3 min read

Introduction to GA4

Introduction to GA4

By now, most digital marketing professionals know that Google is sunsetting Universal Analytics on July 1, 2023. If you haven’t started the process of switching your GA accounts over to GA4, now’s the time to get started. The goal of this post is to review the steps you need to take to switch to GA4 and the main differences between GA4 and UA.

Think you may have gaps in your SEO knowledge? Get our FREE eBook with every  single basic concept related to SEO.

Transitioning to GA4

Corridor Business Journal recently posted an article reviewing the steps to transition to GA4. To summarize, if you have been using Google Analytics for over two years, you must create a new GA4 property. In addition, when backing up your GA data, it’s possible to manually export data using the Google Analytics Query Explorer dev tool. Alternatively, for those storing their data in Google Big Query, there is no need to manually export because all of the historical data is already being held in the tables in the cloud-based data warehouse.

To create your new GA4 property, simply follow the steps from the GA4 Setup Assistant. The steps are explained thoroughly in Google’s help article here.

GA4 vs UA 

There are critical differences between the old Google Analytics release and GA4, which we’ll cover in this section. To illustrate how UA differs from GA4, we’ll use the Google Merchandise Store demo account, which includes a UA property and a GA4 property.

  • Home screen: The home screen in your GA4 property is based on your history. Therefore, the page shows reports that you typically pull and metrics that it thinks are relevant to you. On the contrary, the GA Universal Analytics shows a standard view for all users. See examples below:

UA Home


GA4 Home

  • Navigation Bar: In Universal Analytics, the navigation bar includes reports separated by Real-time, Audience, Acquisition, Behavior, and Conversions. With GA4, the navigation changes. The categories are divided between Life Cycle metrics and User metrics, and consists of Acquisition, Engagement, Monetization, Demographics, and Tech. 

Universal Analytics GA4

  • Metrics: Not only does the reporting layout change in GA4, but you might also notice that there are some new metrics and some redefined metrics. We’ll go into more detail in the next section.
  • Insights: When using GA4, the “insights” function makes it possible to simply type in the metric you’re looking for, rather than navigate to a specific report. In addition, there is an option to copy the metric right in the search results for quick reporting needs. 

This is a huge improvement over the search feature in UA. As an example, I searched “bounce” and rather than being provided with the metric of interest, I was directed to a report that didn’t have exactly what I was looking for:

Engaged Sessions

An example of a new metric is ‘engaged sessions’. This is defined as a session that “lasts 10 seconds or longer, has 1 or more conversion events, or has 2 or more page or screen views.” 

Bounce Rate

Taking this a step further, GA4 uses this metric to redefine another metric: bounce rate. In UA, bounce rate was the percentage of sessions where a user viewed a single page and there was no interaction on the page. This session is given a 0-second duration. However, in GA4 a bounce is counted if the session is NOT an engaged session (meaning it doesn’t meet any of the criteria outlined above). 

That being said, the bounce rate might look significantly lower in GA4 than UA. This is useful to know for businesses with blogs because UA could have overestimated the bounce rate if users remained on one page and read an article without clicking another link. In GA4, those sessions wouldn’t count as a bounce.

Transition to GA4, or else…

For those who don’t switch their accounts to GA4 by July 1st, your old property will no longer receive website data and there’s a chance you can lose all of your historical data. If you want to keep your data, switch to GA4. If you’ve been using Google Analytics for less than two years, there’s a good chance you’re already using GA4, and if you’re just starting to use GA now, then GA4 is the new default property. 

Your SEO Resource

There will be a steep learning curve for GA4, but at Hire A Writer, our team stays up-to-date on the new releases. We’re comfortable using GA4 for our clients based on our training through Skillshop and by experimenting with reporting in the Google Merchandise demo account.

Contact us today to learn more about how our team can help you excel in both content-based SEO and technical SEO.

seo blog subscription

Going, Going, Gone–Migrating from Universal Analytics to GA4

Going, Going, Gone–Migrating from Universal Analytics to GA4

Universal Analytics is going away–poof, gone, see ya never! But don’t worry, it’s being replaced by the newer, shinier, more robust GA4 which...

Read More
Mastering Event Parameters in GA4

Mastering Event Parameters in GA4

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is a powerful tool that provides deep insights into website performance. While GA4 comes pre-configured with some metrics...

Read More
Google Optimize Shutting Down

Google Optimize Shutting Down

Google retired Google Optimize on September 30, 2022. Marketers have had to transition A/B testing activities to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) going...

Read More