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GA4 - Your Questions Answered

With the deadline for the compulsory transition to GA4 fast approaching, get the rundown on everything you need to know to ensure you do it right. Learn about:

  • The difference between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4
  • How to migrate to GA4
  • Moving conversions, audiences, custom dimensions and more from UA to GA4
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The Complete Guide to Moving from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4

The Complete Guide to Moving from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4

Table of Contents

1. How to Know Whether You’re Using Universal Analytics or Google Analytics 4
2. What will happen to Universal Analytics?
3. Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4: What’s the Diff?
4. How’s Reporting Like in Google Analytics 4?
5. Step-by-step guide to migrating to Google Analytics 4
6. Conclusion



Come July 1, 2023, the free version of Universal Analytics will stop collecting data. It’s the recent move from Google to press us into upgrading into the newest Google analytics tool, the Google Analytics 4 (GA4). 

Universal Analytics, now named Google Analytics 3 (GA3), was launched in 2012. It was the most advanced web analytics platform, having made significant updates to implement Google Tag Manager and Global Site Tags to streamline the tagging approach and simplify Google product integrations. 

But as years elapsed, mobile applications became front and center on the ecommerce stage and GA3 lacked the capability to keep up with its growth. It simply wasn’t able to track and measure actions outside Google or their favourite retailers’ websites. Google Analytics 4 aims to unify the Web and Application experience to provide more accurate insights in order to optimise the performance of your next campaigns. 

Ten years ago, the transition from Google Analytics 2 to Google Analytics 3 was like a Sunday picnic. This time, the migration requires a bit more reckoning. 

Consider this guide as your hand-holding comrade that will help you learn more about this change and navigate your way through the halls of the new analytics version.


How to Know Whether You’re Using Universal Analytics or Google Analytics 4

It’s easy to know if what you’re still using is Universal Analytics: a blue notification located at the top will display a message that reads, “Universal Analytics will no longer process new data in standard properties beginning July 1, 2023.” You may not see it, however, if you've previously dismissed the notification. 

To be sure, you can check the property IDs and see which version you’re using. A Universal Analytics property ID starts with “UA” and ends with a number. In Google Analytics 4, property IDs are marked by numbers only. 

Universal Analytics - (UA-205798462-1)
Google Analytics 4 - (282593008)

Another factor is the date when you created your property. If you set it up before October 14, 2020, you’re likely using UA. If the property is created past October 14, 2020, you’re likely to have set up GA4. For new analytics accounts, they are automatically created into a GA4 property. Old accounts reserve the option to switch their website to the new analytics version.


“I don’t want to switch just yet.” What will happen to Universal Analytics?

Many webmasters fear that, as a result of this update, the data will be lost and the current setup will stop working. To date, there are more than 20 million live sites that still use Google’s Universal Analytics. This means that UA is still working and it’ll stay working for anyone who wishes not to upgrade GA4 just yet. 

However, only Google Analytics 4 will be available for new website installations. 


Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4: What’s the Diff?

Once you successfully set up your new GA4 property, you’re free to navigate and explore the new features that aren’t found in UA. This iteration of Google Analytics gives you a comprehensive view of consumer behavior across web and mobile apps via first-party, modelled data. It also boasts of improved machine learning features, newer integrations, and accurate and filtered reporting.

If you’re new to Google Analytics 4 and just beginning to create your free account, you can refer to this GA4 account training guide to explore some self-support options for standard properties.


How’s Reporting Like in Google Analytics 4?

For starters, the reports you were accustomed to in Universal Analytics are now found under “Explorations”. In the Explorations tool, you can see the standard reports that will enable you to analyze data and configure functionality for deeper, more customized reporting. 

In GA4, you can create reports that allow you to evaluate landing page performance, identify which pages garner the most views, glean insights about why visitors abandon your page/website, formulate funnels to optimise lead forms and checkout flows, determine which sources refer the most traffic, and understand your demographics. 

In regard to report customization, GA4 runs the gamut: You can segment your data for better insights, apply filters, customise both overview and detailed reports, and even filter out data from any report. 

To drive or increase your conversion rate, Google Analytics 4 enables you to set up conversions, identify which channels and landing pages drive the most conversions, and optimise your checkout cart. 


“I want to migrate now.” Step-by-step guide to migrating to Google Analytics 4

Step 1: Create and launch your GA4 Property

Remember that insights or data generated from Universal Analytics will not import when you migrate to GA4. This means that GA4 will only begin tracking traffic data the moment you set it up and then forward. In Google Tag Manager, you can launch the new property by: 

- Creating the new GA4 property
- Adding the new GA4 tracking tag to your website

Once the tag is deployed, revisit your dashboard to see if your property is correctly populating traffic data. 

Step 2: Select your tracking items

Again, new analytics properties do not inherit and import the tracking items in the old properties, like those in Universal Analytics. It’s imperative to select the most common tracking items from the old version and identify gaps that you want bridged in the new property. You can also rethink if you must create new events and goals. 

Because each goal is created in each reporting view, you have to recreate them in Google Analytics 4. That is, if you want to retain the old reporting dashboards configured in the old property. While UA limits you to have 20 goals per reporting view, GA4 provides you up to 30 conversions per property. You can know more about GA4’s configuration limits in this Google guide

Step 3: Start migrating items to GA4

Your tracking items list enables you to start the actual upgrade process!

For your convenience, SEO Premier rounds up the most common tracking items (events, goals, metrics, referral exclusions, etc.) to set up and some helpful tips to set each one up:


Good thing, events setup in Google Analytics 4 have a significant overlap with the ones in Universal Analytics. However, you may need to set up new goals (now called “conversions”) in GA4. Google Analytics 4 remains to use the same “event” and “event-parameter” paradigm based on Firebase Analytics. 

If you want to review the goals tracking in your GA4 property, go to “Configure” in the navigation. There, you can see that some events have been created by Google. Check your list again for events you need to manually set up.

The whole point of mapping your old UA tracking to GA4 enables you to extract more meaningful data, more flexibility in describing data, and helps you interpret those data through the benefit of a single tracking taxonomy. If you need more help mapping events from UA to GA4, look into this guide


All goals are event-based, and Google Analytics 4 has renamed “goals” into “conversions.” 

To shorten the learning curve, we suggest that you start with event-based goals as they are the ones already found existing in GA4, and work your way into mapping the rest of the conversions. 

Goals can either be destination-based or engagement goals. Marking either type requires different treatments. For previously destination-based goals, you can either add them through the interface or via code. For engagement-based ones, you need to create a GA4 audience first and then recreate the goals using that audience. 


When you advertise on Google, setting your Audiences correctly on GA4 will help your campaigns succeed. It’s imperative to update your audiences months before the July 1, 2023 threshold (when UA properties stop tracking data) so you can run your ad campaigns with viable, comparable audiences in the future.

Remember that the terminology used in GA4 isn’t the same as those in UA. To help you reacquaint yourself with the terms and find any potential gaps in taxonomy in the new analytics version, you can refer to this GA4 ecommerce migration guide


The same with Universal Analytics, it takes two steps to set up your custom dimensions and metrics in Google Analytics 4: one is through the interface, and the other one is via code. 

You may notice that some of your UA custom dimensions and metrics tags will transfer just fine in GA4. However, you still have to set the dimensions and metrics in the GA4 property interface. To help you do this, you can look at this guide. Note that it’s not necessary for one to set up custom dimensions and metrics for data collected via automatically collected events, enhanced measurement, and recommended events. 


In Google Analytics 4, interface setup isn’t required for content groupings. Unlike in Universal Analytics, content groups in GA4 are created via page tagging, which may require a lot of effort at the get-go. As a page can have multiple “gtags”, the best way to implement them will be through Google Tag Manager. 

You can read this reference guide if you need help implementing content groupings in GA4.


Ecommerce tracking is one aspect in Universal Analytics that won’t automatically migrate to Google Analytics 4. Even if it is the same as UA, Google recommends a separate set of tags created for ecommerce tracking in GA4. Google Tag Manager is again your reliable friend on this occasion: it’ll help you efficiently implement your ecommerce tagging across the website.  


Another change in the GA4 property is the renaming and demotion of referral exclusions a few layers down from the top admin navigation. 

Here are the steps to adding referral exclusions in GA4: 

1. Under admin menu, choose Data Streams
Find your site data stream (URL)
3. Under the Additional Settings section, select More Tagging Settings
Choose Configure Your Domains and enter your domain. 

You can also add domains from other third-party apps that connect to your website, like marketing automation tools. 


In GA4, product links now are displayed at the top level of the property admin navigation. To reconnect the Google products’ links, you must select each of the Google products you use and connect them accordingly to the new GA4 property. 

Remember that it’s fine to have Google products integrated with multiple GA properties. That said, you need not remove existing product links attached to Universal Analytics to connect Google Analytics 4.

Step 4: Check if your items are tracking properly

Now that you have launched the tracking items in the new properties, you need to determine whether or not those tracking items are tracking properly. Check your ecommerce, event tracking, and conversions to make sure they’re working in the new properties. 

Step 5: Decide when to permanently use GA4 Tracking for your reporting

Google Analytics is often heralded as one of the most reliable tools an organisation can use for tracking and reporting user behaviour insights across web and mobile. With that, it’s important to ensure that the new properties you set up eventually become the ultimate source of your reporting data. You will find that the metrics and tracking in Google Analytics 4 are different from what you’re used to in Universal Analytics. We recommend that you wait until you accrue a year-over-year data before you elect the data in GA4 properties as your single source of truth. 

If you successfully migrated to GA4 before July 1, 2022, then you can have integrity and accuracy of year-over-year data starting July 1, 2023. The change is inevitable for those using the free version of Google Analytics, because they’ll be forced to migrate to GA4 on July 1, 2023. 

Step 6: Keep your UA data before Google deletes them

On January 1, 2024, Google will begin deleting all our historical data in Universal Analytics. There’s plenty of time to archive your data, but make sure to keep them before next year so you can still refer to them in the future. 

Of course, you don’t need all that data. Consider what sort of data you regularly need, then determine the intervals by which you need the data. Then archive the data based on your data reference habits.



In the past, we relied on cookies to identify the visitors and track the actions performed on our websites. But with the widespread use of ad blockers and declining use of cookies (due mostly to privacy issues), reporting of data of individual behaviour gets lost when the user switches devices. 

In Google Analytics 4, the users are tracked through their User ID along with unique Google signals, which then makes the resulting data more accurate and provide more meaningful insights about the customer journey. 

So, is there a good reason to switch to the new Google Analytics 4? YOU BET! In its essence, Google Analytics 4 will bring us closer to true ROI and cross-device monitoring and reporting. As webmasters and SEO specialists, switching to GA4 is definitely a change worth advocating and labouring for. 

Need any help upgrading from UA to GA4? Let SEO Premier show you the ropes and yield accurate reporting to optimise the performance of your channels and landing pages. Book a consultation with us today!


Optimising your blog posts for SEO best practice gives your site better search visibility.


Write captivating copy for your blog that informs and persuades your potential customers.


We can help research industry-related topics that promotes your products and services.

Frequently asked questions about Blogging

What is GA4?

When is the deadline for migrating versions?

Can I run UA and GA4 in parallel?

What are the benefits of migrating to GA4?

Will I still see my historical data from Universal Analytics?

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GA4 - Your Questions Answered

With the deadline for the compulsory transition to GA4 fast approaching, get the rundown on everything you need to know to ensure you do it right. Learn about:

  • The difference between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4
  • How to migrate to GA4
  • Moving conversions, audiences, custom dimensions and more from UA to GA4
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