Moving to Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

12.08.22

In June 2023 we wave goodbye to Google Analytics, the free web analytics service that has been providing statistics on website visitor behavior for over 75% of the world's websites for the last 15 years.

It's time to say hello to GA4.

What is GA4?

GA4 is Google’s latest version of Google Analytics. It will replace Google's Universal Analytics (UA) in June 2023.

It is more than just an upgrade; It's a totally new platform that reports user behavior in a different way. UA is session-based, while GA4 is event–based. In other words, the ability to track events like button clicks, video plays, and more is built-in with GA4.

How does it affect me?

From June 2023 data will no longer be collected in your existing Google Analytics platform and it will not be possible to transfer data from your existing analytics dashboard to GA4.

You will be able to export legacy data from your old dashboard until the end of 2023 approx, however, you will not be able to generate reports that compare data collected through GA4 with data in the old analytics.

The sooner you start using GA4 the more data you will have to play with for comparisons and reports.

What action do I need to take?

We recommend you install GA4 as soon as possible while continuing to use your existing Google Universal Analytics and run them in parallel. Don’t worry, if you have both Google Universal Analytics and GA4 running at the same time nothing will break and data will remain correct.

GA4 is a totally different platform and has it's fair share of teething problems. It isn't as simple to use as the old analytics, hence why we recommend to continue to collect data in your old account for the time being so you don't loose data should your GA4 reports not be working correctly at first. We recommending reading our guide below before you get started and there's also lots of training videos and help available from Google.

Are there any alternatives to Google Analytics?

Yes! We use Fathom to collect data on our website. It's privacy-first analytics tool that doesn't use cookies, and has easy-to-use reporting tools. It's €14 per month, but a small price to pay for your website visitors privacy! Google Analytics is free as it profits from user your visitors browsing behavior to sell advertising.

Getting started with GA4

Firstly, find some training and/or download the demo Google account to experiment on, this allows you to break and test as many things as possible! Find out more about using a Google demo account here.

Step 1 – Setup your property

To start using the new GA4, you'll need to set up a Google Analytics 4 property for your website. You'll need to be an Admin or Editor on the Google Analytics account to do this.

  • In your Google Analytics Admin dashboard, select the GA4 Setup Assistant to create a GA4 property that collects data alongside your existing analytics property.  Read more on how to add a Google Analytics 4 property to your existing setup.
  • Once you have setup your GA4 property, next you need connect your website by setting up a Data Stream. You can then add the tracking code (tag) to your website. In the Property column in Admin, click Data Streams > Add stream.
  • You'll need to paste the global site tag (gtag.js) snippet manually into your website CMS (for Craft CMS you'll find this in the Globals section). You'll find this by clicking your new Data Stream and at the bottom of the popup under 'Google Tag' > View tag instructions > Install manually.

The tag should look something like this:

sample-gtag-path.png#asset:3779

See Setup Assistant in the new Google Analytics 4 property to complete property configuration.

Step 2 – Configure your reports

Once your new property is set up and data is flowing in, you can begin exploring:

Step 3 – Adjust your user and event data retention settings

The retention period applies to user-level and event-level data associated with cookies, user-identifiers and advertising identifiers.

While the retention period and user-activity reset controls cover event and user-level data stored by Google Analytics, certain user-keyed data is by default deleted by Google Analytics after six months of inactivity for a given user for a Universal Analytics property or after two months for a Google Analytics 4 property.

You can choose how long Analytics retains data before automatically deleting it.

See more about GA4 data retention.

Anything else I should know?

Right now learning about GA4 is like walking on moving sand. Updates are still being made by Google so some of the information here might not be accurate at a later date. Please refer to Analytics Help for the most up to date information.

What if I need help setting up GA4

Get in touch with the team here at Path if you would like our help to start using GA4.