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Setting up Google Analytics 4: when, why, and how

Published: April 27 2022

On July 1, 2023, Google is moving from Universal Analytics to the much more modular Google Analytics 4 (GA4). If you use Google Analytics, this is an important date for you to note. 

If you created an Analytics account after October 14, 2020, you’ll likely already be using the GA4 interface. Otherwise, you’ll need to manually transition before July 1, 2023. If you don’t make the transition, you will not be transitioned automatically. This step is mandatory for anyone wishing to continue actively recording data using their Google Analytics account.

While July 2023 may seem like a long way away, we recommend you set up GA4 sooner rather than later so you can have both Universal Analytics and GA4 running at the same time. This will allow you to optimise your data collection in preparation for the termination of Universal Analytics.

You’ll also need to export your data from Universal Analytics within six months of the July 1, 2023 deadline—by the end of 2023, your Universal Analytics properties will no longer be available

Why do I need to transition to GA4?

To put it simply, if you don’t make the transition and export your data before the end of 2023, you will no longer have access to anything tracked in previous years.

Historical Google Analytics data is invaluable for your business. It can help you see trends in traffic to your site, assess whether or not your previous ad campaigns were successful, see how your user’s have navigated your site over time, and give you a baseline for understanding how your website is performing today.

Even if you’ve never used Google Analytics to do these things before, you should still hold onto that data because—trust us—one day you’ll need it.

Data limitations in GA4: properly configuring your settings

One of the biggest changes between Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics is the data limitations. 

While Universal Analytics allows you to hang onto your data infinitely, GA4 does not. Standard GA4 formatting places your data on 2 month cycles, which, after some manual configuration, can be extended to up to 14 months.

However, it is important to note that age, gender, and interest data will remain on a two-month retention period, regardless of your settings.

If you want to save your data for longer than 14 months, you can export and share reports, and compare data from different years using Google Data Studio.

How to transition to GA4

If you’re familiar with installing and configuring Google Analytics properties, you can manually transition from Universal Analytics to GA4 by following the steps laid out on Google’s support site.

However, since the process is complex and it is crucial that you do it correctly in order to maintain your data and have a smooth transition to the new interface, we highly recommend you seek help if you need it.

We have a team of expert developers who are already working with clients to ensure they seamlessly transition to GA4. Whether you’re a current client or a friendly face we have yet to meet, we’re always happy to answer any questions or take this off your plate entirely by doing it on your behalf.

Contact us today!