Google Analytics 4 has a few serious and well-founded concerns. You should, however, go all-in. This is why:
When it comes to Google Analytics 4, there is a lot of hate out there.
I understand. It’s a new product with a different appearance, feel, and function from what we’ve come to expect from Universal Analytics.
And, as several readers have pointed out, it still lacks features.
With that stated, I’m here to share an unpopular opinion: GA4 is a fantastic tool. Not only that, but it’s a lot more future-proof (think privacy, cookies and scaled data models).
But first, I’d like to go through some of the more serious visual concerns that GA4 is now dealing with. So let’s take a look at some of the most common criticisms and counter-arguments to why you should use Google Analytics 4.
Argument 1: Universal Analytics is good; there’s no need to change anything.
Contrary to popular belief, Universal Analytics (launched in 2012) is ten years old and is based on the same code base as Classic Analytics (ga.js, circa 2007) and Urchin Analytics (urchin.js, pre-2005 acquisition by Google).
This codebase and product are from a long time ago. Your Analytics tool, like most of the software you use, should have experienced considerable modifications and updates over time.
Universal Analytics was not really designed for the internet we have now. It won’t do well in the face of increased privacy legislation, cookie loss, and other issues. We need a tool that is designed specifically for today’s and tomorrow’s online world.
In terms of privacy, GA4 has recently introduced a number of new data protections and has stopped storing IP addresses. This is fantastic news.
Is it the answer to all of our GDPR concerns? No, most likely not. But it’s progressing in the right direction, and the Google Analytics team is obviously constantly working to provide restrictions and solutions that will comply with the legislation while allowing GA customers to continue to use Google Analytics how they see fitting.
Argument 2: GA4 is lacking a lot of functionality.
Contrary to popular belief, GA4 is improving every day. Is it flawless? No. But, isn’t perfection the enemy of the good?
GA4 has continued to add new features and improve since its original beta release in 2019, and the rate of innovation is increasing. Below are just a few of the new things that have come out in the last few months:
- Sub-properties and rollups (360 customers)
- GMP integrations – now free for all customers
- New UTMs
- Landing Page dimension
- New privacy settings
I’ll focus on one element that’s particularly relevant to SEOs: GA4 now includes a landing page dimension! While there isn’t a built-in landing page report, you can simply create one using the additional customization capabilities we’ll discuss next.
Argument 3: The new user interface is terrible; I can’t seem to find anything!
Contrary to popular belief, what if you don’t like it? You have the ability to alter it!
You may now customize not just the left-side navigation but also the reports themselves for the first time in Google Analytics history.
Here are some examples of how you may personalize the user interface and reports:
- Do you want to create a report collection in the navigation specifically for the marketing team so they can get to critical reports quickly and easily? This is something you can do.
- Are some of the report’s metrics or dimensions irrelevant to your business? They can be taken out.
- You don’t like the report’s visuals? Because I dislike the scatter plot visual, I’ve deleted it from the majority of my reports.
Argument 4: I do not like the new data model. Everything should be ruled by sessions!
Contrary to popular belief, the new data model is really rather good. Universal Analytics relied on sessionization, which produced plenty of difficulties with data scalability and things like UI sampling.
Like many other product analytics systems, GA4 employs an events and parameter data model. Everything in this paradigm is an event, including pageviews. This data model provides a lot more structure and flexibility.
This data model is condensed into suggested and custom event and parameter names, and the events themselves are differentiated by the values gathered, allowing for a far more streamlined and structured implementation.
Google Analytics 4 is a significant upgrade.
The latest version of Google Analytics has become second nature to us. I can’t promise that the transfer will go without a hitch.
GA4 is a brand-new tool that you will need to learn and invest in. But I’m confident that once you do, you’ll love the extra features it offers and how it will help you expand in the future.