Prime 4 Issues to Know About GA4 — Whiteboard Friday

The writer’s views are solely his or her personal (excluding the unlikely occasion of hypnosis) and should 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 discuss it when shoppers and coworkers are intimidated by the transfer.

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

Video Transcription

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

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

So I feel the largest factor in regards to the transfer from Common Analytics to GA4 is that individuals are like they log in and all the pieces appears to be like completely different. “I do not prefer it.” After which they depart. And I agree the consumer interface in GA4 leaves quite a bit to be desired. I do not suppose there’s essentially been plenty of good training, particularly for these of us who aren’t analysts on a day-to-day foundation.

We’re not all information scientists. I am not a knowledge scientist. I do advertising and marketing. So what I am hoping is I can let you know the issues it is best to find out about GA4 on only a primary kind of degree, so that you’ve a greater vocabulary to speak about it when individuals are horrified by the transfer to GA4, which is inevitable. It should occur. You have to get it in your website beginning principally instantly, if you happen to do not have already got it. So I began out with three issues, after which I noticed 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 apparent. Sure, in fact, Dana it is completely different. Nevertheless 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 individuals 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 pieces is an occasion. There’s a pageview occasion. There’s a transaction occasion. There’s, properly, an occasion occasion. I imply, you title the occasions no matter you need. And due to that, it is truly quite a bit higher option to report in your information.

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

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

2. Engagement price shouldn’t be reverse bounce price

Second factor, engagement price is a brand new metric in GA4. They do have bounce price. They did just lately announce it. I am irritated at it, so we will discuss this a bit of bit. Engagement price shouldn’t be reverse bounce price. However it’s in GA4.

So in Common Analytics, bounce price was a metric that individuals reported on on a regular basis, despite the fact that they should not have. I hate bounce price a lot. Simply image like a dumpster fireplace GIF proper now throughout your display. I hate bounce price. And why I hate bounce price is it is so simply faked. To illustrate, for instance, your boss says to you, “Hey, you realize what, the bounce price on our website is just too excessive. Might you repair it?”

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

There was engagement price. Engagement price has its personal points, nevertheless it’s not measuring something just like what bounce price was. Bounce price in UA was an occasion did not occur. It did not matter if you happen to spent an hour and a half on the web page studying it intently. In case you did not have interaction in an occasion that was an interactive occasion, that meant that you just had been nonetheless counted as a bounce whenever you left that web page.

Whereas in GA4, an have interaction 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 they’d a conversion. Now this 10-second rule I feel is fairly brief. Ten seconds shouldn’t be essentially plenty of time for somebody to be engaged with the web site.

So that you would possibly need to change that. It is beneath the tagging settings in your information stream. So if you happen to go to Admin and then you definitely click on in your information stream and also you go to extra tagging settings and then you definitely go to session timeouts, you’ll be able to change it in there. And I might advocate taking part in round with that and seeing what feels proper to you. Now GA4 actually simply as I am filming this has introduced bounce price, which truly it’s reverse engagement price. Please do not use it.

As a substitute, take into consideration engagement price, which I feel is a way more usable metric than bounce price was in UA. And I am form of excited that bounce price in UA goes away as a result of it was [vocalization]. 

3. Your information won’t match

All proper. So subsequent factor, your information shouldn’t be going to match. And that is worrying since you’ve been reporting on UA information for years, and now impulsively it isn’t going to match and other people can be like, “However you stated there have been 101 customers, and at the moment you are saying there have been truly 102. What’s the issue?”

So, I imply, if in case you have that form of dialogue together with your management, you actually need to have a dialog in regards to the concept of accuracy in analytics, as in it is not, and error and all the pieces else. However I imply, actually the info goes to be completely different, and generally it is quite a bit completely different. It isn’t just a bit bit completely different. And it is as a result of GA4 measures stuff otherwise than UA did. There’s a web page on Google Analytics Assist, which matches into it in depth. However listed below are a few of the highlights that I feel it is best to actually know kind of off the highest of your head whenever you’re speaking to individuals 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.

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

So I like to recommend now altering your studies to kind of like stroll individuals by means of this consolation degree of getting them used to the actual fact they are not going to get distinctive pageviews anymore. Or you’ll be able to implement one thing that I discuss in another one of my Whiteboard Fridays about having the ability to measure the proportion of people who find themselves reloading tabs and tab hoarders. You might work that into this a bit of bit.


Okay. Subsequent factor is customers. Customers is basically I feel a troublesome subject for lots of people to get their heads round as a result of they suppose, oh, consumer, that implies that if I am on my laptop computer after which I am going to my cell gadget, clearly I’m one consumer. You are normally not, sadly. You do not essentially get related throughout a number of units. Or if you happen to’re utilizing say a privacy- targeted browser, like Safari, chances are you’ll not even be related in the identical gadget, which form of sucks.

The actual solely means you’ll be able to actually measure if somebody is a consumer throughout a number of periods is if in case you have a login in your web site, which not everyone does. Lots of B2B websites do not have logins. Lots of small enterprise websites do not have logins. So customers is already form of a sketchy metric. And so sadly it is one that individuals used to report on quite a bit 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 consumer? The documentation is a bit of unclear on how Google considers an lively consumer. 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, except you had a login in your website as a result of it was such a sketchy, dangerous metric, however I do not suppose lots of people knew how dangerous it was.

It is okay. Simply begin altering your studies now in order that when you must begin utilizing GA4, on July 1, 2023, for actual UA is finished, then not less than it isn’t a lot of a shock whenever you do make that transition. 


So one different factor to consider as properly with the adjustments 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 inner hyperlinks in your web site. And the explanation why is as a result of if somebody clicked on an inner hyperlink in your web site that had UTMs on it, your session would reset. And so you’ll have what’s referred to as session breaking, the place impulsively you’ll have a session that principally began in the midst of your web site with a brand-new marketing campaign and supply and medium and utterly indifferent from the session that they simply had.

They’d be a returning consumer 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, keep in mind, all the pieces is an occasion now. There’s an occasion that is named session begin. And in order that data when, properly, the session begins. After which there’s additionally a 30-minute timeout, however there is no such thing as a UTM reset.

Now that does not imply that it is best to go on the market and begin utilizing UTMs on inner hyperlinks. I nonetheless do not suppose it is an amazing concept, nevertheless it’s not essentially going to interrupt issues the way in which 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 if you happen to’re utilizing consent administration instruments, for instance, like a cookie compliance software, you’ll be able to have points with periods beginning and whatnot.

So simply hold that in thoughts is that it isn’t essentially completely foolproof, however it’s a actually fascinating option to see the place individuals began on the positioning 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 feel it is best to find out about GA4, use BigQuery. There is a built-in BigQuery export beneath the settings for GA4. Use it.

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

And the explanation why is as a result of GA4 has some thresholding utilized. So you do not essentially get all the info out of GA4 whenever you’re truly taking a look at studies in it. And this occurred to me truly simply this morning earlier than I recorded this Whiteboard Friday. I used to be seeking 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 appeared on the information in BigQuery and it stated 12. That quantity may very well be lacking from the studies in GA4, however you’ll be able to see it in BigQuery, and that is due to the thresholding that is utilized. So I all the time advocate utilizing the BigQuery information as an alternative of the GA4 information. And in Google Knowledge Studio, if that is what you utilize in your reporting software, the identical difficulty applies whenever you use GA4 as a knowledge supply.

You could have the identical thresholding issues. So actually simply use BigQuery. And also you needn’t know BigQuery. All it is advisable do is get the info going into BigQuery after which open up Google Knowledge Studio and use that BigQuery desk as your information supply. That is actually all it is advisable know. No SQL required. If you wish to be taught 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 just discovered this beneficial and you’ll have a bit of 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 feel it may be a extremely good transfer. I am actually excited in regards to the new varieties of information and the quantities of information that we will 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 information now on each occasion. So I am enthusiastic about that. The precise transition itself may be form of painful, however then a 12 months from now, we’ll all look again and chortle, proper? Thanks very a lot.

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