From comprehensive data collection to powerful insights and features, Google Analytics is a must-have for any online business. And with the release of GA 4 (Google Analytics version 4), there is a lot to be excited about.
Google has recently announced a depreciation date for UA (the “normal” Google Analytics). That means from 1st July 2023 you will no longer be able to access and use it. With that in mind, it’s time to meet the next generation of Google Analytics, which offers a suite of powerful features and advantages that weren’t available in previous versions (Universal Analytics).
But I’m getting ahead of myself here; more on that later. All you need to know right now is that this new version is packed full of features that will make your life as a marketer or business owner much easier, and it’s now fully up and running, ready for you to use!
I’m no stranger to Google Analytics. In fact, I’m a bit of a power user. But even I had to do some digging to figure out how to set up GA4 properly. So if you’re new to Google Analytics or just need a refresher on the latest version, this post is for you.
In this step-by-step guide, I’m going to show you how to set up GA4 so that you can hit the ground running and start collecting data that will help you make better marketing decisions. By the end, you should be able to answer crucial questions like:
- How many people are visiting my website?
- What are the most popular pages on my website?
- Where do my visitors come from?
- What devices are they using?
- What actions are they taking on my website?
- And so much more!
But first, what is Google Analytics 4 anyway? Let’s start with the basics.
What Is Google Analytics 4?
Chances are the Google Analytics you currently use is Universal Analytics (UA). It’s the version we know and love and have been working with for years. But in October 2020, Google announced GA4, the latest and greatest version of the software.
Google Analytics 4 is built to track website traffic and activity, but it also provides unique insights into customer usage patterns and how users interact with your site on a daily basis. What’s really new and exciting about the update is its machine learning capabilities to help combat the end of cookies and the implied loss of valuable third party data.
Thinking of making a change to your website? Go for it! GA4 will give you all the data you need to see how it impacts your business. Want to tweak your marketing strategy? GA4 has got your back. The platform provides data-driven insights that can help you make decisions about everything from the content you produce to the ads you run.
And the best part of it? It’s all for free! (For more free digital marketing tools check out this post).
So, What’s New in GA4?
New is always good, right?
But when it comes to Google Analytics, change can be a little daunting. After all, we’ve gotten used to the way things work, and UA did a pretty good job of meeting our needs. So what exactly is different about GA4?
Well, for starters, Google has made some changes to the way data is collected and processed. In the past, data was collected via cookies placed on a user’s browser. But with GA4, data is now managed via first-party storage, which means it will be more accurate and reliable.
Another significant change is the way in which insights are generated. With UA, insights were based on historical data. But with GA4, insights are generated in real-time, which means you can make decisions based on what’s happening right now.
Finally, GA4 provides more comprehensive data collection than UA. In addition to website data, GA4 also collects data from apps, IoT devices, and even offline interactions. This allows you to get a complete picture of how your customers interact with your brand, regardless of the channel.
In addition to the above, here are some other notable changes:
- Event tracking with no code
- Advanced analytics and AI-powered insights that anticipate your needs;
- Reports are well-structured;
- Google Ads will be more seamlessly integrated.
Google Analytics 4 uses machine learning and AI technologies to deliver actionable insights. And it does so in a way that is easy to understand and use.
The bottom line? Google Analytics four is a powerful tool that can help you take your marketing to the next level. But before you can start using it, you need to set it up properly. So let’s get to it!
How to Create an Analytics Account
The first step in setting up GA4 is to create an analytics account. If you already have a UA account, don’t worry! You can still use GA four side-by-side with UA. Let’s dive in.
- Step 1 – Head over to google.com/analytics and click “Get Started Today” in the top right corner.
Step 2 – Log in to your Google Account
- Step 3 – Hit “Start Measuring”
- Step 4 – Enter your chosen account name, and select your account data sharing settings. I could tell you what to choose here, but ultimately it’s up to you. Once you’ve made your selections, click Next.
- Step 5 – In this section, you choose your Property Name, Time Zone, and Location. If you hit Advanced Settings, you’ll be able to determine whether or not you’d like to create a Universal Analytics property.
- Step 6 – Now, you can fill out your business information. Choose your industry, size, and what you intend to use GA4 for. You can click as many options as apply, then click “Create”.
- Step 7 – Go ahead and click accept on the terms of service; you’re probably only signing your house over.
And that’s pretty much it! Once you click accept, you’ll be directed to set up a data stream. Google will take over here, as they provide you with a full tour of the interface and how to use it.
How to Set Up Google Analytics 4
Now that you know how to create an analytics account, let’s figure out how to set up Google Analytics 4 and link it up to your website. This is super easy and only takes a few minutes.
Continuing where we left off:
- Step 1 – To link up your website, choose the “web” as your platform.
- Step 2 – Insert your website URL, your and your stream name, then go ahead and click “Create Stream”
- Step 3 – Voila! You now have your measurement ID, which you’ll need to link your website to GA.
Steps to Link GA4 to Your Website
The final step is to add your measurement ID to your website so GA4 can start collecting data. If you use Google Tag Manager, this process is a breeze. If you don’t, create an account! It’ll make your life a lot easier.
To create an account, just head over to www.tagmanager.google.com and follow the steps. As I said, this process should be pretty easy, but if you get stuck, Google has excellent documentation on how to set up an account and install the tag manager snippet on your website. You can access it by clicking here.
Steps to Link GA to Your Website:
- Step 1 – Navigate to the Tags tab, then click “New Tag”
- Step 2 – Click ”Tag Configuration”
- Step 3 – A new window will pop up. In this window, you’ll choose what kind of tag you want to create. Choose “Google Analytics: GA”
- Step 4 – After selecting your tracking type, a new box will appear asking for your measurement ID. Remember that ID we created earlier? This is where you’ll enter it.
- Step 5 – Now go back and click on the Triggering tab.
- Step 6 – The final step is to choose when and where you want this tag to fire. I usually recommend “All Pages”, but again, it’s up to you.
- Step 7 – Hooray, you did it! Finally, go ahead and click save
You’ve Successfully Set Up Google Analytics 4!
That’s it! You’ve successfully set up GA on your website. All that’s left to do is wait for that valuable data to start rolling in. Give it a few days for GA to collect enough information to generate insights that are actually meaningful.
I hope that this guide was helpful in getting you set up with GA4. If you have any questions or have trouble setting anything up, feel free to leave a comment below or contact me directly. I’m always happy to help where I can!