Digital Marketing

Preparing for the Latest Version of Google Analytics

Brandon Schmidt | May 27, 2022

In 2023, Google is changing how you measure traffic on your website. See what YDOP is doing to make sure you don’t lose data and can keep measuring your website’s performance.

Introducing Google Analytics 4

Announced in 2021, Google Analytics 4 (or GA4) is the latest version of Google’s free analytics platform that we use on all client websites. This updated platform is incredibly powerful and capable of enhanced analytics, measuring leads, and creating remarketing audiences. Our paid advertising team is excited about what GA4 allows us to do in terms of measuring the effectiveness of your digital marketing efforts.

With the rollout of GA4, Google is sunsetting the current version of Analytics. Earlier this spring, Google announced that the current version of Analytics (called Universal Analytics) will stop recording data on July 1, 2023. Google seems to indicate that you will still have access to historical data after this date; only it won’t be recording new data.

Here are the 3 things we are most excited about with GA4:

  • Improved Tracking of Customer Journey – GA4 is better designed to measure people across multiple website visits. We will be able to better attribute how your paid ads, social media, email, and SEO are driving business growth.
  • Replacing Bounce Rate – Bounce rate is a commonly-cited metric in Universal Analytics that measures if people interact with a page. It has always been limited in what it can measure and overall not a helpful metric in measuring engagement. With GA4, bounce rate is replaced with Engaged Sessions, which better measures if people read and interact with the content on a page before leaving.
  • Greater Measuring of Events & Conversions – Thanks to GA4, we will be able to better measure how people are interacting with your website and what behavior is leading to conversions like phone calls or booked appointments.

How This Change Impacts You

The move from Universal Analytics to GA4 poses two challenges for website owners:

  1. Without implementing GA4, you would no longer be able to measure website performance starting in July 2023.
  2. Due to differences in how Universal Analytics and GA4 record data, you won’t be able to compare current data with historical data across the two platforms.

Fortunately for you, YDOP has spent nearly a year planning for this update. Here’s how we are mitigating the impact of this transition and helping you get better tools to measure your performance.

google analytics 4

We’ve Already Started Implementing GA4

When Google announced GA4 in 2021, our team dove right in, learning the basics of implementing and using the system for our reporting. Once we were comfortable with the system, we implemented GA4 on most of the websites we manage.

That’s right, your website has been running GA4 for the last 12 months, running in parallel with the current version of Analytics. This does not have an impact on site speed nor affect the performance of Universal Analytics. However, it does mean that we already have a head start on gathering historical data. By July 2023, we will have nearly 2 years of historical data within GA4 for most of our clients.

In some rare cases where we do not manage your website or your website platform does not yet support GA4, we will work with you to find a solution in the next few months.

If you are not a YDOP client and you are unsure if your marketing partner is ready for the GA4 transition, give us a call. Remember, if you rely on comparing year-over-year data (a must for any seasonal business), you need to be running GA4 by June 2022 to maintain 12 months of historical data.

Next Steps in Switching to GA4

As of this writing, we are about 13 months away from the deadline to transition from Universal Analytics to GA4. Since we already have started running and collecting data on GA4, the next step is to start using it in our reporting.

To include GA4 in your Google Data Studio (GDS) dashboard requires us to overhaul and adapt the current system – due to the differences in how GA4 and Universal Analytics handle data.

google analytics 4

Our team is currently working on these updates and hope to roll them out to client-facing dashboards in Q4 2022. That way you and your Account Manager can start using them for annual strategy meetings and monthly/quarterly meetings. Don’t worry, we will also keep the existing GDS dashboards live so you can access the historical data in them.

Timeline for GA4 Rollout

Here’s a glimpse at the timeline we are following to fully roll out GA4 to you:

Already Happened:

  • Gaining Expertise – Since GA4 was announced, we have been learning all we can about this new system, how it measures data, and how to implement the system.
  • Using GA4 – Last year we implemented GA4 tracking code on nearly all the websites we manage. This means we likely already have 12 months of data within GA4. So when we start using GA4 in our reports and dashboards, you’ll have plenty of historical data to rely on.

In Progress:

  • Fine Tuning Conversions – One of the best benefits of GA4 is its flexibility in measuring and tracking behaviors on your website.
  • Rebuilding GDS Reports – Since we are dealing with new data sets, the GDS dashboards that your Account Manager or Paid Team member uses on calls must be rebuilt. We will redesign these and roll them out on client calls over the next 6-8 months.

Future Steps:

  • Client Training – Once we have the new reports rolled out, we will provide training to any client who wants to go deeper into GA4.

Common Questions

Why is Google switching to GA4?

Google Analytics is a free service they provide to website owners to measure their website performance; in exchange, Analytics likely helps Google monitor user behavior and may be used to improve their search platform.

GA4 is designed to better measure users across platforms (including applications) and devices.

Will I lose any data in the switch to GA4?

No, you will not lose any historical data during this switch. The current version of Analytics will stop recording new data on July 1, 2023, but all historical data will still be accessible.

Most YDOP clients already have close to 12+ months of data within GA4; by the time July 2023 rolls around, you will have nearly 2 years worth of data within GA4.

Will GA4 integrate with specific software or application I use?

Hopefully. Google announced GA4 in 2021 and since then, software & application developers have been working hard to integrate it into their platforms. Unfortunately, adding GA4 is not an easy update.

Most software that YDOP uses and recommends has already added GA4 support or are in the process of adding support. If you use any chat software, scheduling app, online builder, or CRM system, you will want to see if they have plans to support GA4. If you are uncertain, ask your Account Manager and the YDOP team can look on your behalf.

I’m not a YDOP client. How do I know if my marketing partner has a GA4 strategy?

Even though Google gave the marketing community a few years’ head start, this transition is going to catch some agencies and marketing consultants by surprise.

Ask your marketing partner what their plan is for transitioning to GA4. Make sure they start collecting data in GA4 immediately so you can have at least 12 months of data by July 2023.

Unsure if your marketing partner is prepared for GA4? Give us a call and we can help you understand your options.