In this episode, we’re discussing the elephant in the room. That’s right, folks – we’re talking about GA4! We’ll cover the differences between Universal Analytics and GA4, and how you can work around them to effectively track your marketing and advertising efforts.
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Episode 23 Summary
- As of July 1, 2023, Google had officially sunsetted Universal Analytics in favor of its new website analytics tool, GA4. Those who had been using Universal Analytics, commonly called “UA”, quickly discovered that there were some bigger differences between the data collected and reported, along with a new interface to learn to navigate.
- WPBeginner had a well-stated overview of the main differences between UA and GA4. They said, “Universal Analytics used a measurement model based on sessions and pageviews. Whereas GA4 uses an event-based model to track your data.” This can be seen in many instances throughout the dashboard.
- Tied into the event-based model, GA4 is heavily focused on engagement. Per Google, “An engaged session is a session that lasts longer than 10 seconds, has a conversion event, or has at least 2 pageviews”. Therefore, “engagement rate is the percentage of engaged sessions on your website”.
- Engagement rate is also the opposite of bounce rate. Bounce rate is a metric those long-time UA users were accustomed to seeing. In UA, it meant someone landed on and left from the same page of your website without clicking to any other pages. GA4 has added a caveat to that; a bounce is a session less than 10 seconds long that lacks any engagement
- A commonly-used metric in UA was Users. In fact, UA had Total Users and New Users. And in GA4, there are:
- – Total Users (Unique users who logged an event)
- – New Users (Users who interacted with your site for the first time)
- – Active Users (Users who have an “engaged session”).
- Similarly, UA had Pageviews and Unique Pageviews. These were a count of pages viewed by a single visitor during a single visit. If a user revisited the same page 3 times on that visit, Unique Pageviews would count it as 1 and Pageviews would count it as 3. With GA4, the comparable metric is simply “Views” and repeated views of a single page are counted. There is no unique views metric in GA4.
- For those tracking their website analytics, the biggest points to know are that the new GA4 data isn’t going to be an apples to apples comparison to your UA data, and that the rules around and definitions of common analytics terms have changed. Once you’ve had GA4 active for at least 12 months, you can start doing some year over year comparisons.
Episode 23 Takeaways
Liz: If you haven’t already switched to GA4, do so now. And don’t stress about the new data coming in; it’s going to take some time before you have year-over-year comparison data.
Ronda: If you have a different tool that tracks website analytics, lean into that more during the transition time between UA and GA4.
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