Starting July 2023, individuals using Universal Analytics (UA), also known as Google Analytics 3 (GA3), for free will be forced to switch over to Google Analytics 4. The Google Analytics 4 migration is a similar process that happened between GA2 (Classic Analytics) to GA3 ten years ago, where no additional costs or fees will be a part of the GA4 migration. However, serious data tracking and transfer will need to be planned well beforehand.
Creating GA4 Properties
Unfortunately, historical data will not be imported from GA3, so tracking traffic data will only begin once GA4 is launched. Google said they strongly recommended having GA4 property set up by July 1st, 2022. Since it is now August, users need to create GA4 tracking through the Google Tag Manager tags as soon as possible.
Like historical data, tracking items will not be imported between GA3 and GA4. Common tracking items are content groupings, conversions, custom dimensions and metrics, events, goals, product links, referral exclusions, and target audiences. It is expected that GA4 will only allow 30 conversations per property at this time. Also, some goals, such as destination-based goals, will need to be manually changed to non-event goals. Thus, properties and items must be input into a newly formatted list and characterized appropriately. Otherwise, reports will not adequately reflect desired information and insights.
How to Migrate Items
The terms conversations and goals will be used synonymously in GA4. Destination-, event-, and engagement-based goals will be marked as conversations via code or interface. Event-based goals under the GA4 migration will need further manual and tagging configurations and setups. A new feature associated with the Google Analytics 4 migration is no specific interface for content groupings. Instead, there will be “Gtags,” where each page can have multiple tagging. However, there have been critiques that content grouping setups are time-consuming.
Custom dimensions and metrics now fall under separate two-set processes in the code and interface. Reluctantly, custom GA3 dimensions and metrics tags can appropriately be transferred to GA4, but an additional setup is still required. For referral exclusions, it is now labeled as Configure Your Domains under the Additional Settings of the Data Streams option. Then, a simple reconnect is only required for product link extensions, a part of the Property Administration Navigation (unlike referral exclusions). In other words, there is no need to remove existing product link extensions or Google Ads from GA3 as they can be easily connected to GA4.
Audiences are now a conversion setup in GA4 and will need to be recreated. Audience type and terminology are different in GA4 than in GA3, so a thorough investigation will need to set up audiences at the property level properly. Lastly, eCommerce tracking within GA4 will require new users to establish a new separate set of tags. Using Google Tag Manager is highly encouraged for this.
Check and Archive
As part of the migration, the final steps should include checking and troubleshooting the launch of new properties to ensure adequate data and reporting. Use Google Analytics Spreadsheet Add-On to pull and save previous GA3 data because beginning in 2024, Google will begin deleting all UA historical data. Otherwise, download the UA data to CSV for future access.