Have you been looking for a guide to get your business’s Google Analytics up and running? Look no further! We’re here to help you set up and learn more about Google Analytics 4, as well as how it helps you know more about key business metrics. There isn’t any time to waste; the July 1, 2023 deadline to switch over to GA4 is fast-approaching! On July 1, 2023, standard Universal Analytics properties will no longer process hits.
About Google Analytics 4
In October 2020, Google Analytics 4 (GA4) replaced Universal Analytics, Google’s previous analytics tool for businesses. While similar to Universal Analytics when tracking, GA4 is different in how it reports data (which is part of the main point, right?). Accurate, and easily understandable, reporting allows you to see the full picture and take actionable steps for improved outcomes when it comes to your online presence.
In this regard, GA4 has two main focuses: data visualization and machine learning. As it is, GA4 provides more predictive analytics, business insights, and a broader spread of both graphs and charts than its predecessor. Google Analytics 4 is also concentrated on improved tracking. GA4 favors a more streamlined approach, with all related properties having their own “Data Streams” in a singular view. The hope here is for businesses to have a richer, and clearer, view of the value behind their online presence (which is great news!).
Here’s a helpful breakdown of Google Analytics 4’s major changes and features.
GA4 Data Structure
The first important update to note is the shift in focus from sessions to users and events. Previously, Google Analytics tracked data within sessions. Sessions are reported as a group of user interactions within a specified time. With GA4, the focus will be on individual user interactions. This shift in direction is significant because it means that data will be better able to predict user behavior and trends.
One of the main goals of GA4 is to make data easier to digest. Let’s be honest. Looking at an entire page of numbers and tables can be overwhelming! Google recognized this and created new features that make the numbers a little bit easier to understand. Here is a primer of how all this works, including through some swanky, new features.
The Analysis Hub breaks down data into templates and graphics that users can select and customize according to their needs. This enhanced visualization of data will help users understand and apply the numbers more easily and, in turn, create better-informed marketing strategies.
The previous Google Analytics platform provides reporting on user behavior, but the new Path Analysis takes it one step further. This tool provides a visualization of each step along a user’s website journey. This information is extremely helpful in finding user patterns and behaviors—and identifying areas where users are getting stuck.
Understanding audience demographics is essential in identifying a target audience. The Cohort Analysis tool allows users to create groups of website users with common characteristics. This kind of data reporting provides a deeper dive into audience demographics and the ability to track conversion on specific marketing campaigns and tactics.
Waiting for reports can be a pain and, sometimes, that information simply can’t wait. With Real-Time Reports in GA4, users will be able to look at event reporting in just 30 minutes! This feature is exciting because it will allow users to quickly track engagement and check to see that codes or features are working correctly.
Getting Started with GA4
Now that you have an understanding for the ‘why’ and ‘what’ behind GA4, let’s talk a bit about what needs to be done to complete the ‘how’ (more specifically, the how to use).
Unfortunately for SEOs and business owners alike, Google Analytics 4 does not pull data retroactively from Universal Analytics. So, if you haven’t already been using UA or made the switch to GA4, we’re likely starting from scratch to track.
Set Up Your Account
If you haven’t already, set up your Analytics by visiting analytics.google.com. You’ll need a Google Analytics account to get a Google Analytics tag for tracking. Nowadays, you’ll only be asked to create a GA4 account, as Universal Analytics is no longer in use.
Find & Copy the Right Tags
What you’ll need to do is, first, use a GA4 Configuration Tag to place your Measurement ID or global site tag on your site. If you use a CMS or website builder, you’ll want to import the global site tag in the <head> section of your site’s HTML. We recommend using Notepad or another text file that can easily copy and paste. Save the text in a note or other file and click out the popup box.
That popup box will redirect you to a new screen. Select down the property and hit “Tracking Info” and then “Tracking Code.” Pull the Tracking ID and the Global Site Tag. Copy, paste, and save them to your file.
If you have a WordPress site, you can use the MonsterInsights plugin to make your life much easier. Once the plugin is downloaded and active, open and hit “Launch the Wizard.” From it, you’ll log in to your Google Account and select for connecting GA4.
For Wix sites, it’s also quite simple. Log into your account and select your store. You’ll be prompted with a left-hand menu screen. From this menu, choose ‘Marketing & SEO,’ then pick ‘Marketing Integrations.’ Hit ‘Connect’ and, on the subsequent screen, hit ‘Connect Google Analytics.’ After that, you just have to drop your Tracking ID.
Fortunately, there’s also Google Analytics tag installation for Shopify and Squarespace sites as well. There’s some code that goes into these two configurations; however, you can refer to Shopify’s Google Analytics setup tutorial for more information regarding Shopify. For Squarespace, you’ll pull your Global Site Tags into the ‘Header’ section that populates each page of your website. To get there, you’ll navigate to the left-hand menu, choose ‘Settings,’ select ‘Advanced,’ and choose ‘Code Injection.’
Looking to the Future
The GA4 update can feel a bit overwhelming, especially with the July 1, 2023 deadline coming up fast. But the goal of the update is to make analytics more accessible and easier to understand than ever. This update will also help users make predictions about user behavior and forecast future trends. All of these updates are meant to help you make more informed decisions and marketing strategies!
We’re Here to Help!
If the GA4 update is something you want to learn more about, our comprehensive Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Services are here to help! Contact our SEO team today to learn about the Google Analytics 4 update and how you can best prepare.