Ahead of Universal Analytics being “sunsetted” in July 2023 we’ve been implementing and testing Google Analytics 4 on a number of websites in recent months. If you’ve never seen the new GA4 dashboard before then you’ll undoubtedly notice changes to the navigation and types of reports available, but providing you’re familiar with previous versions of Google Analytics you’ll soon be pulling out useful data.
However, there are some new features and differences in way the data is presented. Below we’ve put together our top takeaways from our recent testing:
The Debug View Is Awesome
If you use Google Tag Manager to set up detailed tracking of the way your users are interacting with your website then you’ll love the DeBug View. Once you have set up any type of tracking you can test it by firstly going into preview mode in Tag Manager, and then going straight to Debug View.
You’ll find it within Configure > DeBug View.
As you engage with the website in question through the preview mode you can test to see which of your tags are firing successfully:
By Default GA4 shows page SEO title in tracking
For a reason that seems unclear in reports that show pageviews GA4 shows the page title, rather than the page link.
You can adjust this by adding a new Custom Dimension to show the page URL – which is far more useful especially when looking at website your not familiar with.
Configure > Custom Definitions > Create custom definition > New
Conversions can be separated from Events
Other than eCommerce purchases any conversion you wanted to track in UA had to report as a Goal. You could set up Goals for anything from a page view through to a contact form submission, and this means that the “All Goals” screen can become crowded with goals that are less important that what is essentially a conversion (such as an enquiry form submission).
In GA4 this has been immediately address through the use of “Events” and “Conversions”. Any Event can be labelled as a conversion, and these are reported in a completely separate dashboard.
Bounce rate vs engagement rate
In UA a “bounce” was a user who left your website after landing on a page but didn’t perform a further action, be that a click on a CTA or a visit to another page. This personally often frustrates me, especially when talking about an article or blog page as the user could have spent 5 minutes reading the content and left, whilst being reported as a bounce. This inflates the avg bounce rate of a website, as you’ll find core pages have a lower bounce rate than blogs.
In GA4 this has been addressed with a new metric called “engagement rate”, which splits out any visit that lasted longer than 10 seconds, or completed an event. This by default in GA4 could just be the user scrolling down a page.
So in GA4 a bounce is any user who visits your website for less than 10 seconds and doesn’t engage with it in anyway. This for me is far more transparent and provides more information on what content users are reading as opposed to just “bouncing” off.
Tracking of sub domains
Unlike UA you don’t have to do any extra configuration to track sub domains in GA4. Providing they both have the same GA4 ID all the data will pull into the same dashboard.
GA4 also seems to track users once even if they happen to be looking at both the main website and sub domain at the same time or transferred from one to the other. I’ve not seen any duplicate sessions which has been a source of frustration in the past.
In July 2023 Universal Analytics will stop reporting, and all accounts are set to the deleted by November 2023. If you need any assistance with Google Analytics 4, or just want to chat about implementing it please drop us a line.