What is GA4 and How Will It Affect My Business?

The Google ecosystem is one experiencing constant change as Google themselves try to find the algorithmic golden formula of search ranking and marketing favourability. Of course, web performance and tracking are intrinsically linked and by striving to stay up-to-date on the various facets of performance you give your website the best opportunity to succeed. Google Analytics is a platform offering a drill down into the data that defines the success of a business and has long been a staple of digital marketing. With the dawn of 2023, Google has now decided to elevate their tracking property into the new age with an update to GA4 (succeeding the GA3 version which many are familiar with).

Changes in GA4

The main question you might ask yourself upon hearing that Google is redeveloping its tracking platform is – ‘What’s actually changing?’ In all honesty, not as much as you might expect. As in GA3 before it, GA4 offers much of the same in terms of trackables and apart from its flashy new UI, you would be forgiven for thinking this upheaval is very much more of the same.

  • One of the major changes you might notice (or not notice if you have no need for it), is the ability to now track the data from an application as well as a website whereas only figures from sites were trackable on GA3. This is especially helpful for larger organisations where there may be several different systems in place with GA4 compiling all of these into a nice and tidy dashboard.
  • Meeting data compliance has never been one of Google’s key strengths, but with the incoming GA4 it promises to do better; Google have even gone so far as to state that this new update was built from the ground up with the idea of privacy in mind. According to their press releases (and no doubt their lawyers) the older universal analytics system had some privacy options that could simply not be fixed in their current version, hence the need for a new model.
  • Onto the changes you might actually need to learn how to use – Google has made some substantial changes to the way conversions and events are tracked/recorded with there being far more options for setting parameters. Coming pre-bundled, there are also a selection of new pre-made actions that – unlike in GA3 – will not require a manual set-up.

How Will These Affect My Business

At Odyssey New Media we’ve been using GA4 for several months now and certainly don’t anticipate that the switch over will negatively impact any businesses as long as this has been set up correctly. Of course, there will be a slight adjustment period in which you will need to learn where certain data can be found on account of Google changing the names of the categories and removing some sections entirely. You might actually find that the additional event and conversion tracking features are incredibly practical for your business and will allow you to better track the performance of certain products or services as well as the points in which your conversion funnel might need to be honed.

Please note, the initial set-up for GA4 can pose a challenge if you’re unfamiliar with your website’s backend and you may wish to enlist the help of Odyssey New Media to help guide you through this process.

Do I Need to Move Over to GA4?

While Google isn’t actively forcing you to move over to GA4, the lifecycle of GA3 is nearing its end with the platform no longer tracking data from the 1st of July 2023. You don’t actually need Google Analytics for your website to function but without it you will be left completely in the dark in regards to visits, conversions, as well as any other trackables.

We highly recommend that if you have a GA3 profile, you begin looking into how a transfer can be carried out. Being aware of the flaws and strengths of your online systems is fundamental in ensuring your businesses’ ongoing success.

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