11 GA4 Top Tips

Imogen Collins
June 26, 2023

We’re saying goodbye to Universal Analytics forever this week (except for the purposes of reporting - we’ve still got access to the data for now!). The transition to GA4 has been quite a journey, and I think some of us out there are still hoping that Google is going to change their mind at the last minute. 

For those of us who still don’t feel as confident as you’d like with the new version of Google Analytics, we’ve got a few hints below. 

  1. Change your data retention settings from 2 months to 14 months (unless you have a reason not to): https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/7667196?hl=en 
  2. Connect your Google ads account(s) to GA4: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/9379420?hl=en#zippy=%2Cin-this-article 
  3. The default channel groupings are different in GA4 than in UA, and you might find data appearing as ‘unassigned’ or in a different grouping than before. Check to see how your data is being defined compared to UA. If necessary create a custom channel grouping or change your UTM tags on channels to ensure they’re being picked up in the correct grouping: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/9756891?hl=en 
  4. Related to the previous point - remember to move across your referral exclusion list from UA to GA4 (you don’t want payment providers taking the credit for all of your revenue!), add the list of domains that your tag is present on, and define and exclude internal traffic. This can all be done in the tag settings for the Datastream. 
  5. Your PPC team will need to make sure you have the audiences set up that they need to run their Google ads campaigns. There are also some exciting new audiences which use machine learning to identify high-intent users: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/9267572?hl=en#zippy=%2Cin-this-article 
  6. Make sure you have the conversions (previously goals) set up that you need to measure your KPIs - and check that the events are firing as expected: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/12966437?hl=en  
  7. Is Google Signals switched on? A change in your privacy policy may need to be made before changing this setting https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/9445345?hl=en#zippy=%2Cin-this-article
  8. Keep in mind some new metrics and metrics which have changed. This might help you to understand why some numbers may not match up between GA4 and UA: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/11986666?hl=en#zippy=%2Cin-this-article
  9. GA4 can have a data delay of “24+ hours” which might mean that your Monday reporting will no longer be as accurate as you have come to expect. It’s going to be important to plan in advance what changes you need to make to your internal reporting methodologies to account for this if you are affected: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/12233314?sjid=14530324297704147841-EU#data-processing 
  10. Data-driven attribution is available in GA4. This uses machine learning to calculate the uplift in likelihood of a conversion happening vs. not happening to assign credit to different channels. You can set a default attribution model in your settings. Not every report will be affected by this, but if you start to see fractional values in the conversion column then that’s a sure sign that you are not looking at last-click data. https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/10597962?sjid=14530324297704147841-EU#zippy=%2Cin-this-article 
  11. GA4 can still be considered to be ‘under construction’, and changes are being released all of the time - keep up to date with these here: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/9164320#120522&zippy=%2Creleases 
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