Google recently launched Google Analytics 4 (GA4), the next evolution of Google Analytics. We’ve discussed the importance of using Google Analytics and how you can use it to help optimise your website, and GA4 helps you go one step further!
GA4 is now the default experience for new Analytics users. For existing users, Google invites users to upgrade to GA4 by creating a new property to run parallel with Universal Analytics (the one you’re currently using). If you’re on the fence about it, we recommend that you set up GA4! That way, you get the best of both worlds.
Read on to discover a few new features available on GA4 and how they can help you develop and improve your website.
1. Brand new user settings interface
Universal Analytics features three types of data settings, namely Account, Property and View. GA4 features only two, which are Account and Property. This new version of Google Analytics also defines certain elements a bit differently compared to previous versions.
Events – which are user interactions that include page views, clicks, or interactions – no longer require customised code all the time for on-site tracking.
What used to be known as Dimensions are now known as Parameters. These are essentially the small details that provide content to a website user action or event, like page titles or specific funnels.
eCommerce reporting is also now known as Monetisation, and features new tags for corresponding actions that are still pretty common sense. For example, what was “promoView” is now “view_promotion”.
Understanding how to use GA4 will definitely take some getting used to, and Google themselves have pointed out that it’s better to adjust how you collect your data based on the GA4 model rather than trying to translate your existing Analytics approach to GA4.
2. New search bar
The newly optimised search function on GA4 builds on Google’s AI (also known as artificial intelligence or machine learning).
The search bar features towards the top left of your screen after your Google Analytics 4 Account/Property name.
You can search for:
- Instant answers
You can now use natural language to find immediate answers to your queries, such as “conversions last week from Australia” and see the answer immediately, with an option to click on results for further insight. This is a new feature and several questions will take time for the tool to evolve and collect. Be direct in your questions as best as possible.
- Reports, admin pages, or insights
For reports, typing the name of a report or a keyword related to a report will get you a list of reports that include them. You can also search for comparative date ranges. For example, “page views last month compared to last year” returns reports with the Page Views or the previous month compared to the same month a year ago.
You can also navigate to pages in Analytics Admin and discover relevant Insights the same way.
- Account or property configuration
You can search for terms like Account ID, Property ID, or Measurement ID without having to navigate through Analytics to find them (trust us, this can save you a lot of time in the long run – ask us how we know!).
- Help content
The new search function can be used to find specific articles to help troubleshoot issues or navigate Google Analytics 4.
3. Real time reports
The real time reports are continually updated, with new hits reported just seconds after they happen. You can see how many users are on your site right now, and what pages they’re interacting with. Real time reports do feature in Universal Analytics but have further evolved in GA4 with a focus on what events your visitors are doing.
How do real time reports help you? Among other things, it can allow you to:
- See if new or updated content is being viewed
- Monitor whether a one-day promotion is driving traffic to your site, and which pages the users are actually viewing
- Check the immediate impact that a social post is having on your website traffic
- Verify that the tracking code is working on your site or app
- Check that goals are being completed whenever you test changes to your site
Universal Analytics Real Time Report
Google Analytics 4 Real Time Report
4. Access to Analysis Hub
A powerful way to get actionable insights on your users, Analysis Hub was only available in 360 but is now available to everyone. Analysis is an excellent tool that allows you to discover insights, including those from Google Ads, and then turn them into actions.
You can configure it in a way that is helpful to you, removing and adding dimensions and metrics quickly and easily. Once you’ve discovered data sets that are important or could have a potential impact on your business, you can export them to use in other tools.
5. Enhanced measurement without additional coding
One of the most exciting new features in GA4 is called “enhanced measurement,” which automatically tracks file downloads, outbound clicks, video interactions, site search, and scroll events via the base GA4 tag.
You can simply turn on enhanced measurement from the GA4 interface; No additional code or tagging is required. To do this go to Admin > Data Streams > Select your website > Ensure the toggle is blue (on) position. You can also decide to turn on or off some of the events by clicking the gear icon and using the on and off blue toggle switches.
This will also mean that your bounce rate will likely be lower, as in previous times unless you custom tagged events in Universal Analytics, your bounce rate was based on every time a page loaded on your website and did not take into consideration other actions like watching videos on your website (if the visitor did not click to load another page on your site).
6. New DebugView tool to track events
Tracking down a bug on your website can be a painstaking task even for the most experienced and tech-savvy folks! The new debug tool on GA4 can track and validate your Analytics configuration during the development stage so you can avoid nasty surprises. More importantly, it’s a great way to identify issues when they happen.
7. Admin section simplified and app data combined
Most settings (now 2 layers) live under property and have been simplified compared to the current setup that has three layers.
Data streams let you bring in things like your app data. So if you have an app, you get even greater insights and a clearer story to tell for your users.
Previously, you’d need to set up analytics for your website and then your app. Now you can see the experience in one platform and help to reduce retargeting to those who have already converted or done certain actions in your app environment.
8. Google signals helps with personalisation
When you activate Google signals on GA4, you’ll be able to perform cross-platform personalisation for your website for users that have Ads Personalization switched on.
This type of personalisation can aid in cross-platform reporting, remarketing, and advertising. There are existing tools in Universal Analytics that do this, but there are a few differences in the use of Google signals using GA4.
9. More varied definitions of user engagement
A visitor is automatically labelled as “engaged” if they spend longer than 10 seconds on the site, view 2 or more pages/screens, or complete a conversion event. There is also a new scroll depth measurement for enhanced engagement which is exciting as it’s more than “average time on page” in terms of helpfulness. This data coupled with insights from a heatmap like hotjar can allow you to better understand how your content is performing or converting.
Is it time for you to use Google Analytics 4?
Short answer: yes!
Long answer: while GA4 is bound to be a useful tool for your website development in the long run, it’s still very new, which means there won’t be any historical data. So if you are still using Universal Analytics, we recommend that you use both at the same time. Also, because GA4 is still evolving and many features are yet to come.
Follow this handy resource for a guide on how to set up the tag.
Are you feeling overwhelmed with Google Analytics 4? Get in touch with us so we can help you discover how to use GA4 for your website and help your business grow!