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Google Analytics Is Updating from Universal Analytics To GA4

Here’s Navigator Multimedia’s Guide To Help You With The Switch

Google Analytics is one of the most important tools for online marketing and analyzing website performance. As the way we navigate the web changes, Google Analytics needs to adapt accordingly. On March 16th, 2022, Google announced that it will be transitioning away from Universal Analytics, which has been used by businesses for several years, to GA4 (which stands for Google Analytics 4). It also means the sunsetting of Universal Analytics and Universal Analytics 360. And it’s all happening sooner than you think.

So what does this mean for your business’s website?

To help you prepare for the switch to GA4, we’ve put together this guide about the transition to better equip your site for online success. Read on for Navigator Multimedia’s guide about the switch to GA4.

When Is Google Analytics Sunsetting Universal Analytics and Universal Analytics 360?

Google Analytics is sunsetting Universal Analytics and Universal Analytics 360 in two phases over the next year. The standard version of Universal Analytics will stop processing data on July 1, 2023. The 360 version was slated to close in October 2023 but has received an extension until July 1st, 2024

After these dates, all Universal Analytics accounts will stop processing data.

Why Is Google Analytics Getting Rid of Universal Analytics and Changing to GA4?

Google Analytics introduced GA4 in October 2020 as their newest reporting tool. GA4 was launched to provide “smarter insights” for online marketing that Universal Analytics could not. GA4 is meant to improve your ROI and help you make more informed decisions for digital marketing.

Apart from innovating data analysis, another big aspect of the GA4 switch was adapting to changing user behaviour and privacy requirements. As the industry changes to focus on the privacy of online users, Google Analytics developed GA4 to help transition and prepare for the changing landscape of online data collection. 

This switch both helps to ensure the protection of user privacy, and to help business owners, web developers and digital marketers avoid gaps in their data collection with the growing restrictions around cookies and user identifiers. Always looking to what’s next, the GA4 switch is to help online businesses prepare for the future of online data collection.

A pair of hands holds up a tablet and scrolls through an online store with a laptop behind them, displaying the changes in user behaviour that Google Analytics is trying to address with GA4.
Photo by Taras Shypka on Unsplash

Can I Still Use Universal Analytics After The Change For My Website And Reporting?

Unfortunately, the discontinuation of Universal Analytics means that you will no longer be able to collect new data in those types of Google Analytics accounts starting on July 1st, 2023 (and July 1st, 2024 for 360 accounts).

This means that if you want to continue to collect data for your website or business, you will need to switch to GA4 before then. And the sooner the better. Getting as much data as you can into your new GA4 account will help you build historical data for a more accurate look at how you are performing online.

While you won’t be able to collect new data, Universal Analytics will still be operational to view past data for 6 months after it sunsets. It is highly encouraged by Google Analytics to export your data and make the switch to GA4 as soon as possible to avoid data gaps.

How Do I Switch From Universal Analytics to GA4?

Now that you have a few more details on the when and why it’s time to give you some brief instructions on how to switch to GA4.

Before we provide some general instructions and tips, we need to stress how important it is to do it right. Implementing your new tag onto the site incorrectly can break sites and styling, and will result in the loss of data. If your site does not have a dedicated plugin, you will have to add the Google Analytics code to your site’s header code. This is where you can make mistakes by adding it into the wrong place, deleting important code, or interfering with other code important to your site’s structure.

If you are not familiar with coding or don’t have a dedicated plugin for adding Google Analytics code to your site, we strongly recommend contacting Navigator Multimedia to help you switch your site over to GA4 to avoid breakage and loss of data.

If you are confident in your abilities to add the code yourself, here are some brief instructions on how to do this (with more detailed instructions from Google Analytics found here)*:

  1. Log in to your Google Analytics account.
  2. Navigate to your Admin Settings, represented by a gear symbol. 
  3. In your Admin Settings under the Property Tab, select “GA4 Setup Assistant” 
  4. Under “I want to create a new Google Analytics 4 property” select “Get Started”, then select “Create and Continue”. This will create a GA4 account based on your existing Universal Analytics account.
  5. Select “Install a Google tag” if you’d like to use a new code tag, or select “Use a tag you already have” if you’d like to use an existing tag. Then select “Next”.
  6. This next step is where you add your Google code to your website. Select “Install with a website builder or CMS” to then scan your site for instructions based on your plugins. Or you can select “Install Manually” to copy the provided code and paste it onto your site. As for where you’ll paste it, this will depend on if you have a plugin installed. If you have a plugin, such as Chimera, you can paste this in a “Header” section (this varies depending on the plugin). If you don’t, you would paste the code immediately after the <head> snippet in your site’s code. Again – if you are feeling unsure about installing the GA4 tag code onto your site, please contact Navigator Multimedia for help.
  7. Once you have the code on the site, you can check the connection and see if data is streaming in. Go to “Reports” → “Realtime” and have your site open in a separate tab or window to see if Google Analytics detects your activity on the site. This may take a couple of minutes to display.
  8. Once you have confirmed your data is streaming in, your GA4 account is all set!

Can Navigator Multimedia Help Me Transition To GA4?

The Navigator Multimedia team having a meeting in the office boardroom, ready to help our clients succeed with graphic design, web development, online marketing, and general digital marketing support..
Consult with Navigator Multimedia for your digital marketing needs, including switching to GA4.

Despite Google Analytics trying to make the transition as simple as possible, we understand that this is new territory for many businesses. We’re here to help. 

As expert digital marketers with plenty of experience working with Google Analytics and setting up GA4 for clients, we’re offering a discounted rate to switch your analytics over to GA4. This service includes setting up your GA4 account, installing the new code onto your site and testing your data streams, and transferring over your Universal Analytics settings to your new account. This service takes on average approximately 2 hours to complete, but we are offering it for 50% off our hourly rate to help make the transition easier for you.

If you have questions or need help with switching your site’s analytics to GA4 before July 1st, contact us today.

* Warning: Deciding to follow these instructions is done at your own risk. Navigator Multimedia is not responsible for loss of data or site breakage if the instructions provided are followed incorrectly or your GA4 tag is not installed correctly. To ensure your site avoids breakage and that there is no loss of data, we recommend consulting with Navigator Multimedia for all steps.

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