A Guide to Start Using Google Analytics 4
In October, Google announced the release of Google Analytics 4, citing it as an analytics tool that provides smarter insights to improve ROI. After an announcement like this, you may be wondering how to move forward with your Google Paid Ads strategy. Transitioning from the older version of Google Analytics to Google Analytics 4 can be a bit intimidating. However, develop your data strategy now. The transition is seamless and easier than you think.
The move to Google Analytics 4 is going to change how every person uses Google Analytics. The good news is that you have time to prepare for it: Google hasn’t announced when it will do away with Universal Google Analytics, so there is no need to panic. Taking the time to understand how your data works in GA4 will save you time and headaches later when you finally have to say goodbye to the Universal platform.
What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is a free tool provided by Google to track and analyze your website’s traffic. The tool collects data from your website and transforms it into easy-to-read charts, graphs, and tables. There are almost limitless options when it comes to viewing reports of collected data.
If you use other Google services, such as Google Ads or Google My Business, Google Analytics is necessary to run accurate campaigns and promotions for your clients. It is the foundation of reporting and supplies valuable data.
Using Google Analytics gives you an integrated digital strategy. You’ll be able to see your website traffic along with traffic from other platforms.
Step 1: Set Up Your Data Stream
The first step with Google Analytics 4 is setting up your data stream. You can upgrade a property In the admin section. If you choose to upgrade your property now, you will use the g-tag install for GA. The upgrade will instantly create a new property for tracking that starts with G-.
To keep the universal property operating while learning the new interface, make sure both tags are firing on your site. This action is key to using the universal reporting we are all familiar with while learning GA4.
After you create the property, connect it to a data stream. If you track both website and app traffic, you can add both data streams to one report. If you only use Google Analytics on a website, you only need to set up a website stream.
By default, GA4 will measure the essential components, including
- Page views
- Outbound clicks
- Site search
- Video engagement
- File download
Once you create a stream, Google will give you the full G property and code to install on your site. Remember, you still want to have your Universal Google Analytics code firing on the site or through Google Tag Manager for data to flow to both versions of GA.
Step 2: Realtime Refresh in GA 4
Once you install the new code on the site, navigate the real-time report to confirm the data flow. GA4 has combined all the individual reports from Realtime into one mega report. The user map now will update in real-time, plus show you data from the last 30 minutes.
There are two changes you need to know.
Google Analytics 4 is making the pivot to focus on engagement. As a result, user activity, including page views, is being tracked as events.
The second change is the conversions menu. Actions that we use to track as goals are now conversions. Google has also upgraded the number of conversions you can track to 30.
Even with an increase in trackable conversions, you will need to know tracking events. Google also added a new feature to GA 4. Now, you can customize and edit events in the Analytics interface. Customizing and creating events in GA means less reliance on coding event tracking in Google Tag Manager.
Step 3: Editing your events in GA4
When you first navigate to the events menu, it will show the standard events with Google Analytics 4. You will see buttons at the top of that screen that allow you to modify an existing event or create a new event. The menu also contains sliders that turn any event into a tracked conversion.
While every click on your website is important, you should only count certain clicks as conversions. That is where Google’s modifying events comes in handy. You can set up new events that only count as specified clicks.
To designate a click, click on the ‘create an event’ button. You will give the event a new name and the conditions for that event. Since all page views in GA4 are considered events, you can create an event as a ‘page location’ and put in the page name you want to track.
To verify your new events instantly, return to the Realtime menu. You will see the new custom event.
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