IN THIS ARTICLE:

    Victorious’ SEO team has received a lot of questions about Google Analytics 4 (GA4). With ten years as one of the most prominent analytics platforms, Universal Analytics was the reining champ of web analytics. Now, with the imminent deprecation of Universal Analytics and forced migration to Google Analytics 4, marketers need to shift gears and educate themselves on how to best integrate GA4 into their marketing strategies.

    To help ease the overwhelm of working with a new platform, I’ve compiled answers to the most common questions about Google Analytics 4. I’ve broken them up into three sections for ease of navigation:

    Google Analytics 4 Basics

    What is Google Analytics 4?

    Google Analytics 4 is Google’s free analytics service. It was launched in October 2020 and allows you to monitor traffic and engagement on your website and apps. 

    What is GA4 replacing?

    Google Analytics 4 is replacing Universal Analytics (UA), which is also known as Google Analytics 3 (GA3). 

    When will GA3 stop working?

    According to Google, Universal Analytics will stop collecting data on July 1, 2023. Data will be available on the platform for at least six months, but you won’t have access to any new data.

    Google hasn’t announced when UA data will become inaccessible. However, users should plan to export their data to Big Query or another cloud service.

    Why is Google sunsetting Universal Analytics?

    Google believes GA4’s measurement model better matches how people use the internet. 

    Whereas UA only provided information about websites, GA4 integrates data from both websites and apps so users can get a more comprehensive view of user and engagement metrics. 

    UA also relied heavily on cookies to gather data; GA4 will still use cookies, but they won’t be the primary source of information. 

    Google believes their new event-based data model will provide the types of user-centric measurement that site owners need to track the effectiveness of their web properties.

    How is GA4 different from UA?

    There are several important differences between Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics, including how they gather data, the metrics they collect, and where they gather information from. I go more in depth into the differences between the two platforms here.

    What’s the difference between a property and data stream?

    In GA4, a property is what holds your reports. If you have a website, it should have an associated property in GA4 to send its data to. If you have an app and an associated website, you can have both of them transmit data to a single property. 

    According to Google, a data stream is a “flow of data from a customer touchpoint to Analytics.” That touchpoint can be an app or a website, and it can only be linked to one property. For apps, each platform (android or iOS) will require a separate data stream. Google recommends a maximum of three data streams per property: one for a website, one for an android app, and one for an iOS app. 

    To create a data stream, you will need to add the provided code to your website or app. Once it’s properly installed, your data will populate in GA4. 

    How do metrics in GA4 correlate to those in Universal Analytics?

    Google Analytics does not track the same metrics as Universal Analytics. Learn more about the differences between GA4 metrics and UA metrics here.

    Does GA4 use third-party cookies?

    No, while GA4 does rely on cookies for some data gathering, it does not use third-party cookies

    Is GA4 GDPR compliant?

    No, GA4 is not GDPR compliant. Because Google Analytics stores data on Google’s infrastructure, it is not currently compliant with GDPR. If you operate in the EU, you may need to consider whether another analytics provider is more appropriate for your business.

    Do you have to pay for GA4?

    Google Analytics 4 is free to use. However, setting it up and optimizing it can be complicated. Some users may prefer to outsource the setup, especially if they need to implement ecommerce tracking.

    Google does offer a paid version of Google Analytics called Google Analytics 360 (GA360). Users on GA360 will also need to migrate to what is currently called the New GA360.

    Setting Up GA4

    How do I migrate from UA to GA4?

    Google provides guidance on how to add GA4 to a site running UA. Read the instructions carefully. If you are using HubSpot or Magento, scroll to the bottom for additional install information to ensure you’re capturing data properly. 

    Will GA4 automatically import my UA data?

    Data from Universal Analytics cannot be imported into Google Analytics 4. When you set up GA4, it will be a fresh install with no historical data. Because of this, I recommend setting up GA4 as soon as possible to start capturing historical data.

    Can I export my GA3 data?

    Yes, you can export your Universal Analytics data in report form or via an API. Google shares how to do this at the bottom of this article.

    Will my Google Analytics goals be automatically transferred to GA4? 

    No, Google Analytics goals from Universal Analytics will not automatically transfer to GA4. Google Analytics 4 does not report on goals in the same way that UA does. Google Analytics 4 uses events and conversion events to track and report on user actions.

    Will my saved reports be transferred to GA4?

    No, any reports you have saved will not be transferred to Google Analytics 4. You’ll need to recreate your favorite reports on the new platform. 

    Keep in mind that not all metrics tracked in UA will have an equivalent in GA4. Before creating reports, familiarize yourself with the existing reports and the metrics available in Google Analytics 4.

    Do I need to exclude internal traffic after my migration?

    Any internal traffic filters you implemented in Universal Analytics will not transfer to GA4. If you want to exclude internal traffic, you can follow these steps.

    Can I limit report access in GA4?

    Yes, you can control who can or cannot edit reports, who can see particular reports, and who can see particular metrics. Learn more about the different GA4 user roles here.

    Customizing GA4

    Can I create custom views in GA4?

    GA4 does not utilize views. You can, however, copy and edit preexisting reports and create custom reports to better analyze your data.

    Can I run GA4 and UA at the same time?

    Yes, you can run Universal Analytics and GA4 concurrently until Google deprecates UA. You can also connect Google Search Console (GSC) to each. If you have not already installed GA4, I recommend you do so to start capturing data and to familiarize yourself with the platform. Follow these steps to add GA4 to a site already running UA.

    Can I use GTM with GA4?

    Yes, you can use Google Tag Manager in Google Analytics 4. Here’s how.

    Can I connect GSC and GA4?

    Yes, you can connect Google Search Console to GA4.

    Connecting GSC to GA4 allows you to see two GSC reports in GA4: Google Organic Search Queries and Google Organic Search Traffic.

    How long does GA4 store data?

    GA4s data retention differs from that of UA and 360:

    • User-level data can be stored for a maximum of fourteen months.
    • User-keyed data is purged after two months.
    • Event-level data can be stored for two months or fourteen months
    • Google-signals data will be retained for a maximum of 26 months before being deleted.

    Learn how to change your data retention settings here.

    Can I export data from GA4?

    Google allows users to export their data to BiqQuery. This can be done once or continuously. While users are eligible for free BigQuery account, if you go over data limits, you will be charged for storage. All data exported to BigQuery is yours.

    Why doesn’t the data from GA4 match my UA data?

    Since UA and GA4 use different measurement models and metrics, if you attempt to compare the gathered data, it may not match up. 

    Rather than comparing the two, start collecting data in GA4 now so you can create new benchmarks and compare data over time within GA4.

    What reports are available in GA4?

    GA4 offers multiple collections and reports in addition to its Reports Snapshot. 

    There are two types of reports in Google Analytics 4: overview reports and detail reports. An overview report provides a visual representation of data. It serves as a summary and consists of customizable cards. A detail report houses two different visualizations (like a line graph and bar graph) and allows users to sort and filter data. 

    Available reports include:

    Realtime: Get insight into what’s happening on your website at any given moment.

    Life cycle collection 

    Acquisition: Learn how people are getting to your site and which of your campaigns is driving the most traffic. These reports break down site traffic by acquisition channel.

    • Overview: Get a summary of traffic acquisition and user engagement by channel. 
    • User acquisition: Identify where new users are coming from and which channels generate the most engagement, triggered events, conversions, or revenue. Add a filter to see these metrics for a particular landing page or add a comparison to see them side by side.
    • Traffic acquisition: See where new sessions originate, events per session, revenue per channel, and more. Add a filter to see these metrics for a particular landing page or add a comparison to see them side by side.
    • Google ads campaigns: If you’ve connected your Google Ads account to your GA4, you can see which ads drive traffic to your site.

    Engagement: Measure user behavior on your site to uncover your most effective pages.

    • Overview: See the average engagement time for visitors, the pages they visit most often, and which events they trigger.
    • Events: View the number of events users triggered on your website and the resulting revenue generated. Use filters to see events for a particular page or by traffic channel. Add a comparison to see them side by side.
    • Conversions: Identify how many conversions have occurred by event. Use filters to see conversions by landing page or traffic channel or add a comparison to see them side by side.
    • Pages and screens: See views, users, and engagement metrics for all of your pages. Use filters or search to find metrics for a particular page or add comparison to see them side by side.

    Monetization: Track revenue across your site and pinpoint your most profitable pages and channels. 

    • Overview: See your most popular items and promotions and track total revenue by source.
    • Ecommerce purchases: Track item views, add-to-carts, sales, and other product interactions. Use filters to see metrics by traffic source, landing page, and more, or add a comparison to see them side by side.
    • In-app purchases: If you have an app, you can zero in on app revenue here. Filter data and add comparisons to learn more about app revenue.
    • Publisher apps: Track revenue generated from ads in your app.

    Retention: Provides information about returning users, including engagement and lifetime value. Add a comparison to see data for a specific page or traffic channel.

    User collection

    Demographics: Learn more about the new and returning users visiting your site.

    • Demographic overview: See users by country, city, gender, language, and interests. Add a comparison to see data by channel or landing page.
    • Demographic details: Dive further into the demographic analytics and see which subset of users are the most engaged or generating the most revenue. Filter or add comparisons to see data for traffic channels or landing pages.

    Tech: See the technology visitors use to access your site.

    • Tech overview: View common devices, operating systems, and platforms by user or revenue. Add a comparison to see differences by channel or landing page.
    • Tech details: Dive further into tech analytics and customize the report with filters and comparisons to see users, events, revenue, and other metrics by traffic channel, landing page, and more.

    You can see the four reports we use the most to measure SEO performance here.

    What can you track in GA4?

    Google Analytics 4 allows you to track a variety of metrics that provide insight into app and site traffic, user engagement, and ecommerce performance. See how many engaged or new users your site or app have, which pages are the most popular, how much revenue different pages or channels are generating, and how users behave when they reach your site or app. Google shares the new metrics here.

    How many events can you have in GA4?

    Currently, GA4 allows for up to 500 unique events with 25 event parameters each.

    How many custom dimensions are allowed in GA4?

    Google Analytics 4 allows users to create two types of custom dimensions: user-scoped and event-scoped. There is a limit of 50 custom dimensions on GA4. In addition, event-scoped users are capped at 25. Google recommends users familiarize themselves with the predefined dimensions (i.e., attributes) before customizing dimensions to avoid duplicating efforts. 

    Need More Information About GA4?

    Switching to a new analytics platform can be overwhelming. I’ve gathered additional resources below to help you as you continue to learn more about Google Analytics 4.

    A quick note: even as you’re learning about GA4, I recommend you do a basic install immediately so you can start capturing data. This will allow you to create benchmarks and comparisons sooner rather than later.

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