Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the latest iteration of Google Analytics, a tracking and analytics platform that collects and reports on website traffic data. For businesses looking to truly understand how their customers are interacting with them online, GA4 is capable of providing the most advanced insights available today.
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In this blog, we provide an overview into GA4 and outline its benefits and capabilities.
What is GA4?
GA4 is the 4th and latest version of the Google’s analytics platform and is heralded as an advancement on the capabilities of Universal Analytics or UA. Designed to adapt to the future demands of web analytics and reduce reliance on cookies, it combines tracking across devices and platforms into one unified report and has replaced UA as the default option when setting up a new property.
How Does GA4 Work?
GA4 represents the future of web analytics, and aims to hold user privacy at its core. Essentially, as the tracking and sharing of user data becomes more strictly controlled, GA4 utilises predictive metrics and machine learning to effectively ‘fills in the gaps’ created when a user doesn’t consent to cookies. GA4 therefore provides a more stable and future-proof version of Google Analytics that is less prone to gaps and disruptions following GDPR updates and regulatory changes.
What is the Difference Between GA4 & UA?
UA and GA4 use different metrics to measure traffic to your website. GA4 offers a much wider focus, tracking the entirety of the user journey by linking users across devices. This is in contrast to UA which splits activity up into user sessions over a given timeframe and doesn’t unify data across platforms and devices.
Simply put, GA4 is all about the user. This user and event-centred model provides a single set of metrics for reporting web and app data, allowing for logical aggregation and analysis, and making its reporting much more accurate.
Other differences to note include the renaming of ‘goals’ on UA to ‘conversions’ on GA4. GA4 also enables you to set up a maximum of 30 of these conversions – 10 more than UA – and these conversions can only be based on events. GA4 also presents this data differently through a single overview section and options to access further insight. This makes it easier to identify trends and patterns – as well as notable anomalies.
Benefits of GA4
Tracking Across Platforms
GA4 improves on UA by enabling you to track, analyse, and compare data across your website and applications in a single, unified place. This makes it easier to track the behaviour of a single user, even if they use multiple devices to interact with your business.
As discussed, GA4 uses a different metric to UA that is focused on events. The system of analytics relies on capturing data based on events, parameters, and user properties as opposed to page views, hits, and sessions. This makes analysis more intuitive, and the insights gained much more reliable.
Analysis tools and metrics are more focused on user engagement on GA4, making it easier to gain insights from the data. Instead of providing data on bounce rate, GA4 provides positive insights into engagement through scroll, site search, video engagement, file downloads, and more, allowing you to understand how users are interacting with your business more directly. GA4 also includes numerous free advanced analysis features like path analysis, heat maps, and segment overlap.
Entire User Journey
By focusing more on the user, GA4 provides greater insight into the customer journey in its entirety through a new section called Life Cycle. This section provides reports on acquisition, engagement, monetisation, and retention. As a result, you can gain insights into every interaction customers have with your site, allowing you to identify areas of value and areas that need to be improved.
Above all, GA4 is the iteration of Google Analytics most prepared to face the future. Current tracking and analytics methods rely on cookies and other identifiers – but data privacy laws are becoming stricter and stricter. GA4 reduces the reliance on these through the implementation of intelligent tracking and modelling, reducing the risk of there being significant disruption to your data collection.
Should I Be Using GA4?
GA4 represents the future of analytics, and everyone who wants to gain accurate insights into user activity and web traffic should be making the switch. Not only that, but Universal Analytics is no longer the default option, and as of July 2023, will no longer be available for new setups.
Of course, the question of whether GA4 is right at this time is entirely down to you – but you might want to get ahead of the game! If you’d like some more information about what GA4 can offer your business, feel free to call up our SEO experts. We’ll talk you through the features, costs, and associated benefits, so you can make an informed decision.