The Sunsetting of Universal Analytics and the Rise of GA4

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Partner & Chief Creative Officer
May 31, 2023

Are you aware that Google is sunsetting Universal Analytics in July 2023? Google Analytics is constantly evolving to meet the needs of digital marketers and website owners. The latest version, Google Analytics 4 (GA4), is a major update that introduces a number of new features and changes. UA will be replaced by GA4 as the primary Google Analytics platform. This change will have implications for SEO and marketing teams who use Google Analytics to track website traffic and performance. In this blog post, we'll explore the sunsetting of UA and the rise of GA4, and what it means for digital marketers.

In 2015, Google announced Universal Analytics (aka Google Analytics), which was a complete overhaul to the way website data was collected and processed. Since then, it has become the most widely used version of the tool. However, Google has announced that Universal Analytics will be sunsetted in July 2023 and all users will need to upgrade to GA4 sooner rather than later.

While there are many benefits to GA4, one of the most significant is its improved data collection. GA4 uses a machine learning algorithm to automatically collect data from a variety of sources - including websites, apps, and IoT devices - and process it into insights that can be used to improve marketing campaigns and SEO efforts. This is a major improvement over Universal Analytics, which required manual data collection and processing.

Migration to GA4 may seem like a daunting task, but Google has provided a guide to help the users easily make the transition. And, once you're on GA4, you'll have access to all of its powerful features - making it well worth the effort.

What makes GA4 unique?

So what's different about GA4? For one, GA4 is built on top of Google's BigQuery data warehouse, which offers a lot more flexibility and power than UA. Additionally, GA4 introduces a number of new features that should be very helpful for marketers, such as:

- Enhanced data collection: GA4 can automatically collect a lot more data than UA, making it easier to get a complete picture of your marketing efforts.

- Machine learning: GA4 uses machine learning to automatically surface insights and recommendations.

- Ecommerce tracking: GA4 makes it much easier to track e-commerce transactions and conversions.

There are a few more key upgrades between Universal Analytics and GA4. First, GA4 uses a new data model that allows for more granular data analysis. Second, it offers new features such as the ability to create custom reports and audiences. Finally, GA4 integrates with other Google products more seamlessly than Universal Analytics.

Universal Analytics was designed for traditional web analytics, while GA4 is focused on mobile and app analytics. As such, GA4 has some features that Universal Analytics does not, such as the ability to track custom events and user engagement.

Marketeers should use this time to think about and configure events and conversions which are the new Google metrics.  

  • Events are any action taken by the user that signifies intent, or purposeful interaction with your domain.
  • Conversions are any action taken that results in direct connection to your domain through either a phone call or a form completion that includes contact information.

Basically, conversions are events but not all events are conversions. Every interaction on a site is logged as an event in GA4, including pageviews and scroll depth. You can set up any event as a conversion if you want.

What does this mean for SEO and marketing?

We asked one of our Digital Marketing leads, Adam Gangl, about how GA4 will be advantageous to businesses in the future. “GA4 provides a deeper understanding of how users are interacting with a website, allowing for better testing, customization, and understanding of every element of the website, not just pages. The technical perspective is significantly different from UA, being that GA4 detects how far down a user is scrolling, if they interact with videos, downloaded pdfs, and more.”

Another interesting feature that Senior Marketing Lead, Lisa Grimm, has found fascinating is that GA4 is complementary to Google Tag Manager. “Google has also introduced Looker Studio (formerly Google Data Studio), a data visualization tool which aggregates the Google Suite (GA4, Google Tag Manager, Google Search Console and Google Ads) into a real time easy to read dashboard. In addition, Looker Studio can integrate with over 600 other tools so you can track your website performance along with ads, SEO, email marketing, social media, and more.”

As we bid farewell to Universal Analytics, we welcome GA4 with open arms. This next generation of Google Analytics is sure to revolutionize the world of SEO and marketing as we know it. We can't wait to see what the future holds for GA4!

Interested in what GA4 has in store for your company marketing and SEO? Contact us today so we can help you enter the new world of analytics!

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