When setting up Google Analytics for this website, I realized the new version is rolling out by 2023. I initially started with Universal Analytics (UA), but decided to switch over to Google Analytics 4 (GA4). While being a Google Analytics novice, here are some of the items I’ve learned on the new version.
Google Analytics 4 – New and Improved
After watching a video on LinkedIn Learning, these are a few of the major updates on this release. First of all, it is completely event driven. Instead of page views and custom events, everything is treated as an event. Secondly, they also implemented automatic tracking with enhanced measurements. Previously with UA, it only tracked page views upon initial set up. With GA4, it combines scrolling, outbound clicks, on-site search tracking, video tracking and file downloads, without additional set up. Next, they added cross-device tracking which employs Google Signals to determine device and that it’s a single user by ID.
Additional features listed below are:
- Sessions being more robust – UA would consider a session crossing over midnight as two sessions. GA4 classifies that as the same session.
- Improved funnels and pathing – Provides better representation of events happening on the site.
- More flexible conversion goals
- Ability to export all data to the cloud
- Comparisons allow you to compare different data points, location, etc.
Google Analytics Interface and Structure
The structure appears to still be similar to UA. There isn’t a big overhaul happening on accessibility in the account setup.
- Overall Google Account – Access to all the Google Services
- GA4 Account – Several entities can live under this one account, i.e. company site and personal site
- Property – For each site or platform, i.e. website data, mobile app data, combined app and web, etc.
- Stream – Coming from different sources, i.e. iOS apps, Android apps, web stream apps, etc.
Can we use GA4 now?
Short answer, yes. It’s still under active development and might be missing some features. One could also use both simultaneously until all features are available. And the best news, they aren’t shutting down the UA accounts anytime soon. Below are some features coming soon:
- Views have been replaced with data streams
- Integration with other tools
- Built-in tools for page load and site load times / performance analysis
- Automatic rollup properties – can utilize a single tag
- E-commerce specific features
While learning web development, I also wanted to have a solid understanding of Google Analytics. They all work together when developing sites. I look forward to continuing this knowledge as more features become available.
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