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What is GA4 And How Will It Affect My Website?

4 minute read

If you’ve used Google Analytics at any point recently, you would have likely seen the massive red banner at the top of the page announcing “This property is scheduled to stop processing data very soon. Once this goes into effect, you’ll need a Google Analytics 4 property to measure website performance”. Google has a customarily unclear way of announcing stuff that’s actually pretty important and no doubt their sudden insistence on migrating analytics profiles has many website owners feeling somewhat confused. No matter how attached we might be to Google Analytics 3 (we definitely are!), Google Analytics 4 is here to stay and failure to migrate your website could lead to a loss of data, something we’re pretty sure nobody really wants.

Making the Switch to GA4

Google Analytics 4 is the latest version of Google’s data collection platform. Unless you remember the prehistoric days of GA2 (which was phased out post 2012), GA3 will likely be what you’re most familiar with seeing as over 55% of all websites use this. GA4 is simply the latest version of the platform, imagine GA3, but without most of the helpful features (which they will add later… probably). While it might seem like Google got the sudden urge to make a change simply for the sake of making a change, there are several reasons as to why they felt that a fresh version was necessary:

Custom Events

The older versions of Google Analytics were famously a bit flaky with their tracking of events; after all, every site has a slightly different method of identifying what constitutes an event. One of the major benefits to GA4 is that it allows for the creation of custom events which allows you to define the interactions that you actually want to track. Measurement ID tags alongside integration with Google Tag Manager allows for far more in-depth tracking of conversions and user journeys.

Bounce Rate

GA3 was running an outdated metric called bounce rate. The idea behind the bounce rate metric was that it would measure how many users left the site without carrying out an interaction, this was meant as a rough measure of engagement. Unfortunately, content-heavy sites such as blogs always ended up having bounce rates close to 100% since users would click through, read a blog, and leave the site – basically, exactly what was intended of them. With GA4 they’ve swapped bounce rate for engagement rate, the same metric but with the added feature that if a user spent longer than 10 seconds on the site, they would be classed as an engaged user.

App Integration

Unlike previous versions of the platform, GA4 supports additional data streams including mobile applications. This allows for businesses to store data from several different sources on the same platform; naturally, this comes with the same options for report creation and measurement.

Do I Have to Make the Switch?

Yes, and if you don’t then Google will make the switch for you. What this means is that you may end up with a cookie-cutter profile missing the reports and measurements set up as a part of GA3. There’s a fair bit to set up and the entire process can be a bit of a headache if you’re not entirely familiar with some of Google’s fancy terminology; either way we highly recommend you move your profile over. If you’re not entirely sure how this can be done, feel free to get in touch with our team of experts at Supersonic Playground.

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Interested in a web development project? At Supersonic Playground we provide an eclectic range of development services designed to help businesses establish themselves within the digital space. Get in touch with a member of our team here.

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