Google Analytics 4: What you need to know

Digital Marketing Blog

Google Analytics 4 allows companies to collect valuable information about users who visit their website and better understand their behavior. Find out more about the differences and benefits compared to its predecessor Universal Analytics here.

What is Google Analytics 4?

And how can I use it for my company?

The successor version of Universal Analytics was first announced by Google in June 2019 and introduced as the standard platform for all new websites in October 2020.

As Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is based on different data models, it is not possible to migrate data from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4. Many website operators see this as a disadvantage, as collected data and seasonal trends can now no longer be used in GA4.

GA4 should ensure that companies can track user engagement in the future without cookies using AI and machine learning. Cookies are already often rejected on websites. Google can fill these gaps to still gain insights from the data.

Google Analytics 4 allows you to analyze a variety of charts and figures via the reports. These include the number of visitors, the clicks on a particular page, the number of conversions, the time spent by visitors and the type of browser used for the search.

Exploratory data analysis can be used to create individual views in free format, exploratory funnel analysis or path analysis. Among other things, this makes it possible to analyse when users left a landing page and optimize this page as a conclusion.

Why is Google Analytics worth it?

More user data

The analysis and statistical evaluation of visitors and their behavior on your website can be activated by integrating a tracking code. This provides you with valuable data to check the performance of your site.

More conversions

In Google Analytics 4, individual goals can be defined, such as subscribing to a newsletter or filling out a contact form. By linking to Google Ads, these goals can be used in the bidding strategy to achieve more conversions.

Google Analytics 4: Everything you need to know about the latest version

Analytics enables companies to collect valuable information about users on their websites and better understand their behavior. Since July 1, 2023, data is no longer processed on Universal Analytics. You can find out what differences there are with the successor Google Analytics 4 and what advantages it brings here.

Event-based tracking

Google Analytics 4 differs significantly from its predecessor Universal Analytics and offers several advantages in the analysis of user data. New functions are regularly added in order to be able to use additional reports in Google Analytics 4. Unlike Universal Analytics, tracking in GA4 is carried out using event-based tags. This allows detailed tracking of user interactions, such as clicking buttons, playing videos or filling out forms.

Machine learning

The machine learning of Google Analytics 4 can be used to fill gaps if users decide not to accept cookies. The use of 3rd party cookies will become less and less possible and less important in the future due to security settings and cookie blockers in the browser. Artificial intelligence is becoming increasingly important in every industry and Google is also using it to analyze patterns and behavior. Website operators can receive recommendations and insights based on this data.

Multi­channel tracking

GA4 can collect data on various websites via the Google Tag Manager. User activities can be tracked across multiple channels. Attribution allows you to see how users reached your website. The performance of the various channels can be compared with each other in GA4 reporting. After the end of the four attribution models (first click, linear, time decay, position-based), the last click model will continue to be available and data-driven attribution will be used as the standard model.

Real-time data

The performance of a website can be tracked in real time in Google Analytics 4. This is particularly relevant for A/B tests. The data focuses on users and events that can be added individually. These events can be specified with 25 parameters and tracked as conversions. Standard events such as pageviews and downloads are preset and recorded automatically.

User interface

Just like the tracking, the GA4 user interface also differs from Universal Analytics. It is designed to be more intuitive and user-friendly, making it even easier to carry out an analysis using the tool. You can quickly find the functions of Google Analytics 4 and view the relevant KPIs for clicks, new users, conversions and much more. Beginners can quickly learn how Google Analytics 4 works by watching how-to articles or videos.

Dash­board and reports

With custom metrics, companies can now also create comprehensive reports that make it easier to work with lots of data. There are many ways to analyze the figures in Google Analytics 4, which are individually suitable for every industry and company size. The data streams can be viewed separately or consolidated. As a GA4 agency, we can advise you on the creation of custom dashboards or set up evaluations such as funnels for you independently.

What are the advantages of Google Analytics 4?

Apart from the general benefits of using a tracking tool, GA4 is particularly future-proof. With machine learning capabilities, the collected data is used more effectively, even without cookies. This cross-device data source can be used for marketing campaigns and to improve the website. After 14 months at the latest, you will be legally compliant thanks to IP anonymization and data deletion. It is worth testing various functionalities and creating user-defined reports. This provides better insights into website optimization.

How does the conversion from Universal Analytics to GA4 work?

As Google Analytics 4 works with a different data model than Universal Analytics, historical data cannot be migrated. However, this historical data can be exported to Google Analytics and integrated into a Looker Studio dashboard as a sheet, for example. To set up GA4, you must first create an Analytics property and follow the steps in the setup wizard. If Universal Analytics has not been used before, a tracking tag must be added to the website.

Is GA4 useful for companies?

Event-based tracking via Google Analytics 4 is essential for the long-term existence and profitable use of a website. You should track your website so that you know how performance is developing and which pages need to be optimized. A large proportion of companies use Google Analytics, which gives them a competitive advantage.

How do I create detailed reports?

A mix of standard reports and custom reports can be created in the exploratory analysis. The data is visualized in pie charts and line charts, among other things. You can choose between funnels or custom funnels, a path analysis, user explorer and other models. Find out which report is right for you!

10 Google Analytics best practice approaches

1. Set the data to be stored for 14 months.

2. Select an attribution model and the time period for tracking.

3. Create user-defined events.

4. Use the link to other Google products such as Google Ads.

5. Create customized reports.

6. Exclude unwanted referral traffic sources in the reports.

7. Test the implementation of GA4 before going live.

8. Make sure you have a legally compliant privacy policy and use cookies.

9. Create multiple GA4 properties for each website you want to track.

10. Analyze which devices are used and how users interact.

Google Analytics 4 Insights

Google Analytics 4 offers comprehensive insights into visitor behavior on a website. Here are some key insights that can be gained using this analytics tool:

1. Number of visitors: Google Analytics 4 enables the precise measurement of the number of visitors to a website. This metric provides basic information about the reach and popularity of the site.

2. Type of browser: Analyzing the types of browsers used by visitors helps to optimize the website for different browsers. This ensures a consistent user experience across different platforms.

3. Visitor time spent on the website: The average time spent on the website is an important indicator of the relevance of the content. Longer dwell times indicate engaged visitors, while short durations may indicate problems with the user experience or content.

4 Search terms for the landing page: Google Analytics 4 allows you to analyze the search terms that led visitors to the landing page. This provides insights into the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and the relevance of the website for certain search queries.

5. Visitor sources such as search engines: The source analysis shows the channels from which visitors reach the website. This includes organic search results, paid advertising, referrals from other websites and direct traffic. This helps to evaluate the effectiveness of different traffic sources.

6. Demographic characteristics: Google Analytics 4 provides information on visitor demographics, including age, gender and location. This enables better targeting and personalization of content.

7. Page visits: The analysis of the pages visited provides insights into the interests and navigation behavior of visitors. Companies can understand which pages are the most popular and where there may be a need for optimization.

8. Clicks on specific buttons or links: By tracking clicks on specific buttons or links, companies can understand which call-to-action elements are effective. This is crucial for optimizing user guidance and conversion rates.

Together, these insights provide a comprehensive view of website visitor behavior and enable companies to optimize their online presence and improve the user experience.

Conclusion

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) offers you a modern and future-proof way to analyze user behavior and make data-based decisions. With improved features such as event-based tracking, machine learning and multi-channel tracking, GA4 enables detailed tracking and analysis of user interactions. The intuitive user interface and customizable dashboards facilitate data interpretation.

Switching to GA4 is essential for legally compliant and effective use. You benefit from comprehensive insights to optimize your online presence and increase conversion rates. If you have any questions or would like a personal consultation, please do not hesitate to contact us!

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Written by:

Senior Consultant

Mario Glashauser is an experienced expert in the field of search engine optimization and analytics. He supports both national and international SEO clients in expanding their digital visibility and online presence.

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