We are now less than three months away from the big Google Analytics switch from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4. If you haven’t already updated the Analytics code on your website, now is the time to do it, because Universal Analytics will stop processing data entirely on July 1.
What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is one of the most popular free analytics tools for collecting data about how many users visit your website and what they do there: which pages they visit, how long they stay, what browsers and devices they use to view your content, and how they get to your website, among many other things. It works by adding a tracking code to each page of your website, which then tracks user behavior whenever they visit one of your pages.
Why do I need it?
The kind of data that Google Analytics collects is vital for anybody wanting to know how people are actually using their website and how effective your website is at meeting your goals for it. It’s one of the pieces of technology that we recommend to all our clients. (For a more detailed beginner’s guide, check out this Semrush article: The Beginner’s Definitive Guide to Google Analytics.)
When do I need to switch?
As soon as possible, to ensure that you aren’t losing any data!
If you need assistance with the update, just give us a shout. We’ve already upgraded the GA accounts for several of our clients and we’d be happy to make sure your account is ready for the switch as well!
Remember, you’ve only got until July 1.
If you’ve logged into your Google Analytics dashboard in the past couple of days, you may have seen the following message at the top of the page:
“Universal Analytics will no longer process new data in standard properties beginning July 1, 2023. Prepare now by setting up and switching over to a Google Analytics 4 property.”
Universal Analytics will still collect data for another year and a half, but after July 1, 2023, it will stop tracking new data and you’ll only be able to access historical reports. At this moment, Google doesn’t have an exact timeline for when Universal Analytics properties will no longer be available, but their support article says you’ll still be able to access your data for at least six months.
It’s understandable why they’re making the switch: Universal Analytics was built around tracking data for an Internet where we accessed content primarily via desktop browser. With the rise of apps, that kind of tracking just wasn’t working anymore. Not to mention, as privacy issues have become more of a talking point in recent years, Google’s aiming to deal with those concerns by, for example, no longer storing IP address with GA4.
So what does that mean for those of us who have been using Universal Analytics for years?
It means it’s time to bite the bullet and shift over to using Google Analytics 4.
Will my Universal Analytics data import into my new GA4 account?
It doesn’t look like it. Given the significant differences in how they collect data, it’s probably not feasible to import years of old Universal Analytics data into the new GA4 setup. You can, however, export your Universal Analytics data, and you’ll be able to access and export reports that even after Universal Analytics stops collecting new data in 2023 for at least six months.
When do I need to make the update?
The sooner, the better. Google is encouraging people to made the switch to GA4 as soon as possible in order to minimize disruptions in your analytics tracking and build continuity before you have to make the shift. It will also give you plenty of time to get accustomed to the new interface.
How do I set up Google Analytics 4?
If you’re already using Universal Analytics, log into your Analytics account and click the “Admin” gear at the bottom of the page. Under your property, there should be a G4 Setup Assistant. Click that and walk through the steps to hook your current Universal Analytics into a new G4 property.
If your site already had the gtag.js version of Analytics, you should see an option that says “Enable data collection using your existing tags.” Click that during your setup, and the new G4 property can use your current tag setup.
However, if you have the old analytics.js code installed, you’ll need to add tracking code for the G4 analytics separately. The two will continue tracking side-by-side until you either remove the UA code or until Universal Analytics stops tracking data next year.
If you need more in-depth answers, Google has a migration guide that walks you through the full setup.
Need Help Switching to Google Analytics 4?
If you need some help making the switch, just give us a call at 918-518-5907 or fill out the form below. We’ll help you get set up so your analytics continues running smoothly in the months to come.