Industry insiders (ahem, like us) have known for a while that Google Analytics 4 would eventually replace Universal Analytics. Well, we finally have a date. Starting in 2023, Google will officially begin sunsetting Universal Analytics – and that means websites using the older version will soon stop tracking user data.

Here are three things you should know about the impending GApocalypyse.

1

What is the difference between Universal Analytics (GA3) and Google Analytics 4 (GA4)?

GA4 seeks to provide a more comprehensive view of customer behavior and website traffic. While the most obvious changes may be to the core user interface, functional updates include:

  • More comprehensive data controls
  • Better integration with Google Ads
  • Improved customer-related data
  • Customized, intelligent insights
  • Shifted focus from sessions to events

Basically, the AI behind GA4 will make it easier to predict user behavior, analyze performance over time, spot trends and make data-driven decisions regarding your Google Ads spends.

2

Do I have to switch to GA4?

Yes. The previous version, Google Universal Analytics (GA3) will be discontinued July 1, 2023. While that may seem like a long way away, doing it sooner means you can convert, test and optimize your GA4 configuration while GA3 is still operating and actively collecting data. That little bit of overlap can go a long way toward strengthening your machine learning model, ensuring future analysis is just that much more meaningful.

3

What do I need to do to make sure my websites continue tracking?

If your website already uses Google Universal Analytics and you want to test drive GA4, there is a GA4 Setup Assistant Wizard available as well as instructions to walk you through the process.

However, it’s important to note that improperly configured GA3 properties won’t automagically be fixed when switching to GA4. As Google moves away from vanity metrics like page views and sessions toward more comprehensive metrics like events and parameters, it’s more important than ever to make sure your website is collecting the right kind of data and reporting it in a way that helps you make more informed business and marketing decisions – that’s where the pros come in.

Final Thoughts

The switch from Universal Analytics to GA4 is by far the biggest change to the Google’s Analytics Suite that we’ve seen yet. Even for those well-versed in the data collection and reporting capabilities of GA3, this change comes with a learning curve. Our advice is to be proactive and make the switch sooner than later so you have plenty of time to get acclimated to GA4’s new analytics environment.

And, as always, if you need help getting started, Responsory is only an email or phone call away.