DIY: Step-By-Step Migration Guide to Google Analytics 4
Google Analytics 4 is the latest version of Google Analytics and was announced on October 14, 2020.
The main difference between Google Analytics 4 and the earlier versions is that GA 4 uses machine learning to provide insights about your website visitors. This means that it can automatically surface patterns and trends that you might not have noticed otherwise.
Another key difference is that GA 4 allows you to link your data with other Google products, such as AdWords and BigQuery. This gives you a more complete picture of how your website is performing.
Transitioning from Universal Analytics to GA4
You’ve likely heard by now that Google is updating Google Analytics from Universal Analytics (UA) to a new version, named Google Analytics 4 (GA4).
The update will bring several changes, including:
-A new set of user engagement goals
-More options for cross-device measurement
-Improved data model
GA4 features a different data model. This means that some reports and features that you’re used to may look different in GA4. The tracking code for GA4 is also different from Universal Analytics. You’ll need to update your tracking code to use the new GA4 code.
GA4 offers new features and insights that aren’t available in Universal Analytics. For example, GA4 can surface patterns and trends that you might not have noticed otherwise. It can also help you understand how your website is performing across different devices.
If you’re currently using Universal Analytics, you’ll need to transition to GA4. Google has created a guide to help you with this transition.
A Step-by-Step Guide in Migrating from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4
Create your Property in Your GA Account and Launch It
Creating your new GA4 properties and launching them as soon as possible is critical. Your GA4 property will only track traffic data from the moment you create it and forward it because data won’t be imported from UA. The sooner you create it, the more data will populate in GA4.
Ideally, this should be completed before July 1, 2022. However, if you miss this date goal, simply create your GA4 property (or properties) as soon as possible.
To launch the new property, follow these steps:
- Create your GA4 in your Google Analytics account. To achieve this, go to your Admin tab and click “Create Property.”
- Add the new Google Analytics 4 tracking tag to your site.
You should use Google Tag Manager to make this easier. Check the new property for a few days after launch to ensure that you’re seeing traffic data populate the property.
Create a List of Your Action Items
It is not possible to duplicate existing data analysis properties (e.g., goals, events) by adding new analytics properties (such as event triggers). You need to integrate these tracking items into your new GA4 account.
The following is a list of the most common data analysis properties in Google Analytics.
- Goals (Conversions)
- Custom Dimensions/Metrics
- Referral Exclusions
- Product Link Connections
Once you’ve finished, examine which tracking elements are still essential and non-essential to your campaigns. You can delete the ones that are not relevant to your campaigns
Make sure you understand how goals are made in each reporting view before transitioning. Because GA4 does not use reporting views, if you wish to keep all of your existing goals in multiple reporting views for the same UA property, you must list them all and re-create them in the GA4 property.
Unlike the previous reporting views, which restricted you to 20 conversions per the report, GA4 restricts you to 30 conversions per property.
When you write down your current objectives, be sure to include any “non-event” goals (for example, destination-based goals), since you’ll need to adapt how you keep track of them going forward with GA4.
Proceed with Migrating Individual Items to GA4
The actual setting up work begins after you’ve compiled a list of things to re-create in GA4. The following are the most frequent items for setup, as well as some suggestions for getting them up and running.
Creating events in GA4 is comparable to setting up UA; however, you may need to re-tag for GA4 objectives. In GA4, some events, such as scroll depth, that you manually configured previously are now automatically implemented.
To begin, look at the events in your GA4 property’s GA4 Configure section to see if any automated goals are tracking. There’s no need to duplicate events that Google has already created for you. For this task, Google Tag Manager is the easiest tool to use because it automatically creates all the necessary code.
Goals in GA4 are now known as “Conversions,” and all goals are event-based.
When moving your existing UA objectives to GA4, It is initially recommended to work with event-based goals, which are more comparable to the original goal set up in UA.
Start with destination-based and engagement goals once you’ve set up the events in GA4 and flagged them as conversions.
- You may add a goal to GA4 by the user interface or code if you want to track goals that were previously destination-based.
- If you’re attempting to track goals that were previously engagement-based, you’ll first need to establish a GA4 audience (see below) and then recreate the engagement-based objectives using it.
Custom dimensions and statistics are another two-step procedure, requiring initial set up in both the interface and code.
The dimensions and metrics tags you used in earlier versions of the Universal Analytics code may be migrated over to GA4, but you’ll need to create them in the GA4 property interface.
In GA4, referrals are still restricted in some ways, but they’ve been renamed and shuffled a few rungs down from the top administrator levels.
To add referral exclusions, go to your GA4 property administration menu and choose Data Streams. Then click More Tagging Settings under the Additional Settings box for your site data stream (your URL).
Click the “Configure Your Domains” option in the right-hand menu. To add new domains for third-party applications that connect with your website or marketing automation tools, click “Add a Domain.”
Product Link Extensions
You’ll need to reconnect your Google products’ connections to your new GA4 property. It’s fine to have multiple GA properties linked to your Google properties, so you don’t have to delete your existing UA product links for them to connect to GA4.
Links to your products now appear at the top level of the property administration menu. Connect your new GA4 property to Google Ads, for example, as well as other Google services you use like Gmail and YouTube.
The most common reason for losing conversions is a lack of customisation. Audiences are not only useful for advertising, and Google Analytics audiences can now help you create conversion setups in GA4. Set up your audiences ahead of time so that when the UA properties cease tracking, you may change your Google Ads campaigns with comparable, effective audience lists.
To make a GA4 audience, start by focusing on the audiences in your list in UA and locate those that have Google Analytics as the audience type. These will need to be recreated in GA4.
After you’ve set up your data tracking items in the new GA4 properties, double-check that they’re working properly.
If you are moving a previously successful eCommerce operation to a new property, you must evaluate your eCommerce, conversions, event tracking, and other elements to ensure that they are operating as expected. If not, troubleshoot the problem and correct it as soon as possible.
Set a Specific Date for Migrating to GA4
In a nutshell, to change your single source of truth from UA to GA4, you should wait until you have year-over-year data in your GA4 property. Because the metrics and monitoring in GA4 are completely distincter than they are in UA; thus you cannot accurately utilise UA data from one year and compare it to GA4 data from another.
If you can get your new GA4 implemented before July 1, 2022, you may start relying on it as a single source of truth on July 1, 2023.
However, if you use the free Google Analytics version, you’ll be forced to migrate to GA4 as your main source of truth on July 1, 2023, even if the year-over-year data with UA isn’t comparable.
Archive Your UA Data
To make matters worse, Google decided that in addition to forcing us all to migrate to GA4 immediately, they will also wipe out all of our historical UA data starting on January 1, 2024. While you have a few more months to preserve this information, you should schedule an archiving session just in case you need it later.
There are a few ways to go about this, but we recommend using BigQuery for long-term data storage because it’s affordable and easy to use.
To get started, create a new project in the Google Cloud Console and name it something like “UA Data Archive.” Then link your GA account to this project so that your UA data will be accessible in BigQuery.
Once you’ve done that, write a script that will export your UA data into tables in BigQuery on a schedule that makes sense for you. We recommend running it at least once per week so that you have a complete picture of what’s going on in your account.
By following these steps, you’ll be able to transition from Universal Analytics to GA4 with ease. Google Analytics 4 offers new features and insights that will help you better understand your website’s performance.
Get Help in Migrating from UA to GA4
The process of migrating from UA to GA4 can be daunting, but luckily, you don’t have to go it alone. Our team of experts is here to help you make the transition as smooth as possible.
We’ll start by assessing your current Google Analytics implementation and data needs. From there, we’ll help you create a plan that outlines the steps you need to take to migrate successfully. We’ll also be there to answer any questions you have along the way.
Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can help you migrate from UA to GA4.