On July 1, 2023, while everyone was turning burgers on the grill and (hopefully) applying copious amounts of sunscreen, something big happened in the SEO community. And it wasn’t a sale on hot dogs and red-white-and-blue popsicles at the grocery store.
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) was released, “the next generation of analytics.” The new property replaces Universal Analytics, which stopped processing data on the same day GA4 came out.
A couple caveats: You can still see your Universal Analytics reports “for some time” (a vague timeline provided by Google), and 360 Universal Analytics properties get an extra year, with their end processing date set as July 1, 2024.
So why the switch? According to Google, GA is “designed for the future of measurement” - and the extensive capabilities of the property live up to this bold statement.
Here’s a rapid-fire list of some of the most exciting features we’re getting with GA4:
It’s a lot of new stuff, so it’s going to take some time to learn. However, in the long run, GA4 looks like it’s going to be well worth the hassle.
So how can you get started with this new property? First, you need to set it up.
Before you can connect GA4 to Google Search Console, you need to set up the GA4 property first.
If you’ve been using Universal Analytics, it’s time to hop onto your Google Analytics account and make the switch.
Lucky for you, there is a GA4 Setup assistant that will help.
From the Google Analytics home page, click “Admin” in the lower left hand corner.
Make sure that the proper “Account” is selected.
In the middle “Property” column, select the Universal Analytics property that is currently collecting data for your website.
The first option in the menu below the property selection should be “GA4 Setup Assistant.” Click on it, and then click “Get Started”
You can select “Enable data collection using your existing tags” if your site uses the gtag.js tag. Then you can go ahead and click “Create Property.”
There are a few reasons why you may not be able to enable data collection using your existing tags, which include:
In these instances, you will need to add the tag yourself.
If you use Google Firebase, you’ll need to upgrade your account.
To do this, log into your Firebase account.
Navigate to Analytics, then Dashboard on the left panel.
You’ll see a banner at the top of the page. Click “Begin upgrade.”
Then, just follow the instructions provided to finish upgrading to GA4.
Now that you have the GA4 property up and running, we can connect it to Search Console.
Before doing anything, verify you’re using an email address that is both a verified site owner in Google Search Console and an editor in GA4.
If you’re all set, go ahead and log into your Google Search Console.
Scroll down on the left-hand menu and click on settings.
Under General Settings, click on the Associations bar.
Underneath the list of associated properties, you should see a bar that you can click to associate GA4 with your Search Console. Go ahead and click on it.
Make sure you select your GA4 property and web stream in the pop-up window, and keep following the prompts until you hit the final “Associate.”
And there you have it - the two properties are now connected!
So what does it mean to have these two properties connected?
There are a few benefits that you can only get by having this connection:
Just because you’ve connected the two properties, doesn’t mean you’ll automatically see Google Search Console data when you’re checking your GA4 property.
It will take a full 24 hours for Search Console data to populate into GA4.
You will not have access to all of your historical data from Search Console, either. Your data will be available from either the date you created your GA4 data stream, or the date you verified your site in Search Console - whichever you did latest.
To find your Search Console data in GA4, open up the GA4 property. Under Reports, navigate to Acquisition, then Acquisition overview.
From there, you can look for the panels labeled Google Organic Search Traffic and Google Organic Search Queries. Click on the link to view the report.
If you want to make these reports show up in the side navigation of GA4, then in GA4 navigate to Reports, then Library.
Find the panel Search Console that is marked as Unpublished. Click on the three dots in the upper corner, and hit Publish.
With this, you’ll be able to find Search Console reports under the ‘Life cycle’ report collection.
If you’re thinking “Now what?” with GA4 and how to use it to your full advantage, don’t sweat it - we’re here to help you through every step of the way.
If you want to chat through with an expert what the smartest next steps for your website are, schedule a free consultation with Centori to get the conversation started today.
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