Since its start, Google has been on a mission to organize information and make it more accessible. The company’s drive and ambition have helped them become a global leader in search engine results and data analytics, and their success can be largely attributed to Google Analytics.
In the past, Google has provided users with various Google Analytics (GA) tools, such as GA 1, 2 (Classic Google Analytics), 3 (Universal Analytics), and 4. Each platform has its own benefits and limitations, but most agree that each update has more finesse and organizational capabilities than the last.
In October 2020, Google released its latest analytics service, GA4. Since then, users have been able to choose whether they want to stick with past versions — Universal Analytics (UA) — or upgrade to GA4. However, by July 1, 2023, users will need to upgrade to GA4, as Google will stop processing GA3 and UA hits.
If you currently use UA and are wondering what GA4 is, this article can help you understand the benefits of GA4 and why switching over will be beneficial.
Google Analytics: Each Generation Is Better Than the Last
GA4 is the height of data analytics, and it has been a journey getting to this version. Before we delve into GA4 and help you decide whether you should switch to GA4, let’s go over how we got here and what changes happened between versions of GA.
The following is the brief yet robust historical timeline of Google Analytics:
- 2005: Google first acquired Urchin in 2005. Urchin, considered GA1, was Google’s first analytic software. Urchin initially provided hosting and website development. After Google purchased Urchin, it continued to be used for its main operational functions. GA1 soon became one of the most popular website traffic analysis websites.
- 2007: With 2007 came the era of Classic Google Analytics, or GA2. Version 2 had two separate rollouts, synchronous and asynchronous, in 2007 and 2009, respectively. At this point, Google began encouraging users to update to GA2 even though the original GA1/Urchin program was still in use. GA2 brought users several benefits, such as increased tracking functionality and excellent readability. Additional improvements came with the 2009 updates, including webpage loading speeds, accuracy, and data collection. This winning formula yielded increased productivity and performance overall.
- 2012: Google unveiled GA3 — or Universal Analytics. GA3 had two separate releases: Google Analytics Tag in 2012 and Global Site Tag in 2017. Google Analytics continued to go beyond what analytics software had done before. By 2016, Classic Google Analytics and UA had merged. This merger provided even more in-depth tracking information and user behavior data. UA also brought another significant improvement to users in the form of a User ID. This new User ID allowed the UA user to track website visitors across different devices, including mobile, tablets, and laptops.
- 2020: GA4 was released, allowing for more traffic measurement and engagement across sites. This release includes customizable event tracking, combined web and mobile analytics, enhanced time-based measurements, and an evolved debugging feature. Additional user interface (UI) updates were also incorporated.
GA4 Benefits and Improvements
There’s a difference between the benefits of Universal Analytics and those of GA4. To sum it up, GA4 enables streamlined efficiency and excellent data analysis capabilities. In previous Google Analytics generations, you needed a combination of platforms to check web and app performance. GA4 now streamlines these platforms in one easy-to-use location.
Additionally, GA4 will provide the following functions:
- Allow users to use BigQuery tasks for free; in the past, this feature was only available for Google Analytics 360 subscribers who paid for the service.
- Move from session to event-based, enabling users to gain more insight into analytics and be more user-centric.
- Prioritize privacy; users will now have even more control over the personal data that is stored and collected.
- Track capabilities across various platforms and devices.
- Utilize a debugging view with the ability to receive data in real-time.
So far, GA4 has been well-received and just as popular as its predecessors. The combination of web and mobile analytics, enhanced event tracking, and time-based actions make it more customizable. It’s also better suited to predict user behavior in the future.
GA4 will give you a more comprehensive view of what’s going on behind the scenes of your website. With this information, you can know which areas of your marketing campaign are working and where you can improve. This platform is easy to use and offers a more comprehensive range of services.
GA4 is getting closer to taking over, but you still have until June 2023 before prior versions of UA expire. If you’re still using UA, now is an excellent time to start using GA4 concurrently and get the hang of it. You’ll be ready to make the switch after familiarizing yourself with the new layout, UI changes, and enhanced measurement capabilities.
GA4 Will Help Your Brand, Company, and Online Presence
In sum, using analytic software will provide invaluable insights into what web readers are doing on your website. You’ll be able to track visitors across platforms and see which online pages are catching their interest. If you have pages with high bounce rates, you’ll be able to track that as well.
By analyzing this data, you’ll see what trends and website adjustments are working. You will also enjoy better visibility into patterns in website visitor behavior, and with this information, you may be able to more effectively forecast for the future. Remember that having access to more data than before is great, but only if you take the time to review it and strategize accordingly.
Bolster your online presence, increase sales, and attract more website visitors with the right analytics software in place.
How to Get Started With GA4
If you’ve been asking yourself if you should switch to GA4, the answer is yes — and soon, you won’t have a choice. While you don’t have to make the switch right away, you need to prepare for when Google discontinues UA. The best way to prepare is to start using it now. The sooner you make the transition, the more data you will have at your disposal when UA is officially retired. Without migrating your data and information over now, you’ll be starting with a blank slate on GA4 in June 2023.
How to Ensure a Smooth Transition From UA to GA4
It might seem like you have a daunting road ahead, but you don’t need to stress about the change if you start preparing now. Here are a couple of ways you can get your company ready to start using GA4.
Review Google’s Resources
While GA4 brings new data analysis features, starting with GA4 doesn’t have to be a stressful ordeal; Google has provided a number of resources to help you make the switch more seamless. It’s essential to go through them and ensure you have the right apps downloaded and the correct permissions set as you migrate to GA4.
Work With a Digital Marketing Agency
Another way you can make the transition run smoothly is by working with a digital marketing agency. An agency understands these platforms and updates. With their help, you can plan ahead for the GA4 migration and ensure your data is safely and securely transferred.
Digital marketing and search engine optimization agencies can also help when it comes to reading and interpreting the data from your website. You can make a plan for your website’s future by switching to GA4. This is just one of the ways you can begin to create greater recognition, growth, and success for your business online.
As you learn more about the benefits of GA4 and go over the details of Universal Analytics vs. GA4, consider partnering with Avalaunch Media. We are your ally in the digital marketing industry, and our goal is to help you launch your brand. Through a careful combination of performance marketing services, we can help you work toward your goals — and getting your website analytics converted to GA4 is a vital step. Contact us today to learn more and to see how high we can launch your business.