Many businesses have been using Google Analytics for a while to track how users behave on their website. However, Google is in the process of rolling out Google Analytics 4 which will be the only option available to users by July 2023. This is a beginner’s guide to Google Analytics 4.
What is Google Analytics?
The current version of analytics is referred to as ‘Universal Analytics’. The role of this free web tool is to track user interactions and measure website traffic using a range of metrics such as the average time spent on your site, the ratio of returning users and new users, bounce rate and more.
This data can really help businesses to identify successful areas of their site as well as areas that could be improved. While the tool can’t make suggestions on how you can improve your site, if you take a look at struggling pages, it may be more simple than you think to work out what the problem is.
As well as offering in depth data on how users are acting when visiting your website, this analytics tool also provides insight into how users act before they reach your site and also after. This is so that a user journey can be established and you can work out how users are arriving at your site and visiting a specific page. Is it due to advertising on social media, Google ads or through a relevant search query? All of this data collection is extremely valuable and helps to support any marketing strategies you have in place.
You might be wondering what’s changing if Google Analytics already provides access to this important data? Well, there are some key changes you should be aware of.
What are the differences between Universal Google Analytics (UA) and Google Analytics 4 (GA4)?
A key difference between the two versions is that with GA4, there is more focus on user privacy. This is due to Google recognising changing user expectations. To achieve this, the analytics tool will no longer store user’s IP addresses.
Previously, UA has used ‘sessions’ to collate data where GA4 uses ‘events’. A ‘session’ refers to a group of interactions recorded when a user visits your website over a certain time period. In contrast, an ‘event’ can be classified as button clicks, clicks on outbound links, form submissions and any other similar acts. This comes with an array of benefits such as cross platform analysis.
This can also provide benefits for path analysis, which involves being able to select specific events such as a purchase and work out where the user visited the site from.
What are the benefits of Google Analytics 4?
Detailed user journey
There are many benefits associated with this new version of Google Analytics data collection, when compared to standard Google Analytics properties, including the ability to piece together user journeys. An example of this is when users start interacting with your site on one device and then come back to it on another. Despite it being the same visitor, using UA means you would never know this. Google Analytics 4 can help to collate this information, meaning you won’t need to spend as much on wasted advertising.
More insight into user actions
Google had previously used ‘bounce rate’ as a metric, however with GA4, more detailed and other metrics can be viewed, such as scroll time, outbound clicks and on site downloads. This allows you to gain deeper insights into your customer journey and which parts of your content strategy are performing best. Additionally, you can see where users lose interest in your content and hopefully make changes to improve your user engagement.
A simple setup
When you enter the setup area for GA4, you will be met with a much simpler design, with access to various metrics that have been pre determined, such as scrolls and downloads. Of course you have control over the metrics that you choose to track, this is just their way of making life a bit easier for you.
How does Google Analytics 4 work?
If you’ve got an existing Google Analytics account, you can easily switch to a GA4 account through the settings. This analytics tool works through the inclusion of a piece of tracking code on your website. This code can be added to all websites to allow for data collection.
What do you need to do?
Those who began using Google Analytics more recently may have been using GA4 automatically. However, for those who have been using Universal Analytics for years, Google recommends switching over to GA4 as soon as you can. Switching early means you’ve got time to get your head around the new processes before they become your only option. From the 1st of July 2023, you will only be able to view previous data, the tool will stop processing new data therefore it will become pretty useless.
If you need any help with your analytics or any aspect of your website, you can get in contact with our friendly team, we’re happy to help.