Since 2005, Google Analytics has provided marketers and businesses with options to gain more clarity on targeting. Over the years, Google has made impressive improvements to its Analytics engine by adding features and providing an enhanced toolset to its platform.
The statistics generated by Google Analytics give you essential insight into your website, social media, ad networks, and various tagged application performances. It is possible to monitor everything from how much traffic arrives at your website to where those visitors come from and how they behave.
One significant way this has happened is by applying or tagging these entities with a UA string.
On July 1, 2023, Google will replace the most commonly used Analytic (Universal Analytic) with GA4 or Google Analytics 4 with new features and many improvements and will be the future of Google Analytics.
What's the change in UA - GA4
As mentioned above, Google Analytics 4 will be replacing Universal Analytics. Here's a quick chronology of GA's development history:
Google Analytics - is the oldest version of google analytics and was introduced in 2005, when smartphones were not around.
UA or Universal Analytics - this version came out in 2012 with a new and improved performance and became the standard and default property type of widely used analytics.
Google Analytics 360 - In addition to UA, this new software suite provides Tag Manager, Attribution, Optimize, Surveys, Data Studio, and Audience Center; introduced in 2016.
Google Analytics 4 - is the latest version of google analytics that came out in October 2020 and will replace UA on July 1, 2023.
What is the difference between UA and GA4?
Here are the differences between UA and GA4 regarding features and benefits.
Event-based: GA4 is event-based, while Universal Analytics is session-based. While UA requires advanced setups, GA4 can easily track events like button clicks, video plays, viewed images, and more.
Privacy-focus: GA4 does not rely on cookies, making it durable for the future. On the other hand, UA relies on cookies.
Cross-device tracking: While UA is built for desktop web traffic, GA4 allows businesses to see how their customers interact with all their sites and apps.
Machine learning: GA4 users can share insights and make predictions due to the machine learning technology built in GA4.
Efficiency - Optimized campaign performance and increased marketing ROI by integrating Google's advertising platform
Terms you should know.
If you are starting in google analytics or would like to transition now, you may wish to learn the following terms.
Organic search — visits to your site from a link on a search results
Property — the website or app that you are tracking
Account — This is where each property is located in your dashboard. Multiple properties can be set up on a single account, or multiple accounts can be created for different properties.
Conversion — The visit that was converted to a customer or potential prospect.
Tracking ID — You need a unique code to track a website or app.
Event — An event triggered by a visitor's behavior, such as when they click on an ad, view or stop a video, and download a file
Keywords — This indicates the words visitors use to find your website or app using search engines.
Channel/Traffic source — Indicates where your traffic comes from, such as search engines, referrals, links, emails, and social media,
Session duration — Time that visitors spend on your website or app.
Landing page — initially displayed to visitors when they access your website.
Segment — a method of filtering data, such as by category or type of visitor
Acquisition — Tells where traffic is coming from, such as search engines, social networks, email marketing campaigns, and links from other sites.
Bounce rate — the number of visitors who view one page before leaving
Active users — This shows you the numbers of active visitors in a specific period. Active users also show you what pages are most visited for you to check what's keeping their attention and make changes on other website pages.
Lifetime value - Lifetime value reports tracking visitors throughout their lifetime, from their first visit to their first conversion and subsequent visits and purchases. This indicator can help you know what turned visitors into customers and potential prospects, and this can help you make changes and adjustments for your visitor's needs and interests.
What do you need to do?
If you are still using Universal Analytics or Google Analytics 360, here are the things you should do
Switch to GA4 - it is mentioned above that Google Analytics 4 will be the default and only available analytic by the start of July 2023; therefore, you should start switching to GA4 now. You can set up a GA4 property together with your existing UA property. Set up your current tags with the GA4 Setup Assistant.
Adjust your Google Ads conversion tracking - Import Analytics conversions into Google Ads and remove any UA goals to avoid duplicate tracking.
Export historical reports - Google will still give access to your UA for six months after GA4 starts on July 1, 2023. During this period, you should export all important data to you.
How To Get Started with GA4
Sign up for a Google Analytics account
You will need an account to start GA4. Go to google.com/analytics. On the upper left corner, click on get started. If you're already signed in, click on Access Google Analytics.
Click the Get Tracking ID to complete the account setup.
Set up Google Analytics on your website
You will need a <script> tracking code to track your website. You must input the tracking code on every page you want to track. You will get a tracking code when you get redirected to the tracking code section once you complete setting up your account. Here are ways how to do it:
In your website template, you copy and paste the tracking code.
You can create “analyticstracking.php” file with the code and add <?php include_once(“analyticstracking.php”) ?> after your template’s <body> tag.
Ensure that your web host, website builder, or blogging platform integrates Google Analytics; nearly all do. All you need is your Google Analytics web property ID, a string of numbers prefixed with UA that identifies your site. The tracking code is automatically added to each page by several WordPress plug-ins.
If you want your team to view your GA4 account, all you need is their email addresses. Under the Admin tab on the left sidebar, you can select User Management. You can also give them admin access.