Why Upgrading To Google Analytics 4 (GA4) Should Be A Top Priority

an image of a laptop and GA4 data and graphs

Google Analytics has been a crucial tool for businesses for almost 20 years now since Google acquired it from Urchin in 2005. It provides valuable insights into user behaviour, conversion rates, audience demographics, and much more. However, times are changing, and technology advances rapidly that’s why Google Analytics has undergone numerous updates – it is currently on its fourth version, Google Analytics 4 (GA4). This new version has now replaced Universal Analytics (UA), bringing in a new and improved version with enhanced features. One such feature is its natural integration with Google’s BigQuery, which was previously only available in the enterprise GA 360. In March 2022, Google announced that UA would cease collecting new data on July 1, 2023, with GA4 taking over its place. Consequently, upgrading to Google Analytics 4 should be a top priority if you want to stay ahead in today’s competitive online landscape.

What is Google Analytics?

For those new to web analytics or just need a refresher, Google Analytics tracks every interaction users have on websites, and mobile applications, and is part of the Google Marketing Platform. Best of all, it is available for free to anyone with a Google account. This platform collects massive amounts of granular-level data allowing companies to analyze their visitors, and understand their needs, preferences, behaviours, and purchasing patterns, providing you with information to conduct effective search engine optimization (SEO) and adjust your marketing strategies. 

With such information, businesses can optimize their websites to improve user experiences and increase conversions. For instance, by analyzing which pages perform well and why, you may adjust content placement to drive more organic traffic or enhance design elements. Similarly, understanding user engagement levels helps identify areas where improvements are necessary while addressing potential obstacles hampering performance. Such decisions lead to higher rankings on search engines as well as increased profits.

Compliance with Data Privacy and Protection Regulations

Compliance with data privacy and collection laws and regulations is crucial for anyone with a website because it helps protect the privacy and security of website visitors’ personal information. Collecting data from website visitors without their consent can lead to legal issues and damage to the website’s reputation. Google Analytics 4 is designed to help you comply with these data privacy laws. It includes features such as user consent controls, data deletion on request, and data retention controls that help you manage the data in compliance with the current data privacy laws and maintain a positive reputation.

Laws and Regulations

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) are two of the most notable laws that require website owners to be transparent about how they collect and use data, obtain explicit consent from visitors, and give visitors the option to opt out of data collection. 

How GA4 Helps You Comply

At its core, GA4 was built with the philosophy of being privacy-focused, transparent, and secure. As over 65% of the world’s internet population uses Chrome, having this level of commitment towards privacy is not only admirable but also sets the industry standard moving forward. By including privacy and security features like IP anonymization, which stores only a truncated version of the IP address, it ensures compliance with data privacy regulations. IP anonymization safeguards the data gathered and processed so that it is not personally identifiable information (PII). Basically, this feature masks user IP addresses, rendering it impossible to associate collected data with any individual user. As a result, businesses can collect, analyze, and process data without compromising user privacy, thereby boosting user trust and confidence.

Enhanced Tracking Capabilities

Google Analytics 4 offers improved metrics such as predictive metrics made possible by machine learning,  cross-device conversion tracking, which allows following individual users across various devices as they navigate different sites, platforms, or channels and, as its name suggests, it can predict or estimate the possibility that a user will convert. This feature will help you identify new opportunities, optimize user experiences, and increase conversions.

Event-Driven Data Model

GA4 uses an event-driven data model that allows you to collect and analyze data more efficiently. It provides more flexibility and customization options, allowing you to track and analyze user behaviour based on specific events. For example, you can define specific actions that users take on your site or app, such as clicking a button, watching a video, or completing a form, as “events”. These events are then tracked and can be used to analyze user behaviour and measure the effectiveness of your website or app.

This approach allows for more detailed tracking and analysis, as it focuses on the specific actions that users take rather than just overall pageviews. Additionally, the event-driven model can provide insights into user behaviour that may not be apparent from pageview data alone. Consequently, you can gain deeper insights into user behaviour and improve your website’s performance. 

How to Migrate to GA4 Successfully

Google has created clear guidelines to walk you through the process step by step. 

Preparation

  • Create a new GA4 property and add the GA4 tracking tag to your site using Google Tag Manager. Check the new property over the next few days to ensure traffic data is populating.
  • Make a list of tracking items you currently use in Google Analytics, such as events, goals, content groupings, custom dimensions/metrics, referral exclusions, and audiences. Evaluate what to keep, discard, or create.

Start the Process

Next, start the migration process with event-based goals and then migrate destination-based and engagement-based goals: 

  • For content groupings, use Google Tag Manager
  • For custom dimensions and metrics, set up in the GA4 property interface
  • For referral exclusions, go to the Data Streams section under your GA4 property admin menu and select More Tagging Settings
  • For product links, connect your Google products to your new GA4 property. 
  • Google Analytics audiences can be used for advertising purposes and conversion setup in GA4. It’s important to create your audiences well before July 1, 2023, so that you can update your Google Ads campaigns with comparable audience lists when the UA properties stop tracking.
  • For ecommerce tracking, it’s recommended to create a separate set of tags for GA4 ecommerce tracking. Google Tag Manager is ideal for implementing ecommerce tagging across your site.

Test and Verify  

After setting up your GA4 property and migrating your key tracking items, it’s important to test that are working properly. This will ensure that your data is accurate and that you’re capturing the right information. For example, check your Real-Time Reports, verify your Data in the Standard Reports and compare your UA and GA4 Data. By doing this, you can identify if you need to make any changes to your tracking setup.

Also, don’t forget to stay up-to-date with new features and updates since GA4 is a new platform, and Google is constantly updating and adding new features so you can take advantage of new opportunities and features to improve your tracking.

The Clock Is Ticking: Make the Migration ASAP

Migrating to GA4 is an important step for any website owner who wants to track their website’s performance and make data-driven decisions. Savvy Search Marketing has ensured that all our clients have successfully migrated to GA4. If you would like to learn more about how Savvy Search Marketing can help migrate to GA4, contact us online or call us at 1-855-488-0988 today. Migrating to Google Analytics 4 is vital for any business that wants to stay competitive in the digital age. With its enhanced cross-device tracking, AI-driven insights, improved privacy controls, and better data visualization, GA4 provides businesses with the tools they need to analyze and understand your customers better. Don’t wait until it’s too late – migrate to GA4 today and start reaping the benefits.


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Savvas Kyriakides is a passionate entrepreneur and Digital Marketing Strategist. His ability to quickly grasp and understand many different business models and verticals combined with his passion for digital marketing and strategy, enables him and his team to execute sharp, focused and measurable action plans for Savvy clients.

Savvas is a keen chess player, having played chess at international level as a student and young adult. This included participation in three World Chess Olympiads and a World Chess Junior Championship. Savvas has applied his chess skills involving strategy, focus, concentration and understanding of the competition to digital marketing. Every move is connected and measurable.