A new Google Analytics is coming to town, and it’s time to get ready! This new Analytics will replace the good old Universal Analytics on the 1st of July, 2023. So if you haven’t started with Google Analytics 4 yet, don’t put it off any longer. Because from July on, your Universal Analytics will no longer process any new data. You will have to have your new analytics set up to make sure you keep collecting data! In this post, we’ll tell you more about what you can expect from Google Analytics 4 and how to prepare for it.
Why set up your Google Analytics 4 now?
A few years ago, Google first mentioned Google Analytics 4. The reason for creating this new type of analytics is the complexity of collecting and analyzing data. People’s online journeys are becoming more intricate (and spread over several platforms or devices). In addition, privacy is becoming increasingly important in how you collect data.
It’s good to know this new property can happily coexist with your current Analytics property. Getting started with Google Analytics 4 doesn’t mean you won’t be able to use your Universal Analytics anymore. This property will continue to function and collect data until the data we mentioned above. But from that date on, you will have to make the switch, so let’s dive into what this new version of Analytics (formerly known as “App + Web”) entails.
As we mentioned, you can use Universal Analytics until July 1, 2023. From that day on, it will no longer process any data. But that doesn’t mean you should wait until that date to create your new Google Analytics 4 property. We strongly advise you to create it now to ensure your property is set up in time. Ideally, you would have set it up months ago. This will also allow you to start collecting data on your new property. The earlier you start, the more historical data you have to give you context when making decisions regarding your website.
What to expect from Google Analytics 4
Google calls this “the next generation of Google Analytics”. On their help center page, they name a few advantages over Universal Analytics:
- It’s durable for the future and privacy-focused
- It uses machine learning to get you insights into customer journeys across platforms and devices
- It has enhanced integrations with Google’s advertising platform to optimize campaign performance
However, it is good to know that this newest version of analytics seems to have been built with data analysts in mind. Where Universal Analytics was a tool for marketers, this new generation seems more difficult for the average user. Ecommerce expert Luke Carthy did an interesting talk on Google Analytics 4 during YoastCon 2023, in which he also explained how to make it work for marketers:
Interested in hearing the rest of what Luke says? Go to Yoast SEO academy and watch his talk on Using GA4 to boost ecommerce conversions. You can find ten more talks by SEO experts we invited to YoastCon there. If you don’t have an account yet, you can sign up for free to watch these videos and check out our other courses!
How to prepare yourself…
There’s no way around it; Universal Analytics is being replaced by Google Analytics 4. Google encourages people to set up this new property (alongside your current one) as soon as possible. So how can you prepare yourself? We’ll discuss setting it up when you’re already using Analytics. But also how to set it up when you’re not using Analytics yet.
When you’re already using Analytics
The very first step is to create a Google Analytics 4 property for your website. This can be done from your Google Analytics account. Setting up this new property doesn’t mean losing access to your analytics setup. This setup will remain the same and functional. The new property will collect data next to your existing property; you can access them both.
To help you set up your new property, Google has introduced a GA4 Setup Assistant wizard. You must have an editor role on your Google Analytics account to use this wizard. The steps to get to this wizard are thoroughly described on Google’s page on how to add a Google Analytics 4 property (to a site that already has Analytics).
When you’ve created your new property, there are a few more things you can do to ensure you’re getting the most out of it. This new version is focused on giving you more insight into the complex customer journey and improving your marketing efforts. Google’s page on how to switch to Google Analytics 4 gives a great overview of what you can do to properly set up Google Analytics 4. If you want to learn even more, you can take their Skillshop Course to discover what’s new with Google Analytics.
When you’re new to Analytics
If you aren’t using Analytics, you must start by setting up an account. Go to google.com/analytics and click ‘Get started today’. When logged in, you can go to Admin (the cogwheel in the bottom left corner) and click the blue button ‘Create Account’ in the top left corner. You must set an account name and decide on what data you want to share with other Google services.
After that, you click ‘Next’ and add a property to your new account. Google explains how to do this on their page on setting up Analytics for a website and/or app. After you’ve set up your new account and property, you can start getting familiar with Analytics and dive into the data to get more insights into your site visitors and their behavior. Of course, it can be overwhelming at first. But you can find loads of information and training in Google’s training and support section.
Now is the time to add a GA4 property to your account. This helps you get used to this new way of analyzing your data, and it comes with new features that give you more insight into your audience and the performance of your marketing campaigns. Adding this new Analytics property won’t change anything in your current Analytics setup; you can use and view both properties until July 2023. After that, your old property won’t process any new data, and you will have to switch to Google Analytics 4. So start immediately and get the most out of this new version of Google Analytics!