What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics (GA) draws data from your website to give you a multi-faceted view as to how your website is performing. It is Google’s most popular free tool.
GA offers insights on who your visitors are and how they interact with your site, how visitors arrived at your site, what they looked at on your site and whether they “converted” (took the actions you wanted them to take).
There is an enormous amount of data on GA, so the intuitive nature of the drill-down is particularly helpful.
Want to get started? See this helpful guide from SEMrush.
In July 2023, Google Analytics is being replaced by “Google Analytics 4” (GA4). The platform has been completely re-written and offers new functionality in terms of :
- Artificial Intelligence
- Integration with Google’s other platforms
What you need to know about Google Analytics 4
Google Analytics will remain available, but will no longer process new data from 1st July 2023.
As the AI is different, GA4 is not backwards compatible with GA, so if you want year on year comparisons without having to refer cross platform, you need to set up your GA4 by the end of June 2022. Here’s how to do it.
Remember that there is new AI in GA4, so the your results across the 2 platforms may not match.
Google Search Console
What is it Google Search Console?
Search Console looks at how your data appears in the Google Search Engine and can be used to optimize your search performance. It helps in 3 ways –
- GSC shows you data around what was served to customers when your search terms were presented to them.
- The URL inspection tool shows you how Google has crawled, indexed and served information about your pages
- You can set up alerts so that Google tells you when it comes across an issue.
Here are the instructions for setting up GSC
Connecting GSC to GA4
The connection does not happen automatically, so you will need to switch it from GA to GA4. Search Console can only connect to one instance of Analytics, so you’ll need to make the change when you start using GA4 for your day to day reporting.
Here’s the information from Google as to what you need to do.
Google Tag Manager
What is Google Tag Manager?
Tag Manager helps allows you to tag events in your customer journey so that you can measure them within your Analytics.
GTM has 2 elements, “Configuration tags”, which track behaviour such as cookies, and “Events tags” which allow you to measure specific visitor interactions which occur on your site so that you can see whether you are achieving sub-goals, giving you a deeper understanding of your customer journey.
Here’s a good guide to getting going with GTM.
Creating Tags for GA4
You will need to recreate your tags in GA4 as they will not automatically transfer over from GA.
Google has published this article about connecting GTM to GA4.
Google Data Studio
What is Data Studio?
Data Studio is a reporting tool that sits over multiple platforms, allowing you to create visualizations of the story from your data. You can connect from a variety of data sources to create bespoke reports, to create a complete picture of what your data is telling you.
It comes with templates that you can use, or you can create your own. You can schedule reports too.
You can use Data studio at quite a basic level, or as an advanced Data Analyst – Google offers free training courses to help you develop your skills.
Connecting GA4 to Data Studio
If you have reports set up, we’d recommend duplicating them, and then changing the connector in the copy from your old GA to GA4. This way you can parallel run your reports so you can start to understand the differences in the data. This is important, as the AI for GA4 is more sophisticated than that in GA, so will give different results.
Connecting GA4 is the same as adding any other connector – find out more here.
The new Google Analytics 4 platform will give it’s users a greater insight into their data, with greater ease. However, as it’s not backwards compatible with Google Analytics, you need to act now to make sure you have easy access to all of your reporting suite in July 2023.
Your web developer should be able to support you through the change-over (all of the sites we manage have GA4 already set up), but if you need any help, please do just contact us.