Here you will learn the basic of getting up and running with GA4.
We’ve all seen the notifications announcing the arrival of Google Analytics 4 for some time now. Many companies have delayed setting up their new GA4 properties until the last minute, but now you really need to take action.
If you don’t set up your new Google Analytics 4 account, you run the risk of losing important website data. You could be left completely in the dark about how users are interacting with your website. You could also be left with gaps in your data which will make it difficult to track progress.
If you’re wondering if your GA4 property has been set up correctly and is accurately tracking website data, run through this extensive checklist:
- Check that your website tagging is GA4-ready, using either Google Tag or GTM.
- In the admin settings, confirm that your data stream is sending information to your GA4 property. If this isn’t working correctly, you might need specialist support to get this up and running.
- Set up Google product links, as required. You’ll need these for:
- Search console
- Ads, Search Ads 360, Display and Video 360
- Merchant centre
- Configure and check your attribution settings, including:
- Attribution model
- Look-back window. Make sure you use the maximum time, unless there is a very specific reason to narrow this.
- Enable new GA4 features, if you want these active.
- Google Signals will allow you to access audience exports and cross-platform reporting.
- Enhanced Event Measurement will allow you to automatically collect user journey information to help improve your website UX.
- In the Events section, make sure that everything you want to track is populated.
- Identify which events are conversions
- Confirm that your purchase event data is aligned with your expectations.
- Import the GA4 conversions in your Google Ads account as secondary conversions. This will allow you to quality-check the data. From the 1st July, these should be your primary conversion actions. (Note: it’s also perfectly fine to continue to use Google Ads tag with Enhanced Conversions.)
- Start building audiences as soon as possible as this will allow you to start collecting data ahead of July 1st. If these are created after July 1st, then they won’t be accessible straight away which can leave you with blindspots in your data. If you don’t already make use of these, now would be an excellent time to set them up. You’ll need to consider:
- Remarketing audiences, such as high engagement visitors and abandoned carts
- Exclusion audiences, such as recent purchasers. You should also exclude internal traffic so you aren’t tracking your own team and their website use as this can skew your data.
- Reporting audiences to help with comparisons
- Set up your custom GA4 interface in the report library
- Start by exploring the defaults to see if there are any templates that are useful to you. These may be created based on your linked associates with properties like Search Console.
- Create custom reports that are specific to your organisation. What are the questions that you are always asking yourself about your audience, and how could these be answered using the data available to you? Keep these simple to be the most effective.
- Create your own collections in the report library. This will allow you to group reports together and see them under subtitles in the navigation bar, which is similar in style to the Universal Analytics interface.
- Build your own Exploration templates that will allow you to carry out more in-depth analysis in the future. This isn’t a required step, but it can help you to explore the limits and possibilities of GA4.
- All ecommerce businesses should build a simple Exploration that will show them revenue alongside the Default Channel Group and/or Source/Medium.
This will allow you to see a much better representation of multi-touch journeys than last click. You might be in the habit of checking channel group or source/medium to see grouped channel performance. With GA4, the “Session Acquisition” report will use last non-direct click data, as it’s based on sessions rather than events.
The GA4 attribution model is based on event-scoped data, which is at the core of all GA4 functionality. By using Exploration view to review channel performance, you’ll be able to make the most of these features.
- Once you have got to grips with the privacy implications, you can then set up Google’s Consent Mode, which will enable GA4 to start modelling the data that is lost when website visitors decline your cookies. This is an incredible data set that can help you with better decision making.
- First, learn more about how data modelling works so that you can appreciate the implications from a privacy perspective. Some people in your organisation might want a more detailed explanation or justification for moving forward with this.
- The final step is to get to grips with the way GA4 and UA display information so that you can confidently navigate between the two. Rather than seeing this as a direct swap, you might need to learn new methods for gathering insight from your data. The good news is that GA4 is a lot more powerful and offers new opportunities for understanding your audience and acting on the information available to you.
This is not an exhaustive list and your setup might be different depending on your website purpose and visitors. If you have doubts about GA4, it’s best to seek expert advice sooner rather than later, as you could be missing out on key data if your properties are not set up correctly.
If you’re concerned about your GA4 setup, speak to a trusted agency to help get things on the right track. GA4 offers a lot more insight than UA, and many companies are barely scratching the surface of what they can learn from their website visitors.
If you want to make sure you are making decisions based on data, you need to know how to access it. Get in touch to learn how we can help you to make the most of your GA4 properties.
I'm Paul Gordon an SEO freelancer who has spent the last 16 years helping businesses expand and grow through effective SEO strategies.