You may have received an email from Google recently that “Google Analytics 4 is replacing Universal Analytics”, followed by you wondering, “What does this mean and what do I need to do?”

Here’s the download. As you know, Google Analytics is an important marketing tool that allows us to see where our website traffic comes from, the ranking of organic search queries, and track “events” such as downloads, video plays, link clicks, and so much more.

Google Analytics 4 EmailGoogle has announced that their newest Google Analytics 4 (GA4) platform will be completely replacing Universal Analytics beginning on July 1, 2023. This means you will need to create a new Google Analytics 4 property very soon to ensure that 1.) your setup is complete and 2.) you start collecting historical data that you’ll need to measure your results over time once Universal Analytics has stopped working.

You can continue to use and collect new data in your Universal Analytics properties until July 1, 2023, but on that date, you will no longer be able to see your Universal Analytics reports or data.

What is Google Analytics 4?

Google Analytics 4 is a basic analytics improvement that provides Event tracking versus Session tracking.

With the soon-to-be past Universal Analytics, “cookies” were sent to the user’s web browser to create “session hit types” including page hits, event hits, and eCommerce hits.

Google Analytics 4 data, on the other hand, is “event-based,” meaning that any visitor interaction with your website (page visits, link clicks, etc.) can be captured as an event. Google Analytics 4 will still use cookies for tracking when they are available, but with users increasingly utilizing privacy tools and browser settings, those cookies may become less and less prevalent. Google Analytics 4 helps gather more data than Universal Analytics because it does not solely rely on cookie data.

As some of you may know, Universal Analytics can’t track any link clicks without creating an “event” within Google Tag Manager. Google Analytics 4, on the other hand, can track link clicks on its own, but note that it only tracks “external link clicks” that go away from your domain. For internal link clicks, you will still need Google Tag Manager.

Create Your Google Analytics 4 Property

The steps to create your Google Analytics 4 property and enable data collection using your existing tags, are outlined here.

If you’ve created a new Google Analytics property and added the tracking code to your website in the past year, chances are it’s already a GA4 property.

If your website uses the Global Site Tag (gtag.js) tracking code, you have the option to “enable data collection using your existing tags” when creating the new GA4 property. When enabled, your Universal Analytics property hit types are translated into events within your Google Analytics 4 property.

If you use Google Tag Manager, or the older analytics.js tracking code, the setup wizard can’t reuse your existing tagging and you’ll need to add the tag yourself. This involves adding new Google Analytics 4 tracking code to your website, since GA4 cannot use analytics.js.

And if you need any support, don’t hesitate to reach out to us!