Sunsetting Google Universal Analytics to GA4 in 2023: What You Should Know
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Google has been signalling for some time that it is planning to sunset Universal Analytics after introducing GA4 – its most advanced analytics platform yet. The time has finally arrived to get ready for the transition.
If you’re still using Google Universal Analytics, you will need to look at upgrading to the latest version before July 1, 2023. However, we recommend you do this as soon as possible for several reasons. Don’t delay on upgrading!
And if you have no clue what we’re talking about and need a way to keep track of your SEO efforts, then this guide is for you! Follow our easy GA4 Upgrade Blog Guide to learn how to install or upgrade your Universal Google Analytics properties today!
What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is a free analytical tool that allows you to monitor and analyse your website’s traffic and conversions. It’s the most popular internet web analytics solution on the market.
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the newest version of Google Analytics. Importantly though, GA4 collects data differently than Universal Analytics (UA), so it’s imperative that you understand the differences before making the change.
GA4 uses machine learning to automatically surface insights, so you don’t have to constantly check your reports. It also offers new features, such as cross-device tracking and customer behaviour modelling.
Why Upgrade to GA4?
There are several reasons why you should look at upgrading to GA4 as soon as possible:
- GA4 is the future of Google Analytics, and UA will eventually be sunsetted by mid-2023.
- GA4 offers new features that UA doesn’t, including automatic insights and cross-device tracking.
- GA4 uses machine learning to surface insights, so you don’t have to constantly check your reports in the dashboard.
It’s important to note that GA4 will not automatically import your historical data. That means the sooner you install or upgrade to GA4, the more historical data you will begin to gather inside the new system.
Because the two use different coding systems, there isn’t currently any way to import your historical data from UA to GA4. That’s why it’s so important to upgrade as soon as possible to track your previous SEO efforts and website statistics over time and have some sort of data to compare.
After July, Google Analytics 4 will become the brand new go-to solution for monitoring website activity so make sure you’re prepared as a website and business owner!
How to Upgrade to GA4
Upgrading to GA4 will require you to create a brand new property that runs alongside your UA property. It’s pretty much as if you’re starting a new analytics account right from scratch.
Follow these steps to upgrade to GA4:
- Create a new property in your Google Analytics account
- Select “Google Analytics 4” as the property type
- Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the setup process
- Install the GA4 tracking code on your website or app
- Add the new property ID to your Google Tag Manager container (if you’re using GTM)
- Start using GA4!
Benefits of Using
Google Analytics 4
Universal Analytics is now considered obsolete, with Google moving on from it due to its inability to deliver cross-platform insights. GA4, on the other hand, can expertly measure data across websites & apps.
The first benefit of the new GA4 is that it uses machine learning to automatically surface insights. This is a big time-saver, as you don’t have to constantly check your reports to review your website performance.
Another benefit is that Google Analytics 4 offers new features that UA doesn’t, like automatic insights and cross-device tracking. Cross-device tracking is especially important in today’s age of mobile devices and apps. By not relying exclusively on cookies and using an event-based data model, GA4 can operate across multiple platforms, making it a much more future-proof solution. It is also said to offer more privacy protection than UA, which is becoming more and more important to web users.
GA4 no longer stores IP addresses and by using this tool, it can help businesses meet users’ evolving needs and expectations thanks to its more granular and comprehensive controls for data collection & usage. With GA4 now labelled as the future of Google Analytics, now is the perfect time to upgrade your account in order to avoid any disruptions to your data tracking.
Enhanced Tracking with GA4
We’ve mentioned that Google Analytics 4 offers enhanced tracking features that are not available with UA, like cross-device tracking and customer behaviour modelling. Let’s explore what this means for your website…
Cross-device tracking allows you to see how your customers interact with your website or app across multiple devices. This is important in today’s age of mobile device usage and apps. You can use this information to enhance the user experience across your website. An enhanced user experience leads to higher rankings in search engines and better overall SEO results in the long term.
The provision of insights across customer touchpoints, as well as customer behaviour modelling, allows you to create effective models of customer behaviour, so you can better understand how they interact with your business and brand online. This helps you make informed marketing and business decisions both in the short and long term. Furthermore, GA4 is designed to help businesses meet several key business objectives, namely generating leads and connecting online & offline customer engagement.
Why You Should Use Both Properties Together
Even though GA4 is the future of Google Analytics, there are still some benefits to using both properties together while you still can.
The first benefit is that you can use UA to track your historical data. This is important because GA4 will not automatically import your historical data from UA.
The second benefit is that you can use both properties to track different conversions. For example, you can use GA4 to track sales and UA to track newsletter signups.
The third benefit is that you can use both properties to segment your data. For example, you can use GA4 to track website visitors and UA to track app users.
Finally, GA4 is still pretty new. While Google’s developers are working hard to improve it, there may still be some bugs at the stage. Using both properties together can help you avoid any disruptions in your data tracking.
Get Expert Help For Your GA4 Upgrade!
While a GA4 upgrade might seem pretty easy to DIY, you will want to hire experts to get the most from this new powerful analytic system. GA4 migration is just the start though. Inside the new property, you’ll be able to configure events, goals, and more to start unlocking the power of Google Analytics 4. This is all in addition to keeping your Universal Analytics property running alongside it until it is fully sunsetted.
Save the date and mark your calendar for:
- July 1, 2023: All standard Universal Analytics properties will stop processing new data.
- October 1, 2023: All 360 Universal Analytics properties will stop processing new hits.
Fortunately, the team here at iOnline can help you with performing your GA4 upgrade for you, as well as provide guidance on how to get the most from this new system.
Complete your Google Analytics 4 setup as soon as possible to ensure proper data tracking for your website. Making sure your GA4 property is fully configured will help you take full advantage of its features, including measurement continuity, automatic insights about the customer journey’s, as well as easy activation to improve your marketing ROI.
We are the premier web design, SEO and digital marketing agency on the Gold Coast that can help you to set up the tracking you need for your business and website to ensure your success in the future. Get in touch with iOnline’s friendly digital marketing team today to discuss your needs, and let’s get started on your GA4 upgrade right away!