It’s important to understand Google Analytics 4 because it will eventually be the only GA platform option. Here’s how.
In less than one month, Google Analytics 4 will be a year old. Are you ready? At the very least, hopefully, you have it running on your site. Google Analytics 4 will ultimately be the only GA platform option.
It’s not such a big deal. Nevertheless, given that GA4 does not populate data from Universal Analytics, you should get to tracking!
So, let’s talk about how to properly set up GA4 so your team can get moving.
Properties for Google Analytics 4
Out of the gate, the biggest fundamental change in Google Analytics 4 is the way “properties” are treated. Universal Analytics forces you to create a separate property for every online entity. If you have an iOs app – property. Android app – property. Website – property.
In GA4, properties are built using data streams. A data stream is utilized to pull data from an online entity and push it into your property. Each property can have up to 50 data streams. This represents that all your data lives in one place! You view it together to have a better picture of your users’ journeys.
Data Streams Configuration
Properly setting up your data streams is essential to getting the most out of GA4. To create a data stream in GA4, go to the settings of your account and under Property select Data Streams.
From here, create your data stream by selecting Add stream, then selecting what type of entity is wanted to pull data from (iOs app, Android app, or web).
Take your time with this setup. You might want to hurry past this screen, but super important things go down here.
PS. If your streams are already set up, no worries. You get the same options when you go to Admin > Data Streams and click into your data streams.
One of the most overlooked configurations of Universal Analytics is cross-domain traffic. It could be irritating that so many people have multiple domains. However, it’s not the most easy process in UA. When you set up your data stream in GA4, cross-domain tracking is managed under More Tagging Settings.
To set up cross-domain tracking using GA4, simply go to Admin > Data Stream > More Tagging Settings > Configure Your Domains.
From here, identify the domain parameters and place the tag on those sites. Now you’ve got cross-domain tracking.
A lot goes on in this view of More Tagging Settings. On this screen, you can define IP traffic you would like to filter out.
To do define internal (or other IP specific) traffic in GA4, you go to Admin > Data Stream > More Tagging Settings > Define Internal Traffic.
On this screen, you can define the IP addresses in which you don’t want to track traffic.
Domain Referral Filters
Directly under Define Internal Traffic you see the option to List Unwanted Referrals. This is a very beneficial filter for anyone who uses a third-party payment processor, a landing page platform, a blog platform, etc.
To define the referrers you want GA4 to ignore, you are able to select from the following match types:
- • Referral domain contains
- • Referral domain begins with
- • Referral domain ends with
- • Referral domain exactly matches
- • Referral domain matches RegEx
Match types can be stacked with and/or conditions.
Session Timeout Adjustments
The last option on the More Tagging Settings screen is Adjust Session Timeout. Clearly, this is where you can adjust the session timeout settings. This is important because the default session timeout is 30 minutes.
You’ll see this screen also permits you to Adjust the Timer for Engaged Sessions. By default, the timer is set at 10 seconds. It’s important to note that in GA4 Google refers to engaged sessions as 10 seconds or longer.
It may not seem vital, but engagement metrics are all built on engaged sessions and engagement metrics have replaced behavior metrics (like bounce rate). So, modify the timer prudently.
Connecting Google Ads
Once data streams are configured, you will need to consider Google product linking. GA4 isn’t near as robust as UA; nevertheless, there is still an option to link to Google Ads. If you are running Google Ads, you want to connect Google Ads to GA4.
GA4 provides predictive audiences. These audiences can be marketed to use Google Ads.
Big Query Connection
Data nerds- prepare yourselves, this is likely the best news of the post. You can now connect to Big Query without having Google Analytics 360.
To connect your GA4 account to BigQuery:
- 1. Go to the admin screen and under the property column and select BigQuery linking.
- 2. Select Link in the top left corner.
- 3. Select Choose a BigQuery Project.
- 4. A list of the BigQuery projects you have at least “read” permission… choose the project you want to link.
- 5. Choose the location for the data.
- 6. Specify which data streams you want to export.
- 7. Choose how often you want to export the data.
- 8. Review & submit changes.
And just like that, you have a GA4 connection to BigQuery.
The Fundamentals are Important
You may not love GA4 yet, in giving it your best shot it’s essential that you set it up properly and as you can see, it’s not incredibly hard!
The process will allow you to see there are indeed a few signs that show Google listened to marketers’ needs and that they really tried to make it as easy as possible.