How to upgrade to Google Analytics 4 (GA4)?

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Nov 30, 2022  . 7 min read
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How to upgrade to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) - TypeStack
How to upgrade to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) - TypeStack
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What if after June 2023 your web analytics tool stopped working?

Does all your data get erased?

Don’t worry, you still have more than five months to update Google Analytics from GA3 to GA4.

So let's see, what is a GA4?

Introduction of GA4

Google Analytics 4 is an analytical tool that collects data from both websites and applications. Compared to all previous versions of Google products, GA4 is quite different. Here are some of the features that make it stand out-

  • This tool is event-based. All features like timing hits, transactions, page views, and many others are events.
  • Now every business has a website and mobile application, you can stream the data to a single property.
  • GA4 tracking features have expanded and cover link clicks, YouTube videos, and other actions automatically.
  • Reports and tools, for example, ad-hoc funnels, are also being introduced with the updated version of GA4.
  • Your data will expire after 14 months, whereas, in GA3 data never expires (if you set it like that).
  • GA4 has given the benefit of streaming data to BigQuery to all accounts, instead of premium accounts only, as done in GA3.
  • In the current version, no views are present at the moment. In the future, views might get added.
  • Like BigQuery integration, some integrations are still not included in GA4, for example, the Google Search Console. You have to adapt to using new features and leave some of the old features in the old version.

Make sure to use GA4 as soon as possible, because due to differences between both versions data from GA3 cannot be transferred to GA4.

Parallel tracking

It means that both GA3 and GA4 can be used simultaneously on the website, without intervention from each other. Most important thing is that both use _ga cookies.

If currently your website uses GA3 but doesn't function with GTM, then it’s perfect to install GTM and start working on GA4.

If you have already implemented GA3 via GTM, then just create an additional GA4 tag with the help of the steps mentioned below.

GA4 upgrade procedure

There are two ways of getting work started on GA4. Either by creating a new property or by using the GA4 Setup Assistant.

GA4 Setup Assistant

If you are currently working with GA3, then select “GA4 Setup Assistant” given in the “Admin” section. After that, two options will appear i.e. create a new GA4 property or connect to the existing one. Choose the “create a new Google Analytics 4 property”

A window giving information about “creating a new Google Analytics 4 property” will appear. It will tell - create a new property, GA4 will copy some basic settings from the GA3 property, and enhanced measurement will be activated.

There is a condition to blue-tick the option to “enable data collection using your existing tags”, i.e. if GA3 works via gtag.js.

Now click “create property”. A Setup Assistant window will appear on the screen with the list of collections to customize as per your requirement.

Install GA4 with GTM

To install Google Analytics 4, open Setup Assistant and select “tag installation”. A window will appear, saying “Data streams” with 4 options, you have to choose one of them. After selecting, you will be directed to a page with “stream URL, stream name, stream id, status, and measurement ID” (copy the measurement id).

Now open the GTM container, go to “tags”, then “new”, and lastly GA4 configuration. Paste the measurement id in this tab. You can tick the check box mentioning “send a page view event when this configuration loads”.

Test your new GA4

To test the GA4 tag you have to open the GTM preview mode and check whether the GA4 tag has been fired or not.

Open the GA4 interface and select “Realtime”. Here real-time reports are displayed (it's new, that's why some features are still taking time to function properly).

An alternate option is to try GA4 DebugView.

Publish

After testing and once again reviewing all the data, the last step is launching. At the top, you will find the tab either to preview or submit, select submit, and publish it.

Now you have successfully migrated to GA4 and won’t face any difficulty if GA3 stops anytime soon. Just don’t forget to check the enhanced measurement features, it's a default function. It performs the function of tracking scrolling, searching, outbound links, and many more events.

After upgradation to GA4

Here are some important points you need to consider after the GA4 migration guide mentioned above-

  • Increase the data retention period i.e. from 2 months to 14 months
  • Remove internal traffic
  • Last but not least is cross-domain tracking

Tracking events

GA4 provides you with more options for automatic tracking than other google analytical tools. After figuring out basic features, go to track events. One of its benefits is, all the events are properly and closely tracked to extract the correct report for your business.

In short, there are 4 types of events i.e. Automatically collected, enhanced measurement, recommended, and custom events.

Here are some of the basic steps used in all types of event tracking-

  • The first step is to create new events.
  • Next is to modify the events as per your requirement
  • Test the events before publishing them on the website
  • Last but not least is to publish the events

Frequently Asked Questions

You might be wondering how long it takes for Google Analytics to update/work? And many more questions like this. First, let's answer this question, a normal course is between 24 to 48 hours.

So here are some of the most asked questions-

Is it necessary to do a GA4 upgrade?

Yes, it is. 30 June 2023 is the last day of GA3 collecting data. Either you should find another analytical tool or upgrade to GA4.

Which option is best, GA4 or GA3?

Both options are best, but GA3 is going to stop working. So update to google analytics 4 to save your data in time.

Is it possible to migrate data from GA4 to GA3?

No, it is not possible. Both have different configurations and storage places. You might see the option to connect GA4 to GA3, but that’s not true and if you implement it, it might affect your data history.

Can the same triggers be used in GA4 just like GA3?

Of course, start with what you know. Use those triggers that you use in old tools. It will give you the confidence to use GA4 easily.

When will google analytics end a session by default?

After 30 minutes of inactivity, google analytics will end the session. You can customize this setting as per your requirement from a few seconds to a few hours.

When a new view is created what data will be included?

Certainly, no historic data from other views is included. The moment a new view is created, google analytics track data from that time only.

Next step…

Steps to update Google Analytics are not enough, you also need to deeply understand all the functions of this tool to extract the maximum benefit, and find out what's the difference between Google Analytics 4 vs Universal Analytics.

Final words to update Google Analytics

Before Google Analytics 3 stops working, you need to update to GA4 for your business and to save your data. If you still wait for last-minute action, you might end up deleting your historic data by yourself and vanish years of hard work.

If you already are a google product user, then there won’t be any problem jumping to google analytics 4. You will still be familiar with all tags, events, and functions. A positive point of GA4 is that this tool contains more tracking events (majority automatic) than universal analytics.

Now you are ready to update Google Analytics on your website.

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