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Google Analytics 4

View profile for Jamie Stevens
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Google Analytics 4 - What is it and do you need it for your Law Firm Website?

Google Analytics 4 is the new version of Google Analytics, which has been created to eventually replace the existing universal analytics tracking. Google created Google Analytics 4 to make it easier to track users between properties that you own such as your website and your phone app, so for many users there is no advantage to upgrading at this point.

Read more below to find out about the new features of Google Analytics 4 and the current drawbacks compared with the existing universal analytics tracking:

What Are the New Features of Google Analytics 4?

Better Tracking of Users Between Multiple Sites and Devices

Users with a Google account and ad personalisation turned on can now be tracked across devices that they own and across any other web properties or mobile apps, including apps such as YouTube. This allows you to gain a better understanding of the user journey. For example, if a user views your website on their mobile phone while they are out and about and then visits your website at home from their laptop, these two separate visits can now be linked if they have a Google account with ad personalisation turned on.

Better Insights

If you use Google Analytics insights to analyse trends in your Google Analytics data, Google Analytics 4 brings new and more detailed insights that use new machine learning models to alert you to increased visits to specific pages, changes in conversion rates and more.

What Are the Current Disadvantages of Switching to Google Analytics 4 Now?

Historic Data

You cannot view the historic data from your current Google Analytics property in your new Google Analytics 4 property. This is because the tracking code has significantly changed. However, Google is currently looking into a way to migrate existing Google Analytics data over to Google Analytics 4.

Multiple Tracking Codes Needed

If you want to continue to use your historic data, whether for comparison purposes or for reporting, you will need to continue to run both the old Google Analytics tracking code and the new Google Analytics 4 tracking code side by side. Running the extra code can slow down your site.

No Filtered Views

Unlike the existing version of Google Analytics, Google Analytics 4 does not support filtered views. This means that you cannot have both a view showing all user data and another view that is filtered to exclude certain traffic. You might want to use filtered views to exclude visits such as your employees visiting your website from your office locations, traffic from specific bots and traffic from other countries. Since this is an important feature of Google Analytics, we expect that filtered views, or a similar feature, will be added in the future. However, for now, the only way to have separate filtered and unfiltered views is to have two separate Google Analytics 4 tracking codes, which again could slow down your site and cause issues with tracking.

Should I Set Up Google Analytics 4 On My Website Yet?

We recommend that at this point, you should only install Google Analytics 4 onto your site if tracking users over multiple devices and sites is an important part of your marketing strategy, or you regularly make decisions using Google Analytics insights. Google still considers Google Analytics 4 to be for "early adopters" which means that it is not yet ready for mainstream adoption, and unless you are creating a brand-new site, not just redesigning one you already have, the lack of historic data is likely to make decision making harder. This is because you will have to switch between multiple Google Analytics properties any time you want to make a comparison of data - such as comparing last month's data to the previous year.

Most users will see minimal benefits from Google Analytics 4 over their current implementation of Google Analytics, and we advise that you think carefully before upgrading as it could cause more problems than it solves. However, we expect that Google will iron out these issues in the near future and then Google Analytics 4 will be ready for most users.

We will keep you informed as to the progress of Google Analytics 4 and if you do want to talk about it in detail please let us know.

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