If you use Google Analytics to track the success of your search engine optimisation services ‒ whether in Tweed Heads or anywhere else ‒ then you need to be aware of how the Google Analytics 4 (GA4) changes will affect you.
Google Analytics is an incredibly useful tool for business owners and website developers to track the performance of their websites. The service provides data and analysis surrounding website activity, such as how many pages were visited per session, how long sessions tend to be, what kind of bounce rate the website experiences, and where the majority of the website traffic originates from, among other useful data.
What’s great about it is that it is a freemium service, meaning there is no cost involved in using it ‒ at least the basic version of it. However, if you want access to some of the more advanced features, you will have to pay a subscription fee.
Now, it’s important to know that if you set Google Analytics up before October 14 2020, you most likely have been using the Universal Analytics (UA) property ‒ also known as GA3. However, the new generation property, GA4, will be wholly supplanting UA in July 2023. If you haven’t migrated your Google Analytics account to GA4 by then, you will simply stop receiving any more insights into your website’s performance when the final switchover takes place.
Thankfully, migrating your website analytics across to GA4 is a simple process that shouldn’t take long to complete.
However, there are some differences between GA4 and UA that all Google Analytics users should be aware of in order to get the most possible utility out of the service. Let’s take a look at some of those differences here and how they might affect you.
With third-party cookies being phased out, more emphasis will be placed on first-party data when it comes to analytics going forward. With laws coming into effect around the globe that are designed to enhance user privacy and limit how online marketers can exploit personal data, it is important to ensure that you remain on the right side of the law.
While the new GA4 is designed to provide greater detail in terms of data collected for analysis, it simultaneously ensures that users’ privacy is upheld, thereby keeping you compliant. It also makes it easier to comply with data removal requests from users while providing a new consent mode that allows you to get consent for both marketing and analytics.
The UA property based its analytics on session-based data, which is a collection of event hits and page hits per website visitation session. The problem with session-based data is that it is not necessarily a true reflection of what is happening in reality, which can skew the results.
For example, a single user might visit the site several times and it would be recorded as several sessions ‒ even though it’s the same user.
Decisions made based on potentially misleading data are obviously not ideal, which is why Google has opted to make GA4 focus on event-based data instead. This provides much more detailed metrics of individual events rather than lumping them together in sessions.
These events might include social interactions, purchases and page visits, with extra parameters for each one and unique names so that you can have greater accuracy and detail in terms of the data collected.
Given the way that data collection in GA4 is based around events and first-party data, the outflow is that powerful new analytical tools are now at your disposal that measure the total lifecycle of user interactions with your site.
- Acquisition – which is how users are guided to your website;
- Engagement – which is how users interact with your site when they’re there and what actions they take;
- Monetisation – which is how user interactions are converted into sales or revenue, and
- Retention – which is how long users remain on the website after being converted into a customer.
This will give you greater insight into how exactly users interact with your website.
One of the best features of the new GA4 is that it uses state-of-the-art AI technology to provide powerful and detailed insights into trends and help you make decisions based on data-based forecasts.
These highlighted trends include things like expected churn rates and various other outcomes, such as the potential for sales and conversions. This will help you plan your marketing strategies more effectively and target the right audiences with the right products.
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