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Have you heard the news? Soon, Google’s Universal Analytics will be inaccessible. Its replacement, Google Analytics 4, is available now. As marketers, we hear questions about Google Analytics 4, or GA4, often: “What is GA4?” and “Should I use GA4?” Are the most common. In this article, we’re going to cover the big switch, the differences between the two Google Analytics properties, and why you should be upgrading to GA4 as soon as possible.

Google Announces: The Switchanalytics

Recently, Google announced that they are making a switch from using the Universal Analytics property to using only Google Analytics 4. Here are a few important dates to remember:

  • Until July 1, 2023: You can still use and collect data within Universal Analytics. After this date, you will no longer to be able to collect new data
  • For at least six months after July 1, 2023: You can access previously collected data. If you wish to keep records of this data after those 6 months, you should export historical reports so you don’t lose your data

In short, GA4 is Google’s next generation of Google Analytics, and will be replacing Universal Analytics. With GA4, you can still track your website data, view reports, and analyze various metrics to help you make informed marketing and business decisions. Just like any update, however, there are a few core differences between the two properties.

Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4: What is the Difference?

For some time, Google has been one of the go-to free services for monitoring and communicating website data to users. With this switch Google continues to offer these services, but with a new and updated version.

But first, how do you know if you are using UA currently? According to Google, if you made a Google Analytics account prior to 2020, you are likely using a UA property and will need to switch. If you want to double check which property you’re currently using, view your property ID.

A few key differences between UA and GA4 are listed below:

  • Hit types: UA features various hit types (Pages Views, Events, Socials, User timing, etc). In GA4, all hits are recorded as events.
  • Flexible data modeling: The way you model data in GA4 compared to the previous UA will look different.
  • Combined data: With GA4, you can now combine data from websites and mobile apps if you want to build reports for your entire online presence.
  • Additional measurement: GA4 can track more than UA. (i.e. instead of just pageviews, GA4 can also measure link clicks, scrolling, and more)

This list is far from complete, but covers a few basic changes you can expect to see as you learn and adapt to GA4 from your previous UA setup.

How Can You Transition?

Your transition will require a number of steps. The first step: create your GA4 account. Once this is completed, GA4 can begin tracking data. Give the property at least a month to do so. After this month, you can familiarize yourself with the new property and how it measures data compared to the layout and lingo you’re acquainted with in UA.

Your next steps require you to go back and forth between UA and GA4. You’ll need to clean up your data, set up custom tracking from your UA to the equivalent action in GA4, export any reports you want to keep from UA before your data is deleted forever, and run parallel reports to compare how the two properties track data. This will be a long learning process, but well worth it as you make the transition on your own time, instead of in a rush at the last minute.

Upgrade to GA4 Today

The best move your business can make today is make the transition to GA4. Don’t wait until it’s too late and you’re unable to access Universal Analytics and your previously recorded data. The sooner you get GA4 up and running, the sooner you can start tracking your data with this new system.

Google Analtyics has a playlist of tutorials to help walk you through the transition...

About the Author(s)

 Willie  Campos

Willie Campos is a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) and Google Analytics (GA4) Expert, Certified in Google Ads, Microsoft & Amazon Advertising and owner of Sophisticated Marketing Solutions.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising Expert, Sophisticated Marketing Solutions
Google Analytics GA4