universal Analytics.
We will examine the benefits of GA4, and how to successfully and easily make the transition.
What to Know Google Analytics 4 vs Universal Analytics
Because Universal Analytics will stop processing data in July 2023, Google advises every site owner to migrate to Google Analytics 4 right away. This is to make full use of previous data and to make sure that GA4 matches your unique requirements.
You will then have the option to personalize the setup, including using the most recent site tag.
Let’s dig into the details!
New Features in Google Analytics 4
Google Analytics 4 (aka GA4) is Google’s latest analytics platform. It has several new features, including tracking behavior across devices and platforms, automatic event tracking, and flexible property configuration.
The biggest features in GA4 are how it uses machine learning as well as a unique identifier to track a user’s behavior across devices. Cross-device tracking like this provides a comprehensive view of the customer journey.
Providing greater control and customization, another feature includes configuring GA4 properties to match your specific business needs.
Overall, the new features in GA4 make it easier for businesses to gain deeper insights into user behavior and customer journeys and, eventually, improve their experience and increase conversions.
What are the differences between GA4 vs UA?
The six main differences between Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics (aka UA) are data collection, machine learning, user-centric data, user-ID tracking, reporting, and configuration.
GA4 uses an advanced data collection method called “measurement protocol.” This advanced method collects more granular data and improves tracking, while UA uses what’s considered now a “less advanced” model for its data collection.
GA4 uses machine learning for automatic event tracking, anomaly detection, and audience building. UA does not use any machine learning.
By collecting user-centric data versus sessions and pageviews, GA4 offers a full picture of user behavior across devices and touchpoints. Conversely, UA is more focused on tracking based on sessions and pageviews with less device attribution.
UA requires additional code for cross-device tracking, while GA4 has this feature built-in with the User-ID feature.
Simplified and minimalistic, GA4’s reporting interface streamlines insights and considers itself more user-friendly.
With GA4, you have more flexibility in configuring the analytics platform to match specific business needs. Universal Analytics has very limited configuration options.
Custom Dimensions in GA4
For example, a manufacturer’s website might require specific dimensions to fit their business needs.
Custom dimensions in Google Analytics 4 are a feature that allows businesses to collect and analyze data specific to their needs. You can use this data to track information not automatically captured by GA4, such as the type of product being viewed on an e-commerce website or the content category of a blog post.
Similar to UA, the custom dimensions act relatively the same. They are set up at the property level and can be used to capture user-centric data so you can analyze the user journey across devices and platforms.
Tracking Hit Types
In GA4, hit types mean the kind of interaction tracked or event on a website or app.
There are four main hit types in GA4: page view, screen view, event, and conversion.
Hit types are important to GA4 tracking because it allows for a better understanding of user behavior and interactions on a website or app. Businesses can track specific data and gain insights into user behavior by using different hit types.
Universal Analytics Users: What You’ll Miss in GA4
While Google Analytics 4 has several new and improved features, Universal Analytics has some aspects a lot of marketers and owners might miss:
- Familiarity: UA has a more traditional reporting that many have grown used to navigating.
- Integration: UA has been widely adopted and has many third-party integrations available, making connecting with other tools and platforms easier.
Until now, the choice between UA and GA4 has depended on a business’s specific needs and requirements. But, as of July 2023, when Universal Analytics is sunsetted, all website owners who want to get analytics data from their websites will need to switch to Google Analytics 4.
How to Transition from Universal Analytics to GA4
Follow these steps for an easy, breezy transition from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4:
- Plan: Start by evaluating your current analytics setup and defining your goals for the transition.
- Create a GA4 property: Next, create a GA4 property in your Google Analytics account by going through your admin settings. There’s an option to have Google do this migration for you automatically. We recommend you DO NOT use this option and set it up yourself or hire a professional.
- Connect: Set up GA4 data collection by installing the GA4 tracking code on your website or app or by using Google Tag Manager. Double check you’re getting traffic after you set it up. It may take a few hours for it to connect.
- Map your metrics: Map any metrics that you have set up in UA to GA4 to ensure that your custom analytics continues to collect those results.
- Test: Test your GA4 implementation to ensure that all conversion events (formerly known as goals in UA) and user interactions are tracked correctly.
- Migrate reports: Create new reports in GA4, noting that there might be significant differences in default channel groupings or pageviews.
- Monitor and adjust: Don’t just set it and forget it. Make necessary adjustments to your events or reports to reflect your business needs.
- See ya, UA: Once you are confident that your GA4 setup is working correctly, it’s a good idea to start using GA4 exclusively so you get used to that interface before UA disappears completely.
We recommend taking your time and walking through your GA4 to get a thorough understanding of how Google will report your website traffic. This will not only ensure your implementation is set up properly but also help you learn the new analytics platform and navigate the insights you need.
As a business owner, the good news is that you don’t need to do this set up alone!
Get to Know Google Analytics 4 vs Universal Analytics with Us
SNAP Agency has a team of SEO experts who are ready to help you make the transition. Call today for a consultation on how SNAP Agency can help you make this transition in your business.