Next summer, Google will be retiring Universal Analytics after over a decade of service. Its replacement, Google Analytics 4 (GA4), has been active since 2020 and will be taking over the reins as Google’s main analytics platform in July 2023. On that date, Universal Analytics will stop processing hits with Universal Analytics 360 following suit in October 2023. After this, previously processed data will be stored for at least six months after the closing date.
Now, July 2023 is still a long way away, but we know how fast time can fly in the SEO sphere! With this newest change just around the corner, the question is: What do these changes mean for you and your business?
If you already use Bizcor for your SEO or PPC services, you don’t have to do anything! GA4 will be implemented on your site before the month is through — and may already be done!
However, if you’re not, we can still help. With a shift this big, it’s best to prep and make the transition early! The first is setting up your new GA4 page. The good news is that if you have an existing Universal Analytics Account, you can make a GA4 property to collect data in parallel!
On your analytics dashboard, click the “Admin” button the find the “GA4 Setup Assistant option in the “Property” column. Once you see “I want to create a new Google Analytics 4 property.”, click “Get started.”
If your site uses the gtag.js tag, you can click “enable data collection using your existing tags” during setup to implement standard data collection for your GA4 property. This is a great timesaver as it’ll let your GA4 profile use existing tagging!
Either way, once you click “Create Property” your new GA4 page is ready to roll. Once it’s up and running, you’ll need to add the Global Site Tag to your website if it isn’t already present. If it is present, be sure to add gtag(‘config’, ‘<Some Property ID A>’); as a line in your existing site tag beneath gtag(‘js’, new Date());. This ‘Some Property ID’ follows the format of G-XXXXXXXX and can be found under “Measurement ID” in the Web Stream Details section of your GA4 page.
If you don’t have a Global Site Tag, you’ll need to add one before doing the above step! While you are in setup, you can copy the code there. This script goes below thetag on your homepage. Once it has been added, add the GA4 tag where described above and replace ‘GA-MEASUREMENT_ID’ with your existing GA account ID.
An additional precautionary step you can take once this is done is the migration of your old Universal Analytics data to GA4 to avoid tracking gaps. While there sadly isn’t a way to migrate directly right now, you can still move your historical data to the new service. In your Google Analytics report, open any data report you want to keep, set any customizations you, and click the “export” button. When you do this, keep an eye out for the green checkmark shield in the top left of the report; this means the data is not sampled! Once this is downloaded, find the “Admin” section in our GA4 property, click “Data Import,” then “Create Data Source” and upload the file!
Setting this account up early will give you the time you need to not only get used to the new system but also creates a backlog of historical data for when Universal Analytics shuts down. With the changeover happening in July of 2023, we recommend getting the account ready by July of 2022 at the latest!
With how fast technology marches on, many of the codebases that made up Universal Analytics are out of date. Being over a decade old, it was made first and foremost for the internet of 2012. To put this in perspective, the data model Universal Analytics is based on pre-dates the wide adoption of internet devices like smartphones! GA4 is structured with the modern internet in mind since its release in October of 2020, and as such will grow with the current tech landscape.
One major quality-of-life feature that GA4 has is the ability to customize navigation menus and reports. While a minor factor in the grand scheme, a bit of personalization can greatly help with workflow by making data readable in a way that “you” want it.
Unlike Universal Analytics, GA4 does not store IP addresses. With the rapidly changing world of privacy regulations across the globe, this will help your brand stay on the right side of these laws much easier than Universal Analytics!
As time ticks on, more and more people become aware of privacy issues revolving around cookies. This has led to an ever-growing number of “opt-outs” on cookie services, creating gaps in collected data. GA4 is designed to use machine learning to fill in those gaps for more accurate reports via blended data, a boon for a brand existing in a more and more online-focused business ecosystem.
While currently missing features compared to Universal Analytics, GA4 will continue to grow as a “live” service. With Universal Analytics entering the rearview mirror, it will no longer be receiving updates as GA4 improves. While things may be rocky if you’re making the transition in 2022; by this time next year, the platform will look wildly different.
When you make the changeover to GA4, resist the temptation to compare the old and new accounts. Due to the different ways the systems work, the data will be different. This is much more than a platform upgrade!
A bit over a year from now, Universal Analytics will be going away, whether we want it to or not. By acting now and preparing for the changeover by setting up an account on GA4, you give the tool time to start tracking your metrics and creating a store of historical data to reference. You’ll also get the time necessary to learn the ins and outs of the new system before it becomes a priority. Change is a constant on the modern internet, and the sooner your brand makes the switch over, the better you’ll be equipped to handle GA4 when it becomes the norm!
If you already use Bizcor for your SEO or PPC services, you don’t have to do anything! GA4 will be implemented on your site before the month is through — and may already be done! And if you aren’t taking advantage of our wide suite of services, there’s no better time than the present to start. Reach out to us and learn how Bizcor can help your business grow today!