Google Discontinuing Universal Analytics and Switching to Google Analytics 4: What This Means and How to Transition4 min read
Google has announced that on July 1, 2023, it will discontinue its standard Universal Analytics (UA) properties and no longer process data. Instead, it is switching to Google Analytics 4 (GA4).
So, what does that mean for those of us currently using UA? You can continue to collect new data until next year, and once the change is complete across the board, you can access that data on UA for at least six more months. However, Google is strongly suggesting people export their historical reports and start making the switch as soon as they can.
Google Analytics History
Google Analytics first came out in 2005, and it eventually evolved into UA in 2012. Since then, the software suite Google Analytics 360 and the latest version of Google Analytics, GA4, have stepped up to the plate to take care of all your analytics needs.
Differences Between GA4 and UA
GA4 is different from UA in several ways. GA4 is focused on event-based rather than session-based tracking, like with UA. This means GA4 can track button clicks, video plays and other interactive actions right off the bat, while these functions would take more advanced setup in the standard UA.
GA4 is also built with all desktop, mobile and app usages in mind, while Google built UA for desktop traffic only.
Plus, GA4 uses machine learning technology and doesn’t rely heavily on cookies for privacy and security.
How Do You Know If You’re Using UA or GA4?
If you’re unsure which property you’re using, Google Support gives a key date to look at. This change will affect business owners who created their property before Oct. 14, 2020.
If you created your property since then, you may be already using a GA4 property, and you don’t need to take further action.
How to Make the Switch From UA to GA4
Follow the next steps to ensure a smooth transition from UA to GA4. Although the steps themselves are fairly straightforward, how long each step takes will depend on your data usage and the complexity of your business.
Create Your Google Analytics 4 Account
Sign in to your Google Analytics account. Under the profile tab, follow the guided instructions to create a new profile. Make sure you follow the most recent instructions from Google. Connect this new profile to all your current web properties, including data sources and anything else unique to your business.
[Related: Our Services: Website Hosting & Maintenance]
Compare High-Level Metrics
Wait at least one month after you’ve started to collect new data with your GA4 account to see trends in data between the two accounts. Compare the differences, and ensure you identify and resolve any tracking issues.
Comparable metrics can include the following:
- Page views
- Visits by main traffic sources
- Visits by device type
Consistent differences can be due to the measurement changes between the two properties, but the goal is to be aware of your data in this new system.
Clean Up Data
Ensure all your events are tracking properly, and confirm any actions identified as “GA Goals” are now in your GA4 account as “Conversions.”
All metrics and data points originally set up in your UA account should now track in your GA4 account to help your business succeed.
Change Templates and Create Business Reports
Switch over any automatic reporting that takes data from your UA account to your Google Analytics 4 account. You might have to change certain metrics you were using in your reports that are no longer available or relevant in this new release.
Finalize these new report templates or automated instructions to match the data you previously received in your UA reports. After a few months, run reports in parallel to make sure your conversion metrics are the same.
Once you’re comfortable with this data, you can move to the final step.
[Related: Website Accessibility & SEO]
Make the Final Switch to Google Analytics 4
After you complete all these steps and feel confident about the data you’re receiving from GA4, you can make the final switch from UA. We suggest starting at the beginning of the month for a clean break and easy transition.
Archive old reports, and make sure everyone knows what day your business switched from UA to GA4. You can export the data from your UA property in multiple ways, including exporting individual reports, using the Google Analytics Reporting API or exporting to BigQuery if you’re a 360 user.
Contact Marketeering Group for Assistance
Confused about the switch from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4? Don’t worry — we’ve got your back.
At Marketeering Group, we pride ourselves on providing top-notch support to all our clients. If you have any questions or need help understanding this change and what it means for your business, contact us today!
Featured image via Unsplash