Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the latest version of Google Analytics, and it offers many significant upgrades and changes over its predecessor, Universal Analytics (UA). GA4 is designed to be more privacy-focused, more flexible, and more predictive than UA.
Why Small Businesses Need to Update to Google Analytics 4
- Privacy-focused: GA4 is designed to be more privacy-focused than UA. This means that it collects less user data and does not use third-party cookies. This is important for small businesses because it helps them to comply with data privacy regulations.
- Flexible: GA4 is more flexible than UA. It can be used to track data from various sources, including websites, apps, and offline data. This makes it a more comprehensive tool for measuring the performance of small businesses.
- Predictive: GA4 is more predictive than UA. It uses machine learning to identify data patterns and predict future behavior. This can help small businesses to make better decisions about their marketing and advertising campaigns.
- Free: GA4 is free to use. This makes it an affordable option for small businesses.
Aside from the above benefits to updating to Google Analytics 4, the reality is you don’t really have a choice. Google is sunsetting UA in roughly three weeks, on July 1, 2023.
This means that after that date, UA will no longer collect new data. If you are currently using UA, you must migrate to GA4 by that date to continue collecting data.
The Downsides to Google Analytics 4
A few features will not be migrated from UA to GA4, so if you or your business relies on any of these metrics or reports, you should be aware that they will no longer be available. These features include:
- Custom dimensions and metrics: Custom dimensions and metrics are custom data points that you can create to track specific aspects of your website or app. These features will not be migrated to GA4, but you can create equivalent custom events in GA4.
- Demographics and interests reports: Demographics and interests reports provide information about the demographics and interests of your website or app users. These reports will not be migrated to GA4, but you can use the Audiences feature in GA4 to get similar information.
- Attribution modeling: Attribution modeling is a way to measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. Universal Analytics offers a number of attribution models, but these models will not be migrated to GA4. However, you can use the Attribution feature in GA4 to create your own attribution models.
Realtime Traffic Data in Universal Analytics
UA realtime traffic data is updated every minute. This means you can see how many users are on your website or app right now, what pages they view, and where they are coming from. This data can be very helpful for troubleshooting problems, identifying trends, and making marketing decisions.
This will also differ in GA4. Realtime traffic data in GA4 is updated every 5 seconds. Google sees this as a benefit for the end-user, providing more granular and updated more frequently than realtime traffic data in UA.
However, this information will not be displayed the same as it currently is in the Realtime > Overview section, which gives you a breakdown of users in the last 5 minutes and the top active pages in the last 30 minutes. Instead, it will provide you the number of users that have been on your site in the last 30 minutes. So while GA4 is updated more frequently, it will not appear as “realtime” in the “Realtime Overview” Dashboard.
We mention this, as we know we have several clients that constantly monitor how many people are on their sites at any given time. And this information will look different in GA4.
Migrating to GA4
Migrating to GA4 can seem daunting, but it is vital to do so to continue collecting data and analyzing your user behavior.
You can find more information about GA4 and the migration process on the Google Analytics website. Or reach out directly to Excite. We can handle the migration process for you and ensure you are correctly set up with GA4.