No. Don’t “Upgrade” to Google Analytics 4 (GA4). Instead, install it and run it in Parallel.

May 13th, 2022 by Will Scott

Don’t “Upgrade” To Google Analytics 4 (GA4) Just Yet

Google has been urging Analytics usersĀ  – mostly by email – to “Upgrade” to Google Analytics 4 (GA4).

At Search Influence, we are installing GA4 but not “upgrading” just yet.

No doubt, GA4 will be a great improvement, but there are a few really compelling reasons not to go all in just yet.

A while back, David, our senior web developer, wrote a pretty comprehensive blog post about switching to Google Analytics 4, which you should check out. Below, I’ll reiterate a couple of his points, plus a few more.

Screenshot of Google Universal Analytics

Google Analytics And The Cookie-less Future

In short, a big reason for this change is to accommodate a cookie-less world. As users can now opt out of tracking, it may be more difficult to gather user experience data if cookies are the way you get that done.

Google Analytics 4 is not yet a fully baked product. Google tends to take an agile development approach and test new products and features with users.

Even though it is Cookie-based, Universal Analytics – the current version – is a stable product.

Do You Even Track Metrics, Bro?

Google Analytics is great, but there are things it doesn’t do well. Some of the tools that you use to supplement Google Analytics may be negatively impacted if you make the switch too early.

Some examples:

In short, just because the Google Analytics team is ready for you to switch doesn’t mean everybody else is. Third parties and even some Google Properties development teams have to catch up to the GA4 APIs and interface changes.

Third-party tool providers need a chance to get caught up with the new Google Analytics.

Search Influence And GA4 For Clients

Google plans to deprecate Universal Analytics as of July 1, 2023.

In the next few weeks, we will be installing the GA4 tracking code on our client sites (again, alongside Universal Analytics) or recommending their developers do if we don’t have access.

This way, we will have a full year’s worth of data when Universal Analytics sunsets.

We’re not making a wholesale switch right now for the reasons above, but we feel it’s important to start collecting data in the new tool to enable good historical reporting in future years.

We use CallRail and Google Data Studio for most of our client reporting and some internal dashboards, too. We are not willing to risk the integrity of that data for decision-making and reporting to move the newest, coolest Google toy.

Again, David’s post goes into much more detail about switching to GA4, but I hope this gives a high-level view of the Search Influence approach to integrating this new platform.

And, of course, if you need help setting up Analytics, Tracking, and Reporting for your organization, please get in touch. We’d love to help.