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Master the Transition: Your Comprehensive Guide to Google Analytics 4 Migration

The digital landscape is constantly evolving, and the tools we use to navigate it must adapt accordingly. One such tool is Google Analytics, an invaluable asset for any organisation seeking to understand and improve its online presence. The latest version, Google Analytics 4 (GA4), presents a significant upgrade from Universal Analytics (UA).

This guide will take you through every step of migrating from UA to GA4. However, if you require professional assistance, ESMA Web Agency offers comprehensive GA4 migration and set-up services.

Master the Transition: Your Comprehensive Guide to Google Analytics 4 Migration

Why Migrate to Google Analytics 4?

You’re likely already using Google Analytics, most probably the Universal Analytics version (also known as GA3 or UA). However, as of 1st July 2023, Google will cease to collect data via the free version of Google UA. This impending deadline necessitates a swift and strategic shift to Google Analytics 4 (GA4). Unlike the previous update from Classic Analytics (GA2) to Universal Analytics (GA3), this migration is not as straightforward.

There are numerous differences between UA and GA4, and some UA features are not present in GA4. However, this comprehensive guide will ensure your transition is as smooth as possible. Or, if you would prefer, the experts at ESMA Web Agency are on hand to support you through the process.

Phase 1: Launch Your GA4 Property

Your first step in migrating to GA4 is the creation and launch of your GA4 properties. As these new properties will not import historical data from UA, it’s crucial to establish them as soon as possible. From the moment of creation, your GA4 property will begin tracking data.

Here's how you can launch your new GA4 property:

  • Create the new GA4 property within your Google Analytics account.
  • Add the new GA4 tracking tag to your website. This is most conveniently achieved through Google Tag Manager.
  • Once you have deployed your GA4 property, it’s important to monitor it over the subsequent days to ensure that it is correctly tracking and recording data. 

 

If you need support in setting up your GA4 property, the team at ESMA Web Agency can guide you through the process. Click here

Phase 2: Itemise Your Key Tracking Components

The next phase involves identifying and listing your key tracking items. New GA4 properties will not automatically inherit these from any UA properties. Therefore, you’ll need to identify which elements you wish to track in your GA4 property. These may include:

 

  • Events
  • Goals (now termed “Conversions” in GA4)
  • Content Groupings
  • Custom Dimensions/Metrics
  • Referral Exclusions
  • Product Link Connections
  • Audiences

 

Once you’ve compiled your list, assess each item. Determine which are essential, which are no longer required, and where gaps may exist that could be filled by new tracking items. Remember, with GA4, you’re limited to 30 conversions per property, so choose your goals wisely.

Phase 3: Migrate Your Key Items to GA4

With your list of key items at the ready, the real setup work begins. Below we’ll explore how to migrate some of the most common items to GA4. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by this process, remember that ESMA Web Agency is here to help.

Events

Events in GA4 are similar to UA setup, but you may need to set up the tagging anew for GA4 goals. Some events that you have manually set up in the past, like scroll depth, are now automatically added for you in GA4. Google Tag Manager is the easiest tool to use for this effort​​.

Goals (Conversions)

In GA4, goals are now renamed “Conversions”, and all goals are event-based. When migrating your existing UA goals to GA4, start with the event-based goals, which are more similar to the original goal setup in UA. For goals that were previously destination-based or engagement-based, you’ll need to add the goal to GA4 via the interface or via code​​.

Content Groupings

In GA4, all content groups are created through page tagging, which requires a lot of time investment at the onset. Google Tag Manager is the simplest way to implement these.

Custom Dimensions/Metrics

This requires setup in both the interface and the code. Your existing UA custom dimensions and metrics tags may migrate over fine to GA4, but you will still need to set up the dimensions and metrics in the GA4 property interface​.

Referral Exclusions

These still exist in GA4, but they’ve essentially been renamed and moved a few layers down from the top admin navigation levels. To add referral exclusions, select Data Streams, then your site data stream (your URL), and then select More Tagging Settings under the Additional Settings section. Finally, click Configure Your Domains and enter your domain and any other domains. 

Need Support Migrating to Google Analytics 4?

If this process sounds daunting or if you’re unsure about any of the steps, professional assistance might be a good option. At ESMA Web Agency, we provide specialised services for GA4 migration and setup. Need support migrating or setting up GA4? Let us support you through this process. Visit our GA4 Migration & Setup Services page and complete the enquiry form. One of our team will be in touch to assist you.