The way you collect data from your website is about to change!
Back in March of 2022, Google announced that it would be sunsetting Universal Analytics from July of 2023. That means business owners and web managers who’ve been using Google Analytics to collect data need to migrate to the new version: Google Analytics 4.
Setting up Google Analytics 4 is pretty straightforward, but there are a few steps involved, especially if you need to replicate the tags you’ve been tracking through Google Tag Manager.
To help out, we’re going to go over how to set up Google Analytics 4 in a little more detail so that you’re ready for July 2023!
What is Google Analytics 4?
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is Google’s new Analytics platform. It’s replacing the older Universal Analytics (UA) that has been in use for years.
Just like UA, GA4 collects data from your website, such as web traffic, form submissions, conversions and other types of engagement. That data can be a powerful tool for people looking optimise their websites, run SEO or Google Ads campaigns, and keep track of what their site visitors are doing.
The major difference between UA and GA4 is the way they collect data. Universal Analytics captures data as “sessions,” with each session being made up of one or more interactions (called “hits”). GA4 takes the opposite approach, doing away with sessions and collecting data on every user interaction as “events”. This might sound like a small change, but it has major implications for the way we track data, and it means GA4 can collect heaps of information that UA simply couldn’t.
How to Set Up Google Analytics 4
This guide only applies if you have a website that’s already using Google Analytics. If you don’t have an Analytics account, or if you’re creating a new website, the Analytics set up will automatically guide you through setting up GA4.
If you’ve got an existing website and Analytics account, here are the step-by-step instructions for setting up Google Analytics 4!
Step 1. Let’s get started by logging into your Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager accounts. You’ll need to have both of these open in their own tabs to set up GA4 and create the on-page events you want to track:
Step 2. Head to Google Analytics first.
In the top left hand corner of the Analytics site, click on the dropdown menu to select the website you’re setting up GA4 for. If you only have one website then it will already be selected.
Select your website and you’ll see the following:
There’s a 9 digit code in the ‘Properties & Apps’ column. This ‘UA-12345678-1’ code is the Universal Analytics property. We need to set up a new GA4 property in its place.
Step 3. To create your GA4 property, click on the ‘Admin’ cog icon in the bottom left corner to go to the account settings screen. In the ‘Property’ column in the middle, we want to click on the ‘+Create Property’ button:
Step 4. In the property set up screen you can name the account and update the time zone and currency to your location. To keep things simple it’s a good idea to give the property your company name and then add ‘GA4’ to differentiate it. Click ‘Next’ when you’re ready:
Step 5. On the next screen you just need to choose the information that applies to your business. Click the ‘Create’ button to continue:
Step 6. You now need to set up a data stream and choose where to collect data from. For most of us that means collecting website data, so you can select ‘Web’ as your platform. If you have an Apple or Android app then you’ll also be able to set up separate GA4 properties to collect data from those:
Step 7. Add your website to continue setting up the stream. You need to include the full web address and ensure that the setting on the left reads ‘https://’. You’ll also need to name your stream. Keep it simple and call it something like ‘Company Website’. Click ‘Create Stream’ when you’re ready:
Step 8. From this screen we need the 11-character ‘Measurement ID’ that’s on the right. Click the ‘Copy’ button beside the code to add it to your clipboard:
Step 9. Now switch to your Google Tag Manager tab and click on ‘Tags’ in the menu on the left hand side of the screen:
Step 10. In the Tags screen, click on the ‘New’ button in the top right corner of the panel. The next screen gives you the option to choose ‘Tag Configuration’ or ‘Triggering’. Select ‘Tag Configuration’ and you’ll come to screen that looks like this:
In the right hand pane, select ‘Google Analytics: GA4 Configuration’.
Here, you’ll need to add the Measurement ID you copied earlier. With your Measurement ID entered, you can click on the lower ‘Triggering’ pane to change the trigger. Select the ‘All Pages’ option on the trigger pane so that GA4 is configured to record data any time a visitor is on your website:
Hit the save button. You’ll have a chance to rename your tag if you’d like to do so.
Step 11. At this point you need to hit the ‘Submit’ button at the top right of Google Tag Manager and Publish your changes to send them live. Simply saving your new tag won’t activate the code – it has to be Published before it can begin collecting data.
Congratulations! You’ve now installed the base code of GA4 on your website.
What Happens Next?
Google Analytics 4 is now installed on your website, but your work isn’t quite done. GA4 collects lots of data as-is. That makes it a useful tool for business owners, web managers and digital marketing agencies. But if you want to dig a little deeper, you’ll need to set up tags that can take advantage of GA4’s most powerful feature: Custom Events.
GA4’s Custom Events allow you to track hundreds of different kinds of interactions on your website, from page views and scroll depth to specific button clicks, form submissions and much more. Custom Events are designed to allow you to collect data on everything that happens on your website, and they’re much more versatile than the functions found on Universal Analytics.
We’ll go over how to set up tags and Custom Events in Part 2 of this article.
Get Ready for Google Analytics 4 with Help From Gordon Digital!
We know there are a few steps to getting GA4 set up on your website. But, with Universal Analytics being turned off from mid 2023, it’s something you should get done sooner rather than later. If you start collecting GA4 data now then you’ll have a full year of website data at your fingertips before UA stops collecting information altogether.
If you’ve been thinking about setting up Analytics but aren’t sure you want to tackle it yourself, the Gordon Digital team would love to help! We’ve made the switch to GA4 and we’re happy to get it set up on your website too. Get in touch with us today to have a conversation with our team – we’re always ready to offer the digital marketing advice you need!