How to Quickly migrate to Google Analytics 4 Easily: A Detailed guide

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Discover the main phases on how to migrate to Google Analytics 4 Easily, and modifications to standard Universal Analytics (UA) features and data points, you’ll need to know when moving to Google Analytics 4.

How to Quickly migrate to Google Analytics 4 Easily: A Detailed guide
how to migrate to Google Analytics 4 Easily

You’ve probably heard by now that Google is updating Google Analytics from Universal Analytics (also known as GA3 or UA) to a unique, upgraded version, Google Analytics 4 (GA4). 

The migration for numerous of us from GA2 (Classic Analytics) to GA3 (Universal Analytics) was moderately easy 10 years ago.

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It is not quite simple for migrating.

We have numerous differences between the present Google Analytics you’re likely using (UA) and the latest version of Google Analytics (GA4), and not all of the qualities of UA are present in GA4. 

Besides, Google wants us to update now. As of July 1, 2023, the free version of Google Universal Analytics will no longer collect data. 

So, therefore, means that you need to address your analytics plan seriously as soon as possible to confirm that as of that date that your new GA4 property is tracking accurately and can deliver you authentic year-over-year data.

Below shows you the process of how to migrate to Google Analytics 4 (GA4).

Phase 1: Create and launch your GA4 property:

*Of the highest importance is creating your new GA4 properties and launching them instantly.

Properties will not be importing documented data from Universal Analytics, which indicates that your Google Analytics 4 property will only start tracking traffic data from the moment you create it and forward it. 

So the earlier you create it, the sooner you’ll have data occupying the Google Analytics 4 property.

The period for this should be done before July 1, 2022. But if you miss this date goal, just create your GA4 property (or properties) as fast as you could.

You will need to:

  • Create the new Google Analytics4 property.
  • The new GA4 tracking tag should be added to your website.

for launching the new property 

If you use Google Tag Manager, it is most easily achieved. After deployment, review the new property over the next few days to confirm you’re seeing traffic data populating the property.

Phase 2: List out your key items:

Recent analytics properties do not have particular tracking items (e.g., goals, events) from any other properties (including Universal Analytics properties). 

The list of the most common tracking items I use in Google Analytics as stated below. You may have extra ones to add, but these are some standards you need to add to the list:

  • Goals (Conversions)
  • Referral Exclusions
  • Events
  • Product Link Connections
  • Audiences
  • Content Groupings
  • Custom Dimensions/Metrics

By the time you have created your list, consider what you need to keep, which you can dump, and also perhaps where gaps might exist where you may want to design new tracking items, such as new goals,  new events, etc.

Also know that goals are designed in each reporting view. You do not use reporting view with GA4, so if you want to maintain all of the goals you have currently in multiple reporting views for the same Universal Analytics property, then you’ll need to list all of them and redesign them in the GA4 property. 

Like Universal Analytics reporting views, which confined you to 20 goals per reporting view, GA4 limits you to 30 modifications per property. 

When you give out your present plans, make sure to record which ones are “non-event” goals (for example, destination-based goals), as you ought to make some changes to how you track the ones going forward.

Phase 3: Start to move individual items to GA4:

By the time you have your list of items to recreate in Google Analytics 4, the real design work begins!

The most common items for set up and some tips for setting each one up are listed below:

Events

Events in Google Analytics 4 are similar to Universal Analytics setup, but you may need to set the tagging up anew for GA4 goals.

Some events you may have manually set up in the past, like scroll depth, are now added for you in GA4 automatically.

Firstly, you check the automated goals that are tracking in your GA4 property by glancing at the events under Configure in the navigation. No need to recreate events that Google has created for you already!

Like adding the general GA tracking code to your site, Google Tag Manager is the most painless tool to use for this effort.

Goals (Conversions)

Goals are now renamed “Conversions” in GA4, and all goals are event-based.

When relocating your existing Universal Analytics goals to Google Analytics 4, I suggest you should begin with the event-based goals, as those are more similar to the initial goal set up in UA.

Once you have set up the events in GA4 and marked them as conversions, start with destination-based goals and engagement goals.

  • You can either add the goal to GA4 via the interface or via code for goals that were previously destination-based, 
  • For goals that were formerly engagement-based, you will first need to create a GA4 audience and then recreate the engagement-based goals utilizing that audience.

Content Groupings

Content groupings were designed in the interface itself in Universal Analytics. Nevertheless, in GA4 there is no interface setup – all content groups are created through page tagging.

This is a nice change in some ways, but it requires a lot of time investment at the onset.

Multiple “gtags” can be on a page, and the easiest way to implement these will likely be Google Tag Manager (GTM).

Custom Dimensions/Metrics

With the like of Universal Analytics, putting up custom dimensions and metrics is a process that uses two steps – it needs set up in both the interface and the code.

Your existing Universal Analytics custom dimensions and metrics tags may move over fine to GA4, but you will still need to set up the dimensions and metrics in the GA4 property interface.

For you to set up custom dimensions and metrics in the interface, you can refer to Google’s setup guide.

Referral Exclusions

In GA4, referral exclusions still exist, but they’ve basically been renamed and moved a few layers from the top admin navigation levels down.

For you to add referral exclusions, under your GA4 property admin menu, select Data Streams, then your site data stream (your URL), then select More Tagging Settings under the Additional Settings section.

In the end, click Configure Your Domains and enter your domain and any other domains (such as those from third-party apps that are similar to your website, like certain marketing automation tools).

Product Link Extensions

You will need to reconnect your Google products’ links to your new Google Analytics 4 property. Make sure that it’s OK to have your Google properties connected to multiple GA properties, so you don’t need to remove your current Universal Analytics product links to connect GA4 too.

At the top level of the property admin navigation, product Links now appear. Choose each of the Google products you use, like Google Ads, and link your new GA4 property (ies).

Audiences

GA audiences are useful for advertisement purposes and now also conversion setup in GA4. It’s crucial to set up your audiences long before July 1, 2023, so that you can update your viable audience lists when the UA properties stop tracking, Google Ads campaigns with comparable. 

To recreate your audiences in Google Analytics 4, first, focus on the audiences in your list in Universal Analytics (at the property level) and find those that have Google Analytics as the audience type. They will need to be recreated in GA4.

Nevertheless, the terminology and way you create audiences have changed in GA4, so refer to Google’s audience creation guide for assistance.

Ecommerce

It seems almost everything in the UA to GA4 migration, eCommerce tracking also won’t magically transfer from UA to GA4. Google suggests creating a separate set of tags for GA4 eCommerce tracking, although it is the same as UA.

And here again, Google Tag Manager is likely the comfortable and fastest way to start your e-commerce tagging across the site.

For precise details for eCommerce migration, visit Google’s GA4 eCommerce migration guide.

These items will only begin to track when they are created. ideally, before July 1, 2022, the tracking items above should be implemented. Nevertheless, if you can’t complete them all before July 1, 2022, just complete them as fast as you can.

Phase 4: Check your items:

By the time you’ve launched your tracking items in the new GA4 properties, you’ll need to re-check that they are tracking correctly. 

Consider your eCommerce, conversions, event tracking, and more to confirm they are tracking as expected in the new properties. If not, troubleshoot the problem and fix it quickly.

Phase 5: Choose a date for migrating to GA4 as your single source of facts:

Google Analytics is depended on by Organizations for reporting for multiple departments, so the organization must agree to when the new GA4 property(ies) will come into a “single source of truth” for data and reporting. 

For you to have a good result, you should likely wait until you have year-over-year data in your GA4 property(ies) before switching your single source of truth to Google Analytics 4 in part because the metrics and tracking in GA4 are different than they are in Universal Analytics, you cannot use Universal Analytics data accurately from one year and measure with GA4 data in another year.

Acquire your new GA4 implemented before July 1, 2022, if you can, then you can likely start operating it as your single source of truth as of July 1, 2023.

However, if you are using the free version of Google Analytics, you’ll be forced to move to Google Analytics 4 as your primary source of fact on July 1, 2023, even if the year-over-year data with Universal Analytics isn’t similar.

Phase 6: Get your Universal Analytics data:

Google has made the decision that they will be forcing everyone to relocate to Google Analytics 4 now and they will also wipe all of our documented Universal Analytics data starting from January 1, 2024. 

As you do have a bit more duration to archive this data, you should prepare on getting it in case you need to reference it later in the future

Find Out what data you really need first. For instance, I usually use the source/medium report. 

Consider also the intervals in which you access this data. Normally, I access data monthly, such as June 1-30. You’ll like to archive your data in a way that matches these data usage habits.

I see the Universal Analytics interface bulky for archiving purposes. In my illustration of the source/medium report and pulling monthly data, in the interface, you can pull two months of data at a time only (one as the initial month and one as the comparison month), and then download the data to Comma Separated Values (CSV). This will take a longer period to achieve! 

Furthermore, if you’re not a web programmer who knows how to use the Google Analytics Application Programming Interface (API) especially, then think of using the Google Analytics Spreadsheet Add-On, which operates with Google Sheets. It is super convenient and pulls that data fast! 

Be sure you don’t run into data sampling problems, and if you do, take smaller reports. 

If I pull 10 years of data for example, from the source/medium report broken down by month, it occur that so much data forces Google to sample the data. I would try breaking it down If that’s the case, into several reports pulls, possibly one year’s worth of data per information. You can sum the data always into one sheet once it’s pulled.

The period you are operating the free version of Universal Analytics, you will need to do this between July 1-December 31, 2022. On January 1, 2023 your data will be deleted. You must archive your data before June 30, 2023 if you are using Universal Analytics 360.

Eventually, don’t panic!

migrate to Google Analytics 4
migrate to Google Analytics 4

It’s all stressful, i know. Hold on there, it will be fine. 

I talk on this issue around the country, and lately someone asked me if there’s anything satisfactory about GA4.

Yes! Is the awesome answer. 

Google Analytics 4 is desiring to get us all closer to true Return On Investment (ROI) and cross-device reporting. 

Nevertheless, change and growth are difficult. Humans don’t tend to want it. 

So the above is all i have about how to migrate to Google Analytics 4.

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