GUIDES

Google Analytics 4: Step-By-Step Full Setup & Implementation Guide

Intro to GA4

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) will replace Universal Analytics (UA) on July 1, 2023.  Before this cut-off date, you might want to run GA4 alongside UA. This will make sure all your past data is accessible alongside any future data. We’ll help you set up GA4 to run in parallel with your existing UA.

If you’re not already using analytics, then we’ll help you to setup your new GA4 property here too!

Setting up GA4 to run in parallel to UA allows you to have access to your pre-GA4 data for the coming year and lets you setup GA4 separately meaning you won’t lose any existing data. We strongly advise you do this so your transition from UA to GA4 is a smooth one.

What’s different in GA4?

GA4 is the latest version of Google Analytics. This latest version combines information from both websites and applications allowing you tostore their data in one location for the first time in GA’s history.

Unlike UA, GA4 covers a variety of devices – mobile, desktop and apps – when it comes to tracking data, putting non-desktop analytics at centre stage.

Why do you need to upgrade to GA4?

The end is nigh for Universal Analytics. That end is July 1, 2023, with data tracking coming to a full halt in October 2023.

 

What is GTM?

In short, Google Tag Manager (GTM) is a platform that allows you to create tags (snippets of code) that track how users behave on your platform.

GTM is a separate hub where these tags are created. They are installed on your website through GTM, before being reported back to you via analytics.

GTM is essentially the middleman between your website and Google Analytics.

Getting started on GA4

Firstly, if you don’t have an existing Google Analytics profile, you’ll want to start by creating one.

To do this, head to – google.com/analytics/

Select ‘Get started today’. Next you can use your email to sign up or sign in.

Creating a new property

A ‘property’ is a location that has its own unique ID to be tracked independently. From within one account you can create multiple properties, for example tracking multiple websites or apps.

  • Head to ‘Admin’ and select ‘Create Property’.
  • From there, populate your business information and answer the additional questions that are related to your business and tracking preferences.

Creating a Data Stream

  • Click to ‘Admin’ cog (bottom left) and in the right hand column choose ‘Data Streams’.
  • Choose a platform. We recommend then selecting ‘Enhanced Measurements’ which are GA4’s new standard page view measurements. In UA, this would need to be set up manually to track – but in GA4 it’s standard if you toggle the switch on!
  • You can choose the cog icon to select which enhanced measurements you’d like to track. Once chosen, select ‘Create Stream’.

GA tracking code

You’ll be presented with a ‘Web stream details’ page, where you can choose the method of implementing a GA4 tracking code – Global Site Tag (gtag.js) and Google Tag Manager (GTM). This guide will follow the GTM method due to the scalability and functionality of the platform.

Google Tag Manager Setup

This is the part of the setup where GTM gets involved. If you’re already using Google Analytics for website tracking, there’s a good chance you’ve already used GTM and have a container or plugin installed on your site.

If you’ve never used GTM before – and don’t have an account or container installed on your site – you’ll need to do this before continuing with this guide.

In this blog, we’re focusing on GA4, so if you’re set up with Tag Manager then read on, if not, go visit our GTM setup guide and come back later!

Implementing GA4 tracking in Tag Manager

To begin creating your GA4 configuration tag, on the GTM website (https://tagmanager.google.com/) select ‘Tags’, ‘New’.

  • Click anywhere in ‘Tag Configuration’ and select ‘Google Analytics: GA4 Configuration’.
  • Once you’ve selected this configuration, head back into Google Analytics – ‘Admin’, ‘Data Streams’, select the ‘Web Stream’ and copy your ‘Measurement ID’.

Head back into GTM, and paste your Measurement ID into the Tag ID section.

  • Once complete, choose the trigger ‘All Pages’ and this will be your basic setup for GA4 tracking complete.
  • Finally, name the tag: GA4 -*THE PURPOSE OF THE TAG* – *YOUR MEASUREMENT ID* and save the tag.

Ensuring your GA4 tag implementation was a success

To ensure your GA4 tag is working correctly, head into GA, go to ‘Configure’, ‘DebugView’.

Here you can see a live feed of all ‘Event’ data on your website that GA4’s standard settings let you track. For this setup, performing the Events ‘Click’ or ‘Scroll’ will be fine.

Go back to GTM ‘Tags’, ‘Preview’ – this will open Tag Assistant in a new tab. Enter your URL and click ‘Connect’.

Once you click ‘Connect’ a new tab will automatically open with the entered URL, connecting Tag Assistant to the site.

Go back to the Tag Assistant window to ensure they are connected.

  • Now go back to your ‘DebugView’ window.
  • Keeping Tag Assistant connected, you can open the web page you have connected and perform ‘Events’ (Clicks, Scrolls etc). If connected correctly, these actions from your device should appear in real-time through the DebugView Event data feed.

Finally, once the checks are completed successfully, head back into GTM, select ‘Submit’, and enter ‘Version Name’ as ‘GA4 Installation’.

If you’re seeing the live data in DebugView through Google Analytics, you have successfully implemented the GA4 tag configuration. Repeat this process with every future tag you decide to implement to ensure they are properly tracking the requested event data.

Bonus GA4 info you need to know

Now you’re up and running with GA4, here are some things you should definitely be aware of that come with the biggest revamp of the platform for over a decade!

  • In GA4 ‘Goals’ have been replaced by ‘Conversions’
  • Bounce Rate no longer exists in GA4
  • Landing page report will need to be manually implemented in GA4
  • GA4 is still in its infancy, the platform is changing all the time with new features being added, renamed and relocated
  • More Conversion events than in UA – increase from 20 to 30 per property
  • GA4 can track mobile and app data, meaning a separate Firebase platform isn’t required
  • BigQuery is not a GA360 exclusive anymore, it is now in GA4 for free
  • More GDPR focused – all IP data is anonymous by default and now GA4 has the option to delete individual user data via IP address

If you’re interested in learning more about the new features GA4 has to offer, or the difference between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4, be sure to check out our Analytics blog series to learn all that and more!