Are you using Google Analytics to track traffic on your website? You are? I’m proud of you! Tracking your website and marketing performance numbers is an important key to your success. But don’t worry if you aren’t yet as many organizations don’t track. It’s never too late to start!
— If you aren’t familiar, Google Universal Analytics (UA) is the industry standard measurement tool (it’s free!) and they provide a little snippet of code to embed in your website. It enables you to learn more about what people are doing on your website, how they get there, and what tools are the most effective at delivering people to your digital door. —
UA has been available since 2005 and the current version (GA3) is set to be retired due to its advanced age on July 1, 2023. The new version is called Google Analytics 4 (GA4) and it’s time to switchover, if you haven’t already. Google has been sending emails to anyone who uses the tool that come July 1, UA will stop working.
Get it Setup
If you haven’t made the switch yet, you’ll need a couple resources to get the job done. It’s not as difficult as you would expect because there’s a Setup Assistant that works quite well. These Google links are all you need – How to Add GA4 and Learn More About GA4. If you haven’t begun using analytics and need to start from scratch, here’s a Quick Start Analytics Setup also by Google. For a brand new setup, you’ll want to be logged into your main organizational account before setting up.
Never forget that Google is a for-profit company that sells advertising so they’ll encourage you to set up more parts and features than absolutely necessary because it benefits them. The Setup Assistant has three main parts: Data Collection, Property Settings, and Google Ads. A minimal setup that simply tracks traffic is fine. Make sure your “data is flowing” and the rest can be updated later, if you even want to.
You’ll be able to see both the old and the new in your dashboard. When you’ve opened them, you’ll be able to see the difference but from the outside it’s hard to tell. The screenshot shows you how to tell them apart before opening.
Why Does This Matter?
If you’re already using UA, you need to understand that it will stop reporting your web traffic come 7/1/23. Now is the time to export any historical data you want to keep. If you’ve been using it as long as I have, you may find that you can’t export everything because they have dumped some of our data over the years. You won’t have access to your historical data for long so use that July 1st deadline as a potential cliff where everything falls off.
What if You Don’t Setup GA4?
Google will do it for you. But keep in mind that if you’ve adjusted your analytics in any way, you likely won’t be able to refer to how you did it in UA to make sure GA4 is setup with the same customization. Do it now while you have access to both systems.
GA4 is Different
It’s big time different. I did the switch back in January and it took me a few months to get comfortable but I have the hang of it now. I did update the metrics template I offer that provides a quick reference for which data to collect by channel, check it out. I’ll leave it up to Neil Patel to explain the difference between the two. Scroll about halfway down the blog to learn more about the features in GA4 vs UA.
Let me know if you or your team need any training on how to access or understand GA4 or the analytics on your social media dashboards. I’m always here to help and to guide those that need it.