How to Prepare for GA4

Everyone in the business of owning or running websites knows (and dreads) that the migration to Google Analytics 4 is close at hand. While this big change has been looming for a while, there is now a hard date of July 1st, 2023 when Universal Analytics will stop processing hits. So, all organizations will need to have made the move to GA4 by that date, and you’ll likely want to do it well in advance of that deadline to make sure you are up and running properly with the new platform.

Given the importance of Google Analytics in millions of businesses, it’s understandable that there is quite a bit of angst surrounding this move. But it doesn’t have to be that way – with some education and a bit of preparation, you can make this switch seamlessly and continue tracking the website performance stats that drive key decisions in your organization.

Outline Your Current Uses
Many businesses use Google Analytics for far more than just keeping track of how many visits come to a website. There are countless tracking features that you can set up in Analytics to help you understand what is working on your site and what needs to be improved. If you’ve been tracking metrics on your site for years, you might take for granted the access to some of the custom reports and data tracking that is in place. Take the time necessary to outline everything you currently use in Universal Analytics, so you can seek to get similar information out of GA4.

Run Both in Parallel
One of the best things you can do to make this a smooth transition and to ease your nerves over this switch is to run both GA4 and UA at the same time for a while. This is easy enough to do – just head into your Google account and activate GA4 right away. This will not automatically turn off UA, so you can begin to gather data on both platforms.

After some time has passed – at least a few weeks – take a close look at the data you’ve been collecting to see where it looks similar and how it differs. You might be able to map certain differences to specific events, so you can better understand how tracking will be changed once GA4 is your only option. Some places to search for discrepancies include traffic sources, locations, and even browsers.

Why You Should Start Now
GA4 is a powerful platform with a lot to offer, but it is fundamentally different from Universal Analytics. Given that reality, this isn’t going to be like updating an app or adding a new plugin to your WordPress installation. It’s going to be a bigger change and it will require some time and attention to get it right. Starting as soon as possible will help you make sure everything is functioning correctly in your GA4 account before the July 1st, 2023 date arrives. For a better understanding of the key differences between GA4 and Universal Analytics check out our previous blog Google Analytics 4: What you need to know.

Putting off the work of switching to GA4 isn’t going to help you get over this hurdle. Instead of procrastination, opt to be proactive and get started on this migration right away. Soon enough, you’ll be tracking all of your key metrics within the new platform and you can get back to focusing on the things that really move the need for your brand.