“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.
METRICS/ CUSTOM DIMENSIONS
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
2. Find your site data stream (URL)
3. Under the Additional Settings section, select More Tagging Settings
4. 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.
PRODUCT LINK EXTENSIONS
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.