Google Analytics 4 advice from our Donegal based office nerds
Updated September 2023
Information is Power – the Internet allows us access to information at the touch of a button, whilst mobile has ensured that we can have that button on the go. And ‘Cloud Computing’ allows us store or retrieve information, from anywhere. Based in Donegal and Dublin, we manage websites for businesses all over Ireland to drive sales or generate leads. Using ‘Google Analytics or Google Analytics 4’ this tool helps us see how any changes we make affect the client website, for better or worse.
Businesses need to analyse online activity, by recording it, then studying or analysing it and then tweaking the offering based on the ‘tell tale’ signs offered by visitors.
Customers will tell you what they like, if you can attract them to your website, then engage them, drive them to your offering, convince them to see the value for them and buy once. Then set to work on retaining them as ongoing buyers, thereby creating a recurring income stream for you.
Larry Page or Sergei Brin or even Avinash Kaushik of Occams Razor fame, these well known experts in data, will tell you all about Data. Big Data, Quantitative or Qualitative analytics, where visitors come from or how to encourage ‘Digital Engagement’, but it can get confusing very quickly.
So make it easier by getting to understand what is important to your customer and therefore to your business. How? Just ask customers what they want. That is the only data you really need – what does your customer want and can you deliver it well. After that, you can have someone study the data and tweak the web presence or product offering based on site activity, which shows the breadcrumbs or tell tale signs of visitor activity.
However, asking the customer is still the shortest way to a sure conclusion. Use the data as a double check. Make the experience simple, tweak the actions or options, improve the functionality, avoid annoying your customers and continually improve every single process. Measure, Report, Analyse, Test and Improve. Measure, Report, Analyse, Test and Improve. Measure, Report, Analyse, Test and Improve.
Write down Objectives, Tactics/Strategies, KPIs, Segments and Targets
Our objectives for example typically include:
Objective – Help Businesses grow, using the Internet by partnering for a long term relationship to make their web presence engaging for ther target markets, to get the clients they really want.
Strategy – Create a web presence as a tool and offer to support clients or actually help manage and continually grow and improve the web presence to generate leads or sales
Tactics – Create a website to promote online lead generation or use Referral or Word of Mouth Marketing. Or perhaps create a useful informative Blog to engage the clients audience.
KPIs – ‘Key Performance Indicators’ can be the number of visitors to the website, number of sales made online or enquiry forms completed, downloads made, Newsletter or Blog signups, Social Shares and revisits or Requests for a Quotation
Marketing channel segments – Advertising or promoting in Google Ads, Facebook or Facebook Ads, Linkedin etc.
Define the marketing, plan, discuss the IT infrastructure, draw up the implementation plan and set up, then refine it continually
It is important to determine where customers come from – are we to create “Awareness” on the web or is it a “Learn” arena where potential customers do come to the site to learn, in which case we need to focus on delivering and optimising for this. Or is it on the selling that we need to focus our attention, on the conversion or the checkout process. Plan your Micros like Newsletter or Signup and Macros as in conversions like Buy or Get a Quote, each planned step along the way towards a final transaction at the end of the funnel. Imagine someone walks in the door of your shop, how do you engage and help that visitor to buy something or become a recurring buyer – same idea on the web, except it is digital.
Use ‘Filters’ to remove certain sectors or urls to help improve the real results. It is usually NOT a numbers game, so try to get people who represent a good chance of becoming buyers. Reduce the ‘Bounce Rate’ where people land on your website and then leave immediately. It is not normally a numbers game. So avoid marketers who tell you they can increase your visitor numbers. Listen to the ones who say that will increase the sales numbers. That is what is important.
Goals on Google, within Analytics Dashboard:
Use Goals in Google Analytics for your business to:
1. Document Business Objectives
2. Identify Strategies & Tactics
3. Choose KPIs
4. Choose segments
5. Choose Targets
Goal Types include 4 options normally, as in:
Destination ie. particular page like Thank You or Checkout
Duration on site and on page 3 or 4 mins
Pages/Screens per visit as in 3 or 4 whatever is optimum
Event as in download a doc or watch a video, make a purchase or fill in a contact form.
Set your ‘Goals’ to see if visitors do what you want or identify where they get off track. Set up ‘Funnels’ to identify what steps they should take – then guide them.
Use ‘Campaign Tags’ to identify Traffic sources such as email, newsletter campaign or in Keyword or Content of an email or newsletter. Link Tagging helps you really pinpoint what is working for you.
If this is sounding like work –it is and therefore decide now, whether to master the process and do the work yourself. Or outsource the work to someone who does it for a living ‘competently’.
Remember; Set ‘Goals’ for the person responsible and review them monthly. Pay to play, but expect to make a profit within months. Make sure anyone you hire is qualified, experienced, has a proven track record, has verifiable Testimonials and wants to work with you. This will reduce the number of possibles to single digits. Talk to us if you want recommendations.
Google Analytics for your website – Technically, What you want to know, a basic simple overview of a technically brilliant tool
The code is uniquely identifiable as your website code. It has a number like UA -1234567. The original analytics tool was “Urchin Analytics” or the UA which was taken over by Google. From October 2021 GA4 took over from UA, which will be discontinued from July 1 2023 – see below.
By adding the Google Analytics 4 code, you can then look at a free dashboard or a free report from Google. This tells you how many visitors your site gets and where the visitors are located. It tells you how many are returning visitors, how many pages on average they look at, how long they spend on the site and some of the pages they visit. What age, gender and nationality, even the type of device they used to access the website.
And it gives the ‘Bounce Rate’ in Google Analytics (but not in GA4) which is the percentage of visitors who land on a page of your website and then leave, without reading another page or engaging with you further. This is not necessarily a bad thing, if the visitor got the answer to their question. Imagine people walking in the door of your shop and leaving again immediately. Some sites have a very high bounce rate, but that is not necessarily bad.
In GA4 Google no longer reports the Bounce Rate.
This very website gets a lot of visitors, who land on one page and read the article, then leave, having gotten what they wanted. If I search for local Pizza suppliers, I might get their home page, see the telephone number and leave as soon as I get it. So, a high bounce rate could be to expected in some cases. It would be normal to try to get visitors to stay longer and to engage by buying something or making an enquiry. The insights you get from Google Analytics help you to refine the content in the website to improve UX or user experience and their engagement with you.
Determine Intent– Nowadays, it is all about ‘intent’, what does the visitor actually want when they get to your website and which words should you optimise for, based on typical visitor intent. If you own a Pizza Takeaway, should you have Pizza recipes on the website or do visitors just want to buy Pizza for delivery as convenience food. We write a lot of articles about SEO, but most readers of our articles do not want to engage our agency, they just want to learn more about SEO. Therefore perhaps we should not create these articles. However, we are happy to share whatever we know or learn. Every business is different. Once you understand the intent you can ensure that your content satisfies that want or need, whether it is informational or transactional intent.
The main thing is not that you know how to add this snippet of analytics code, but rather that you ensure that someone inserts it and that someone is looking at the figures on the report. You can even set up custom reports. This is how you analyse your website performance, as you continually strive to make it rank and perform better. The data in your reports will help you see how you are doing. Having the code in your site will also allow Google quantify what people search for within your own website search box function.
Google SiteKit for WordPress: By all means add Google SiteKit to see the stats in your own website dashboard. Instructions for connecting Google Site Kit in the WordPress Dashboard can be found HERE. Note that each individual user account needs to be connected to Google Site Kit there is no global connection for all users.
Ready to get started yourself, ready to learn how – click here Google Analytics offers a treasure trove of useful information and helps you generate more leads. Google wants you to be successful, so that you advertise with them and so that people browsing can find what they want to find. Their own Google Analytics Academy is worth reading as is the Yoast Guide. For video check out
A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding Google Analytics or Introduction to Google Search Console. And here is a good article at Ahrefs Blog ‘The Only 3 Google Analytics Metrics You Need to Track‘.
Log in to your Google Analytics account – If you have Google Analytics on your website and want to access the figures click on Google Analytics or do a search in Google for Google Analytics. You will have to have a Google account to access this.
Once you log in you can click on Audience and then tweak the dates to see how many visitors you are getting. Plus a plethora of other results, such as how long they stay, how many pages they visit, where they enter and leave and so much more.
Add someone as a user to your Google Analytics account– You can add someone as a user on your Google Analytics account so they can ‘collaborate’ or study the traffic data. Or they can work with you on your Google Analytics as an Editor. You pick the level of access you want to share, with your Digital Marketers. Here is a guide from Google that covers how they plan to migrate accounts automatically to GA4, stay up to speed with what is happening. “About automatically created Google Analytics 4 properties. What to expect in your new Google Analytics 4 property“.
Simply go to Google Analytics, then click on Admin in the bottom left hand corner, look at User Account Management and use the big blue + plus button in the top right corner to add [email protected] as a user.
Google Analytics 4
Check out GA4 or Google Analytics 4 which became available in late 2020, and could run in parallel alongside the standard Google Universal Analytics on your property. This GA4 consolidates data from your websites and any mobile apps in to a single set of its own reports, using Data Streams, to enable you to do cross-platform analysis. Google will use Machine Learning to collect data, but in a way that does not breach GDPR or any CCPA California legislation. This is the main reason for this move in the first place, so the logic for doing it is sound. However you will need to set this up manually. And the sooner you do it the better.
To set this up, read the Google GA4 setup Guide HERE. As Google Universal Analytics is soon going to shut down, as in end June 2022, then it follows that migrating to GA4 Google Analytics 4 is crucial if you want to continue using Googles own free analytics tool.
What’s Missing in GA4 from UA
Lots of key UA features, Behavior Flow, Views, Bounce Rate now changed to Engagement Rate, Annotations and any historical data from UA. Bounce rate is not available in GA4, as Google will use a new metric called “Engagement Rate” using their formula to determine if a visitor engages with a website.
Universal Analytics will be going away in 2023 – do not say you were not warned.
Until July 1, 2023, you can continue to use and collect new data in your Universal Analytics properties. You may have up to 25 years of data collected.
After July 1, 2023, you’ll be able to access your previously processed data in your Universal Analytics property for at least six months. Full Google Statement. After this time your data will no longer be available.
More than likely you do not care which version of analytics you have on your website. And whether it is the older Universal Analytics or the new GA4 there will be more data than you would ever want to look at. But the bottom line is that the old version is being retired, so you do need to install the newer GA4. And the sooner you do it the better, so that you can start tracking and building up data that you can use in the years to come.
Or contact us if you want some help and you are a Professional Services business based in Ireland. We can migrate your tracking from the current Universal Analytics to the new GA4.
Every website should already have the Google Analytics tracking code installed, so you may have been collecting the visitor data on your website for up to 25 years, when it was set up originally as UA or Urchin Analytics, which Google bought, then built upon to create its own Classic Analytics in 2007 and then this evolved in to Universal Analytics in 2012. This move to GA4 will create a better tool for collecting event data from a multiple of platforms. And it may well also be advantageous to Google, as they will be able to say from 2023 that they do not have any visitor data that they should not have. This could save them billions in fines for breaches of privacy. However it will take some time for us all to learn how to use this new tool. It is the future, but we need to do something in the present, to set this up on our websites. Will you do it yourself or get someone to do it for you?
Here is the Google Guide to setting up Google Analytics 4. Add it to to a site that already has Analytics. Set up a Google Analytics 4 (GA4) property alongside your existing Universal Analytics property – your ‘Property’ is your website. Use the time between now and end of June 2023 to start compiling data that you can use from July 2023. Meantime, you can still use the data in Universal Analytics when looking at stats for now.
There are two ways to setup GA4 Google Tag ManagerGA4 is less about ‘views’ and more about events. There are 4 different types of events recorded through GA4:
Setting up GA4
DIY List to do it yourself
You can get this list from Google here in its own words.
In Google Analytics, click Settings Admin (lower left). In the Account column, pick your ‘account‘ if you have more than one. Then, in the Property column select the Analytics property account for your selected website and then in the property column, select GA4 setup assistant and click Get Started, where you should then select ‘I want to create a new Google Analytics 4 Property’. Next we have a few steps.
Create ‘Property’ and the wizard or assistant will create this new ‘property’ as such.
Name your property if it is not copied over from an existing Google Analytics account.
Choose the time zone that applies to your business, then choose the currency that applies to your business.
It will also Create a connection between your Universal Analytics and GA4 properties. This connection makes it possible for you to use Setup Assistant in your Google Analytics 4 property to migrate configurations from your UA Universal Analytics property to your GA4 property
Once this process is complete, you will see “You have successfully connected your properties” at the top of your Google Analytics 4 Property Setup Assistant page.
Select an Industry & Company or business size.
Set the data stream name in the Property column and switch on ‘Enhanced Measurement’ and then choose iOS (for iOS apps), Android (for Android apps) or Web (for websites) for example https://meanit.ie/ , whichever applies to your particular business.
Tag or Tagging Settings
Set up cross-domain tracking
Filter out internal traffic (internal IP addresses in your office or remote office locations)
Set referral exclusions to indicate any referral sites that should be considered as direct traffic
Set session duration before timeout, where the default is 30 minutes of inactivity before timeout
Global site tag to be hard-coded on the website or GTM Google Tag Manager which we do recommended, to make it easier to track and manage
Test with GTM preview mode or test with the GA4 DebugView
Adjust Admin Settings
Data Settings – Change data retention to 12 months from the default setting of 2
Attribution Settings- Change reporting attribution to Data driven, First click, last click, position based, linear or the time decay
Change lookback window, keep to the recommend options, with 30 days for ‘Acquisition conversion events and 90 days for all other conversion events.
Product Linking – Set up links to applicable products, such as Google Ads, or Ads Manager links etc.
Events and Conversions
Set up events in GTM Google Tag Manager using GA4 event tags
Validate event data using options listed in section 6 Mark any events as a conversion
Custom Definitions in Configure
Add any custom event parameters as custom dimensions
If you followed all these steps, well done. If you are goggle-eyed at all this, book us or a competent web desigh agency to do it for you. The countdown is on as you have less than 12 possible months of data to track from right now.