Whenever someone is trying to manage their business online, one of the first things they have to master is the optimization of their website and the generation of more targeted traffic.
Google has always provided webmasters with a universal analytics system designed to measure their website traffic with demographic and strategic data they could use to tweak and better harness their target audience.
But in July of 2023, this system is going away and it is being replaced by a new system called Google Analytics 4, or GA4 for short.
You, as a site owner, need to know what this change means and how to migrate your site so that you continue gathering important data.
You also want to learn how to save all of the historical data that your domain has accumulated up to this point.
This type of growth is important to know, and if you are not timely with your efforts, you will lose it all.
How Google’s Analytical Data Can Help Your Business
Analytical data is very important when you have a goal to help your domain achieve high rankings in the SERPs (search engine results pages).
Without understanding who your audience is and how they are finding you, you won’t be able to improve your efforts and beat the sites you are competing with.
You can use it to see how visitors are responding to your content, if they are bouncing or sticking around and how they are navigating your pages.
If you are running any kind of campaign, you will be able to track the progress of it and see if you achieve your goals.
By using this type of data, you can see patterns emerging, such as a certain style of content that performs better for you than others or specific topics that your visitors flock to above others.
The behavior your visitors exhibit will help you with future content creation and campaigns to ensure they are optimized for performance.
In the past, you may have been signed up as a Google Analytics user and installed a bit of code on your site.
Whenever people visit your site, the browser collects the information and Google harvests the data to present to you in a format where you can see the visual results in the form of graphs and tables.
You might notice certain pages where people bounce at a high rate.
Or you might see that specific tweaks you have made have resulted in a longer average session on your site.
You have also been able to track information for keywords, which sites have backlinks referring people to you, and more.
You can even learn how many pages a person averages whenever they visit your domain, which determines its stickiness.
Analytics has helped many niche marketers because it gathers so much information and it is a free service.
It is also very easy to use, so even beginner webmasters have no problem using this data to their advantage.
The End of Universal Analytics And The Beginning Of GA4
Google’s Analytics 4 was launched officially in October of 2020, and many are already using it.
But many are still stuck on the old version of universal analytics, which can pose a problem for them in the near future.
On July 1, 2023, Google is shutting down Universal Analytics, and hoping all webmasters migrate over to the GA4 system.
What are some of the differences between the two?
GA4 is using more artificial intelligence tools when gathering and delivering its information to webmasters.
It works better with Google Ads and has a focus on lifecycle data regarding the visitor.
They have also updated it to align better with data management guidelines and regulations, so you are up to date on collecting information that is allowed, while not overstepping any boundaries, using privacy controls like cookieless measurement.
This version can more accurately gather data from both websites and apps.
While analytics used to gather data based on each session, now it can base its data on each event instead.
There are ways this analytics system can present you with behavioral modeling and conversion modeling so that you can improve your online content campaigns for better performance.
Plus, they now have more integrations to different media platforms to allow you to better control the actions that take place on your site (or app, if that is the case).
So the new system has more functionality and better data delivery for niche marketers and site owners to rely on and use to their advantage.
Loss Of Historical Data From Google Analytics
The new system has already rolled out to webmasters.
But many have not taken the steps needed to switch to the new system, forcing Google to put a pressure of time on them.
On July 1, 2023, you will no longer be able to see new information being processed using the old version of Google Analytics.
Until that date, the system will continue collecting data and presenting it to you.
After the deadline, while the system will no longer process new hits to your site, you can still access your historical site data, but only for a limited period of time.
They are going to give you a six month window of opportunity (possibly longer, but this is the minimum) to export the information during that timeframe.
If you want to export your data, the process is fairly easy.
You can export is in an Excel spreadsheet, PDF or other formats that are easy to read.
You can use the Google Analytics Reporting API to export the information.
Migrating Your Site to GA4 Going Forward
You need to get started with your GA4 migration as soon as possible so that you are not caught off-guard when the deadline arrives.
They have a Setup Assistant that can help you create a Google Analytics 4 account.
You are still going to have the basic information like goals and conversions, but there will be some things you can opt out of as you go through the setup process.
The first thing you need to do is check to see which version you are using.
Google said that anything created after October 14, 2020 is probably the new GA4 system.
But if you started it before then, you will likely be on the old Universal Analytics system and need to migrate over.
Look at the property ID for your analytics site.
If it starts with UA, followed by numbers, then you are on the old system.
If it is numerical only, you are already up to date!
How you migrate over will depend on what you currently have happening.
If you are brand new to Analytics, you will create a new account, configure the settings for all of the data sharing, and add the first property to your account.
You will choose your industry, accept the terms and add your data streams before adding the Google tag to your web pages.
There is also an option for adding Google Analytics 4 to a site that currently has the old Universal Analytics installed.
The two will run side by side.
The Setup Assistant will copy the information over for you.
You can also add Google Analytics 4 to a content management system or website builder (like Spotify, WordPress, WooCommerce, etc.).
Don’t wait until the last minute to make the switch because you need this information to help you excel with your content efforts as a dominant niche marketer.