Table of contents
We are less than a month away from the moment everyone has been waiting for! The days of Universal Analytics are inevitably drawing to a close, so I hope you’re already on board with the new analytics tool that is Google Analytics 4 If so, I’ve put together a checklist of the most important elements you should make sure are working and enabled before July 1 arrives, just for you. So launch GA4, make yourself a good cup of coffee, grab a piece of paper and a pen and tick off each item on our list.
Create GA4 service
This is an excerpt intended for those who don’t yet have a GA4 service created (hopefully this doesn’t apply to you!) and would like to create one and start configuring it as soon as possible.
To create a Google Analytics 4 service:
- Log in to your Google Analytics Universal service
- Go to “Administration”
- In the “Service” section, click the blue “Create Service”
- Select the GA4 service and fill in the basic information (such as country, currency, company size and the purposes for which you are creating GA4)
- You will see a window informing you that Google Analytics 4 has been created – you can close it
- You will then land in the GA4 interface, from there go in “Administration” to the “Service” section, and there to “Data Stream”
- Now you need to create the corresponding data stream. Remember that you create a stream for the web page separately, for the IOS app separately, and for the Android app separately
- When configuring the data stream, fill in such information as the name (remember to name it correctly! We do not call services e.g. “Test” etc., because no one will know later what it is about :)). Also provide the address of the website to which it applies GA4.
- Got it done! Now you can proceed to configure GA4 on your website.
Installation and configuration of GA4
Before we even get into the individual settings, check that you have Google Analytics 4 implemented correctly. What does “correctly” mean and how can it be done?
- Installing the GA4 tracking tag manually in the site code,
- Installing the tag using a special plug-in dedicated to your CMS,
- Installing the tag using Google Tag Manager
As you can see, there are several ways to do this, but personally (like most marketers and analysts) I recommend you use to configure through GTM. This is a special tool from Google that is dedicated to installing and managing analytics and marketing codes on sites, without interfering with the site code. With this tool, you will become independent to your developers in most cases (which also means saving money and time), and you will have all trackers organized in one place. In addition, Google Tag Manager allows you to manage consents using, for example, the Cookiebot tool. So if you are not yet familiar with and have used GTM, I highly encourage you to make friends with it. I guarantee you will thank yourself for it in the future 🙂
What do you need to remember when implementing GA4?
The first big step is behind us – we already have GA4 set up and configured. Now we’re getting down to the nitty-gritty – that is, our checklist and settings you still need to keep in mind.
- Check the validity of the ecommerce data layer
GA4, unlike Universal, relies primarily on events, so their correctness along with the passed parameters is very important. Admittedly, most of the events found in the data layer are the same as in the predecessor, but there are a few new ones (including add_payment_info, add_shipping_info, view_cart and add_to_wishlist). So if you want to know the details of the products a user selects in your store, you need a properly implemented data layer. Ask a developer or get digital agency to update the datalayer with the new elements that appear in Google Analytics 4. Then you can upload the information to GA4 either using plugins for specific ecommerce platforms or using Google Tag Manager. Of course, at the end, run some tests and pay attention to what information is transferred in the data layer.
If you want to find up-to-date information about ecommerce events, type “Recommended GA4 event list” into the search engine and click on the first link from Google Support.
- Exclude payment gateways
Remember this point especially if you have an online store. You do not need in your reports information that the main source of traffic to your store is, for example, some payment gateway from which the user came after paying for the order. On the Internet you will find plenty of examples of various payment gateway statements for exclusion, which you just need to copy and set up in your Google Analytics 4. You can find payment gateway exclusion options in “Administration” → “Data Stream” → “Configure tag settings” → then expand the entire, available list and click “List of unwanted referring sites”.
- Filter internal company traffic
This option is very similar to the one in Universal Analytics. You can find it in the section “Administration” → “Data Stream” → “Configure tag settings”. → expand the entire, available list and select “Define internal traffic”.
- Enable Google Signals
This is a very important feature in GA4! It will allow Google Analytics 4 to identify users who are accessing your site on different devices (as long as they are logged into their Google account, for example)
With Google Signals, we can also see data on age, gender and interests. To enable Google Signals in the “Administration” section, head to “Data Settings” and then click “Data Collection.”
- Confirm your user data collection information
This option is in the same place as enabling Google Signals, you just need to rescroll a bit. You will need it if you want to importrecipient lists from GA4 to Google Ads.
- Change the storage time of event data
- Connect Google Analytics 4 with your Google Ads account
If you’re creating ads in Google Ads, be sure to link the two tools together. Keep in mind, however, that you must have administrator privileges on both the GA4 service and the Google Ads account you want to link to this Analytics service.
- Connect GA4 with Google Search Console
Situation identical to point above – if you are conducting SEO activities, connect both accounts so that you can check search terms from GA4 for example.
- Create dimensions and custom data
If you’ve been using them in Universal Analytics, be sure to create them in the new tool. Without doing so, you may find over time that in both standard and non-standard reports you may not be able to pull out the parameters of interest for selected events (such as currency or total_price).
- Enable inter-domain tracking
This setting, known as cross domain tracking, is especially useful if you have several subdomains on your site. With this, a user moving between different domains will be understood by GA4 as the same user by, among other things, the session_id parameter.
- Enable automatic creation of Google Analytics 4
To do this, please return to your old Universal Analytics and go to the “Administration” section. Then click the option “Service Configuration Assistant in Google Analytics 4”, and then turn off the slider that says “Automatically configure the basic service in Google Analytics 4”.
Why is this an important setting that you should also not forget about?
In the spring of this year, Google announced that if someone does not have a GA4 service set up, there is nothing to worry about, Google will do it for us. Did this happen? That’s a question you’ll have to answer for yourself; I, in my accounts, have yet to see a case of Google creating GA4 on its own. On the other hand, if it does happen, what will be done as part of the automatic transition to GA4:
- Google will create a new Google Analytics 4 (GA4) service and merge it with the current Google Universal Analytics (GUA) service.
- The new GA4 service will have features configured as in GUA: goals, connections to Google Ads, Search Console, etc.
This seems like a good solution, but… It depends. If you don’t particularly pay attention to analytics (and you should! 🙂 ) and look at Google Analytics a few times a year, then you can let Google do it for you. On the other hand, you should definitely take advantage of the potential of Google Analytics 4 and take the time to set up the tool yourself. Otherwise, it can become a big mess. And clutter is the last thing we want in analytics. Besides, if a new tool comes out, it’s the perfect opportunity to clean up, because when if not now?
On this occasion, I would like to raise another important point. If, before the news that Google will do all the work for you, you have already created a GA4 and you think that this information no longer applies to you, then unfortunately, but I must lead you astray. Because if Google sees that you don’t have Universal Analytics and GA4 combined here, it may treat this as a lack of GA4 and create this service again. This, in turn, will result in an override on what you have already created and configured yourself, so all your work so far will be in vain. Therefore, please very much check in the “Administration” section of the old Analytics how this situation looks for you. If you haven’t yet caught the automatic creation of GA4 and don’t want it and/or you already have GA4, and this option is still enabled with you – disable it and connect Universal Analytics to GA4.
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The enormity of GA4’s capabilities may overwhelm you at first, but find out that the devil is not as scary as they paint him. We’ll get through it together!
Hopefully this article was just a reminder of the most important settings for you and you have ticked off all the points from your checklist. If, on the other hand, you would need help with GA4 implementation or configuration, please contact us. We will be happy to help you and additionally train you on how to use Google Analytics 4