Upgrade to Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
The sun has now officially set on Universal Analytics.
Did you know that Universal Analytics ceased recording new data as of 1st July 2023? That means it’s time to upgrade to Google Analytics 4 (GA4).
If you have Google Analytics on your website and you have not yet upgraded to Google Analytics 4 (otherwise known as GA4), then this blog is for you.
So what’s changed?
Up until very recently, everyone’s code for Google Analytics was something called Universal Analytics. In the majority of cases, this meant that your individual analytics code started with UA, then a hyphen, and then your personalized number, e.g. UA-123456. The new version of Google Analytics is called GA4 (which is short for Google Analytics 4).
Upgrading to GA4 might seem like one of those pesky jobs that you really didn’t want to add to your list, so I’m here to make it easy and put your mind at ease.
The good news is that for most people it will only take 10–15 minutes to complete, and the majority of users can do it in just a couple of steps. If you’re a details person, the full support article from Google can be found here: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/10759417?hl=en.
Additionally, if you would like to follow along with the instructions on our YouTube channel, you can check them out here: WebHolism – YouTube.
Upgrade to Google Analytics 4: Step by step
- Access Level. Before you start, you need to make sure that your user access to your Google Analytics account is either editor or administrator level. If your access is any lower than that, you won’t be able to complete the process. If you don’t have the correct level of access, contact your website developer or whoever set up your Google Analytics account and ask them to increase your access so that you can upgrade to Google Analytics 4.
- Check whether you already have a GA4 account. Because Google are lovely, they have already automatically created Google Analytics 4 accounts for a lot of people. So, before you go through this process, double check and see if you’ve already got a Google Analytics 4 (GA4) property set up. To do this, log in to your Google Analytics account and (at the top of your screen) you will hopefully see something saying, “Google have already created a Google Analytics 4 / GA4 property”, or it will reference the GA4 setup assistant. Either way, click on the button, follow the instructions that it gives you, and you should be able to confirm the new GA4 account.
- Using the Setup Assistant. For a GA4 property that Google has created on your behalf, just configure and change the settings as you need. Google should have imported all your basic settings over from your Universal Analytics property, which include things like your time zone, etc. If Google hasn’t already created a GA4 property for you, then follow the instructions in the Setup Assistant.
- If you get stuck, Google’s help guide is here: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/9744165?sjid=9348647573160116108-EU#zippy=%2Cin-this-article
- Pulling in new data with your old (Universal Analytics) Google code. If your Universal Analytics Google Code on your website is relatively new, GA4 may be able to pull in data using that old code, which means no changes to your website are required. Hurrah!
- Installing your GA4 code manually. If you’ve discovered that your GA4 isn’t pulling any data through your old Universal Analytics code, then you’ll need to install your GA4 code manually. Not to worry, this isn’t a huge job, but the instructions do vary slightly depending on what website you have, so you can access the instructions for your particular one here: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/9744165?sjid=177329127951402106-EU#finish-creating-property&zippy=%2Cin-this-article.
Once you’ve installed the code you can go into your new GA4 account and be able to see Real-time reports in GA4 (on the left-hand side Google Analytics menu, you should be able to see Reports > Real-time), where you can visit your own website and then see the data pop up in your Real-time report. There is normally a 20 to 40-second lag between visiting your website and then seeing the data show up in GA4, but then you’ll start to see the data coming in. How exciting!
Hopefully, huge congratulations are in order now that you’ve upgraded to Google Analytics 4 and you’re seeing your data come through. Well done you!
Why is it important for my website and SEO to upgrade to Google Analytics 4?
It’s important to be able to see how people are interacting with you website, not only from a confidence boost angle, but also to understand which are your most popular pages, and to check and see if your sales pages are getting any attention.
With Universal Analytics no longer gathering new data (as of the 1st July 2023), you need to switch to GA4 in order to see any new website analytics data.
Why has Google created GA4?
The introduction of GDPR and privacy policies means that more and more people are rejecting cookies on websites.
Google Analytics 4 can work without using cookies (using machine learning to model missing data for users who do not consent to cookies), so you are still able to get your all-important data in a GDPR-compliant and user-friendly way.
If you found this useful, you might be interested in our SEO Secrets Newsletter where I share easy tips to keep on top of your SEO. I look forward to seeing you there!
Until next time,