Google Analytics is the first choice of website analytics tool for many businesses. At the time of writing, Google Analytics is still the number one website traffic analysis tool, in use by 56% of all websites. Analytics also monitors an 86% market share of all website traffic.
First launched back in November 2005, Google Analytics was the first iteration of the web traffic tool after Urchin Stats was acquired by Google in April of the same year. In the sixteen years since its launch, Google Analytics has evolved through various forms – the asynchronous code, Universal Analytics, Google Analytics 360, the Global Site Tag (gTag) and now Google Analytics 4 or GA4 for short.
So Why is Google Analytics Dead?
GA4 was released in October 2020 and, after a year and a half in beta, is now the default Analytics version. In fact, GA4 has been the default version for a while now, with Universal Analytics being a secondary option for new accounts.
However, Google has just officially announced that Universal Analytics (UA) will no longer be recording hits from 1st July 2023. This means that GA4 is now the standard analytics tool and so all website owners will need to start making the switch.
The notification is now also live in current UA accounts with the red banner stating:
“Universal Analytics will no longer process new data in standard properties beginning 1 July 2023. Prepare now by setting up and switching over to a Google Analytics 4 property.”
What’s So Special About GA4?
GA4, as Google’s “next generation” analytics tool, is a progression of the App + Web version they announced in July 2019. Where Universal Analytics was built solely for tracking website traffic, the App + Web version was designed to unify both website and application traffic, taking into account app usage from iOS and Android devices. Businesses that rely heavily on apps as well as website traffic can now measure both streams in a unified tool.
The subtle use of new language is also a positive change for GA4 – whereas Universal Analytics was used to track users, GA4 now measures them. That nuance is a distinct difference where many users and privacy advocates prefer not to be tracked. Measuring activity and traffic to sites and apps is so much more acceptable.
The structure of GA4 is different too – Where previous iterations had an Account > Property > View structure, Views are now replaced by data streams. So, if you want to measure just an app’s user behaviour, you can add a data stream for your Android app and another for your iOS app. If you have a website too, that’s another data stream.
Another key concept is the principle that GA4 is event-based and can capture every interaction as an event. So where previous version of Analytics tracked hits, those hit types are now translated to events. That’s everything from an app/screen view or a page view to user timing and e-commerce transactions.
Once you’ve logged in to your new Google Analytics 4 account or property, at first glance, the GA4 appears to be much simpler than old versions of Analytics. Indeed, it actually is. However, any seasoned Analytics user, upon digging deeper into the tools, may initially find it to be quite limited. Old reports have been moved or removed and are only accessible once you configure and measure certain metrics via your new GA4.
Need Help with GA4?
The beauty of new GA4 though is that it is highly configurable. There’s so much in it from flexible, enhanced measurement to cross-platform analysis. That said, it’s not for the faint of heart as it has quite a steep learning curve.
Once mastered though, GA4 is an incredibly versatile tool, being able to monitor your streams, and even BigQuery integration should you need it, a feature previously only available on Analytics 360.
Whatever your requirements, from setting up GA4 and dual tagging, to data stream reporting and x-platform measurement, the analysts in our experienced SEO team will be happy to help out on your website project. We’ll even help you to measure your PPC activity through GA4 too.