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High 4 Issues to Know About GA4 — Whiteboard Friday

The creator’s views are completely his or her personal (excluding the unlikely occasion of hypnosis) and will not all the time mirror the views of Moz.

On this week’s Whiteboard Friday, Dana brings you some particulars on the thrilling new world of Google Analytics 4. Watch and learn to speak about it when purchasers and coworkers are intimidated by the transfer.

whiteboard outlining four insights into GA4

Click on on the whiteboard picture above to open a excessive decision model in a brand new tab!

Video Transcription

Hello, my identify is Dana DiTomaso. I am President at Kick Level. And I’m right here right now at MozCon 2022 to deliver you some particulars on the thrilling world of Google Analytics 4, which I do know all of you might be like, “Ugh, I do not need to study analytics,” which is completely honest. I additionally didn’t need to study analytics.

After which I sort of discovered about it whether or not I preferred it or not. And it is best to, too, sadly. 

So I believe the largest factor in regards to the transfer from Common Analytics to GA4 is that individuals are like they log in and all the things seems completely different. “I do not prefer it.” After which they depart. And I agree the person interface in GA4 leaves rather a lot to be desired. I do not assume there’s essentially been a whole lot of good training, particularly for these of us who aren’t analysts on a day-to-day foundation.

We’re not all knowledge scientists. I am not an information scientist. I do advertising. So what I am hoping is I can let you know the issues it is best to learn about GA4 on only a fundamental kind of stage, so that you’ve a greater vocabulary to speak about it when individuals are horrified by the transfer to GA4, which is inevitable. It is going to occur. You have to get it in your website beginning mainly instantly, when you do not have already got it. So I began out with three issues, after which I spotted there was a fourth factor. So that you get a bonus, thrilling bonus, however we’ll begin with the primary three issues. 

1. It is completely different

So the very first thing it is completely different, which I do know is clear. Sure, after all, Dana it is completely different. However it’s completely different. Okay, so in Common Analytics, there have been several types of hits that might go into analytics, which is the place hits got here from initially as a metric that folks talked about. So, for instance, in Common Analytics, you possibly can have a pageview, or you possibly can have a transaction, or you possibly can have an occasion.

And people had been all several types of hits. In GA4, all the things is an occasion. There’s a pageview occasion. There’s a transaction occasion. There’s, properly, an occasion occasion. I imply, you identify the occasions no matter you need. And due to that, it is really rather a lot higher method to report in your knowledge.

So, for instance, one of many issues that I do know folks all the time needed to have the ability to report on in Common Analytics is what pages did folks see and the way did that relate to conversion fee. And that was actually tough as a result of a pageview was one thing that was on the hit scope stage, which suggests it was similar to the person factor that occurred, whereas conversion fee is a session scoped factor.

So that you could not mash collectively a success scope factor with pageview with conversion fee, which is session scoped. They simply did not mix collectively until you probably did some fancy mixing stuff in Knowledge Studio. And who’s received time for that? So now in GA4, as a result of all the things is an occasion, you might have much more freedom with how one can slice and cube and interpret your knowledge and work out what pages do folks interact with earlier than they really transformed, or what was that path, not simply the touchdown web page, however your complete person journey on their path to conversion. In order that half is admittedly thrilling. 

2. Engagement fee just isn’t reverse bounce fee

Second factor, engagement fee is a brand new metric in GA4. They do have bounce fee. They did just lately announce it. I am irritated at it, so we’ll speak about this slightly bit. Engagement fee just isn’t reverse bounce fee. However it’s in GA4.

So in Common Analytics, bounce fee was a metric that folks reported on on a regular basis, although they should not have. I hate bounce fee a lot. Simply image like a dumpster hearth GIF proper now throughout your display screen. I hate bounce fee. And why I hate bounce fee is it is so simply faked. For example, for instance, your boss says to you, “Hey, you already know what, the bounce fee on our website is simply too excessive. Might you repair it?”

You are like, “Oh, yeah, boss. Completely.” After which what you do is each time anyone comes in your web site, you ship what’s known as an interactive occasion off to Google Analytics on the similar time. And now you might have a 0% bounce fee. Congratulations. You bought a elevate since you made it up. Bounce fee might completely be faked, no query. And so once we moved over to GA4, initially there was no bounce fee.

There was engagement fee. Engagement fee has its personal points, however it’s not measuring something just like what bounce fee was. Bounce fee in UA was an occasion did not occur. It did not matter when you spent an hour and a half on the web page studying it carefully. In case you did not interact in an occasion that was an interactive occasion, that meant that you simply had been nonetheless counted as a bounce whenever you left that web page.

Whereas in GA4, an interact session is by default somebody spending 10 seconds with that tab, that web site open, so lively of their browser, or they visited two pages, or that they had a conversion. Now this 10-second rule I believe is fairly brief. Ten seconds just isn’t essentially a whole lot of time for somebody to be engaged with the web site.

So that you would possibly need to change that. It is below the tagging settings in your knowledge stream. So when you go to Admin and then you definately click on in your knowledge stream and also you go to extra tagging settings and then you definately go to session timeouts, you may change it in there. And I’d advocate enjoying round with that and seeing what feels proper to you. Now GA4 actually simply as I am filming this has introduced bounce fee, which really it’s reverse engagement fee. Please do not use it.

As an alternative, take into consideration engagement fee, which I believe is a way more usable metric than bounce fee was in UA. And I am sort of excited that bounce fee in UA goes away as a result of it was [vocalization]. 

3. Your knowledge won’t match

All proper. So subsequent factor, your knowledge just isn’t going to match. And that is anxious since you’ve been reporting on UA knowledge for years, and now hastily it is not going to match and other people can be like, “However you stated there have been 101 customers, and right now you are saying there have been really 102. What’s the issue?”

So, I imply, you probably have that sort of dialogue together with your management, you actually need to have a dialog in regards to the thought of accuracy in analytics, as in it is not, and error and all the things else. However I imply, actually the information goes to be completely different, and typically it is rather a lot completely different. It isn’t just a bit bit completely different. And it is as a result of GA4 measures stuff in a different way than UA did. There’s a web page on Google Analytics Assist, which matches into it in depth. However listed here are among the highlights that I believe it is best to actually know kind of off the highest of your head whenever you’re speaking to folks about this. 

Pageviews and distinctive pageviews

So very first thing, a pageview metric, which we’re all aware of, in Common Analytics, this was all pageviews, together with repeats. In GA4, similar, pageview is pageview. Nice.

Thus far so good. Then we had distinctive pageviews in Common Analytics, which was solely single views per session. So if I seemed on the homepage after which I went to a providers web page and I went again to the homepage, I’d have two pageviews of the homepage for pageview. I’d have one pageview of the homepage in distinctive pageviews. That metric doesn’t exist in GA4. So that’s one thing to essentially look ahead to is that when you had been used to reporting on distinctive pageviews, that’s gone.

So I like to recommend now altering your reviews to kind of like stroll folks by this consolation stage of getting them used to the actual fact they are not going to get distinctive pageviews anymore. Or you may implement one thing that I speak about in one other one in every of my Whiteboard Fridays about having the ability to measure the share of people who find themselves reloading tabs and tab hoarders. You might work that into this slightly bit.


Okay. Subsequent factor is customers. Customers is admittedly I believe a troublesome matter for lots of people to get their heads round as a result of they assume, oh, person, that signifies that if I am on my laptop computer after which I am going to my cellular system, clearly I’m one person. You are often not, sadly. You do not essentially get related throughout a number of gadgets. Or when you’re utilizing say a privacy- targeted browser, like Safari, it’s possible you’ll not even be related in the identical system, which sort of sucks.

The true solely means you may actually measure if somebody is a person throughout a number of periods is you probably have a login in your web site, which not all people does. Plenty of B2B websites do not have logins. Plenty of small enterprise websites do not have logins. So customers is already sort of a sketchy metric. And so sadly it is one that folks used to report on rather a lot in Common Analytics.

So in Common Analytics, customers was complete customers, new versus returning. In GA4, it is now lively customers. What’s an lively person? The documentation is slightly unclear on how Google considers an lively person. So I like to recommend studying that in depth. Simply know that that is going to be completely different. You by no means ought to have been reporting on new versus returning customers anyway, until you had a login in your website as a result of it was such a sketchy, unhealthy metric, however I do not assume lots of people knew how unhealthy it was.

It is okay. Simply begin altering your reviews now in order that when you must begin utilizing GA4, on July 1, 2023, for actual UA is finished, then at the least it is not a lot of a shock whenever you do make that transition. 


So one different factor to consider as properly with the modifications is periods. So in Common Analytics, a session was the lively use of a website, so that you’re clicking on stuff.

It had a 30-minute timeout. And you could have heard by no means to make use of UTM tags on inside hyperlinks in your web site. And the rationale why is as a result of if somebody clicked on an inside hyperlink in your web site that had UTMs on it, your session would reset. And so you’d have what’s known as session breaking, the place hastily you’d have a session that mainly began in the course of your web site with a brand-new marketing campaign and supply and medium and fully indifferent from the session that they only had.

They might be a returning person although. That is nice. You should not have been reporting that anyway. Whereas in GA4 as an alternative, now there’s an occasion as a result of, bear in mind, all the things is an occasion now. There’s an occasion that is named session begin. And in order that information when, properly, the session begins. After which there’s additionally a 30-minute timeout, however there isn’t a UTM reset.

Now that does not imply that it is best to go on the market and begin utilizing UTMs on inside hyperlinks. I nonetheless do not assume it is an incredible thought, however it’s not essentially going to interrupt issues the best way that it used to. So now you can see the place did somebody begin on my website by wanting on the session begin occasion. I do not know if it is essentially 100% dependable. We have seen conditions the place when you’re utilizing consent administration instruments, for instance, like a cookie compliance software, you may have points with periods beginning and whatnot.

So simply maintain that in thoughts is that it is not essentially completely foolproof, however it’s a actually fascinating method to see the place folks began on the location in a means that you possibly can not do that earlier than. 

4. Use BigQuery

So bonus, bonus earlier than we go. All proper, the fourth factor that I believe it is best to learn about GA4, use BigQuery. There is a built-in BigQuery export below the settings for GA4. Use it.

The explanation why it is best to use it’s: (a) the reviews in GA4 are usually not nice, the default reviews, they sort of suck; (b) even the explorations are a bit questionable, like you may’t actually format them to look good in any respect. So what I am saying to folks is do not actually use the reviews inside GA4 for any kind of helpful reporting functions. It is extra like an advert hoc reporting. However even then, I’d nonetheless flip to BigQuery for many of my reporting wants.

And the rationale why is as a result of GA4 has some thresholding utilized. So you do not essentially get all the information out of GA4 whenever you’re really taking a look at reviews in it. And this occurred to me really simply this morning earlier than I recorded this Whiteboard Friday. I used to be trying to see how many individuals engaged with the shape on our web site, and since it was a comparatively low quantity, it stated zero.

After which I seemed on the knowledge in BigQuery and it stated 12. That quantity may very well be lacking from the reviews in GA4, however you may see it in BigQuery, and that is due to the thresholding that is utilized. So I all the time advocate utilizing the BigQuery knowledge as an alternative of the GA4 knowledge. And in Google Knowledge Studio, if that is what you employ to your reporting software, the identical situation applies whenever you use GA4 as an information supply.

You’ve got the identical thresholding issues. So actually simply use BigQuery. And also you needn’t know BigQuery. All it’s essential to do is get the information going into BigQuery after which open up Google Knowledge Studio and use that BigQuery desk as your knowledge supply. That is actually all it’s essential to know. No SQL required. If you wish to study it, that is neat.

I do not even understand it that properly but. However it’s not one thing you must know in an effort to report properly on GA4. So I hope that you simply discovered this beneficial and you may have slightly bit extra of a greater dialogue together with your crew and your management about GA4. I do know it appears rushed. It is rushed. Let’s all admit it is rushed, however I believe it should be a very good transfer. I am actually excited in regards to the new sorts of knowledge and the quantities of knowledge that we are able to seize now in GA4.

It actually frees us from just like the class motion label stuff that we had been tremendous tied to in Common Analytics. We are able to file a lot extra fascinating knowledge now on each occasion. So I am enthusiastic about that. The precise transition itself is perhaps sort of painful, however then a 12 months from now, we’ll all look again and chuckle, proper? Thanks very a lot.

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