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Upgrade to Google Analytics 4 (GA4): The Ultimate Guide for Data-Driven Businesses

Carolyn Lowe
May 8, 2023
Last Modified:
May 8, 2023


As a data-driven business owner, you rely on accurate and comprehensive data to make informed decisions and optimize your online presence. Google Analytics has been a staple tool for tracking website and app data, but with the recent shift to Google Analytics 4 (GA4), it's important to understand how to upgrade and migrate your data to ensure seamless continuity of insights and analysis. If you don’t upgrade and set it up the way you want, Google will migrate for you but not all the fields and the setup are the same. So, it’s best if you migrate yourself versus letting Google do it for you.

In this guide, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of upgrading to GA4, including:

  • Creating a new GA4 property and data stream
  • Collecting website and app data
  • Turning on Google signals, setting up conversions 
  • Adding users 
  • Linking to Google Ads
  • Migrating audiences
  • Validating conversions 
  • Importing conversions into Google Ads for bidding
  • Adding Analytics audiences to a campaign or ad group for remarketing

We will also discuss how to determine whether you are currently using Universal Analytics or GA4, based on your Google Analytics property ID. You can find this by going to:
Admin > Property > Property Settings

It’s fairly simple to set up if you are experienced with websites, Google Analytics and Google Ads. If you’re not, contact us today to migrate.

App and Website Tracking All Within One Property:

With GA4, business owners can track website and app data in the same property, which is not available in Universal Analytics.

Features in Universal Analytics Not Available in Google Analytic 4

  • As with all things, when new versions of things come out, certain things are deprecated. Here’s a list of the features in Universal that aren’t in GA4:
  • Excluding URL Query Parameters
  • Manage Brand Terms
  • Calculated Metrics
  • Annotations (for example, if you had a big TV airing and you wanted to notate what happened that day.)
  • Custom Channel Groupings
  • Scheduled email - however, you can use Looker Data Studio (formerly Google Data Studio) to create a report and auto email it on a schedule.

Other Disadvantages of GA4

Like many new software or version releases, one disadvantage is simply familiarity – we knew where everything was in Universal Analytics! In GA4, they have moved around some features and renamed others. However, like anything else, seasoned GA users will quickly get the hang of GA4.

How to Create Your GA4 Property

Step 1: Create a GA4 property and data stream

The first step in upgrading to GA4 is to create a new GA4 property and data stream. This can be done using the GA4 Setup Assistant, which is a tool provided by Google to help streamline the process. The effort required for this step is very low, as the GA4 Setup Assistant guides you through the process and automates most of the tasks.

Here’s what it looks like when your GA is fully set up. 

google analytics 4 example

To create a GA4 property and data stream, follow these steps:

  • Log in to your Google Analytics account and navigate to the Admin section.
  • 2. Click on the "Create Property" button.
  • 3. Select "GA4 property" from the options.
  • 4. Follow the prompts provided by the GA4 Setup Assistant to set up your GA4 property and data stream.
  • 5. Once the property and data stream are set up, you will be provided with a new GA4 property ID, which will have only numbers (XXXXXXXXX).

Step 2: Collect website and app data

The next step is to collect website and app data in your GA4 property. This step may require varying levels of effort, depending on whether you are able to reuse your existing tags or need to set up new ones.

If you are using a website builder or CMS like Shopify, you may be able to set up data collection by following their instructions. This process typically involves adding your GA4 property ID to your website's code or integrating it with your website builder or CMS.

If you are unable to reuse your existing tags, you may need to set up new ones manually. This may involve adding tracking codes to your website's HTML or JavaScript, or implementing data collection through the Google Tag Manager.

Step 3: Turn on Google signals

Google signals are a powerful feature in GA4 that allow you to leverage additional insights and capabilities, such as enhanced remarketing and reporting. Turning on Google signals is a very low-effort task and is highly recommended to take full advantage of GA4's features.

To turn on Google signals, follow these steps:

  1. Go to your GA4 property settings in the Admin section of Google Analytics.
  2. Click on the "Data Collection" tab.
  3. Under the "Data Collection" section, toggle the switch to turn on Google signals.

Step 4: Set up conversions

Conversions are key metrics that help you track the success of your online marketing efforts. Setting up conversions in GA4 is a medium effort task, but can be made easier with the help of the Goals migration tool provided by Google.

To set up conversions in GA4, follow these steps:

  • Go to your GA4 property settings in the Admin section.
  • Click on the "Conversions" tab.
  • Click on the "Set up conversions" button.
  • Use the Goals migration tool.

Related Features from Universal Analytics to GA4

Many features are similar or close between Universal Analytics and GA4. These are some of the main ones and where to find them. 

Universal AnalyticsGoogle Analytics 4
Website URL: View settingsWebsite URL: Web data-stream settings
Timezone: View settingsTimezone: Property settings
Currency: View settingsCurrency: Property settings
Bot filtering: View settingsBot filtering: Bot-traffic exclusion
Modeling settings > Enable Data-Driven Models (360 only)No Option
Site search settingsSend a search event each time an user searches on the site.
User management for views
Add, edit, delete users and user groups
User permissions
Since there are no views in Google Analytics 4, user access and permissions are handled at the account and property levels.
Add, edit, delete users and user groups
User permissions
GoalsMark events as conversions
Conversion events are defined for the property, whereas in Universal Analytics, goals are defined at the view level.
Ecommerce setupMonetization reports are provided by default as part of the Life cycle collection in the left navigation.
Implement ecommerce events via the measurement code
*Source: Google Support Website


Google Analytics 4 has some powerful features that users will like as well as a fundamental shift in how data is collected and reported. 

In Universal Analytics, data was collected with website tags placed on each page. GA4 uses what they call, “event-based tracking.” Event-based tracks interactions as they happen instead of relying on page views. The result is better accuracy and flexibility in reporting. 

We’ve already migrated roiswift.com and we’d be happy to help you do it as well. Contact us today for help.

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