What’s up, tech marketers? Remember in May when we talked about the importance of setting up your Google Analytics 4 account now so that you don’t have any gaps in your reporting when Universal Analytics (UA) lays down to rest next year?
Well, if this is the first time hearing about it, consider yourself informed.
Setting up your GA4 is a lot easier said than done. While it’s similar to UA, there are enough differences to make your setup less than intuitive. And of course, you don’t just want to turn the switches on. You also want to make sure your reporting is set up in a way that makes sense for your business.
No one can help you migrate to GA4 better than Google, so if you’re starting from scratch, we highly recommend checking out its helpful GA4 Migration Guide. But we’re here to provide a few helpful tips, tweaks, and customisations that will speed up the migration process.
How to Tweak Your Data Retention Period (MOST Important)
Before you do anything else, you must (must) adjust your data retention period otherwise this whole exercise is moot. In Google Analytics 4, the data retention period is set to two months by default (you currently have more options Universal Analytics).
So, if you want to avoid reporting gaps, you need to change this setting to 14 months, the secondary option, which takes you well over UA’s finish line.
Keep in mind that if you want a longer date range for your data, you’ll need to export it manually every 14 months. Check out these Google Analytics guidelines for more info.
Here’s how to do it:
- From the GA4 home page go to Admin at the bottom left hand side (make sure you’re on the right account and property, of course!)
- In the 2nd column, click on Data Settings
- Click on Data Retention
- Select ‘14 months’ from the dropdown menu
- Click Save
How to Add Internal Filters
The next trick isn’t as urgent, but still fairly important if you like clean data. Just like your existing UA property, you should be filtering out any IP addresses that are coming from members of your own team. This is a fairly simple way to ensure more accurate reporting.
Remember to add the existing filters from UA into GA4 to make them as close as possible to each other.
Here’s how to do it:
- Make a list of all the IP addresses coming from your internal team
- In GA4, go to Admin, Data Streams and click on your website data stream
- Click on More Tagging Settings> Definite Internal Traffic
- Click Create and follow the steps to label the filter and input the IP address. This can be done individually or you can put multiple IPs in the same group. Make sure the label stays as ‘Internal’.
- Click back a few times to return to the main Admin page. Then click Data Settings> Data Filters.
- You’ll find a pre-configured internal traffic filter. Click anywhere on it to edit. At the bottom, the filter state needs to be changed from Testing to Active. If you’re not sure about whether or not you’ve done this correctly then leave it as testing for a week or so and check your data is ok. Then change the filter state to Active. These filters are final – you cannot undo and get the data back so be careful.
Looking for more detailed instructions. Google has it covered.
A Testing Workaround
One issue with internal filters is that if anyone on your team wants to run a test, they’re obviously now invisible. Here’s a handy guide on how to test anything on your site (e.g. conversions), while still being filtered out.
How to Link GA4 and Google Search Console
Remember to link Google Search Console to your GA4 property. As you know, Google Search Console allows you to keep track of any Search-related data, such as what users are searching before they click on your site and how your site is ranking.
Here’s how to do it:
- From the Admin page, select the property you want to link.
- Select Search Console links from Product Links in the Properties column.
- Click on Link> Choose Accounts
- Select the right account
- Click Confirm> Next
- Select web data stream
- Click Next, then review and hit Submit
You can’t normally link more than one Analytics property to a Google Search Console property, but in this case, you can link your Universal Analytics and your GA4.
How to Enable Google Signals (Especially for PPC)
Google signals data lets you know more about your customers from their Google account. If the user has Ads Personalization turned on, then Google can develop a persona based on the sites they visit and how they interact on different browsers and websites.
While this is more helpful for PPC than for SEO, it’s worth doing anyway.
When you set up your GA4 account, you’ll be asked if you want to activate Google signals. We recommend flipping this switch.
Setup Conversion Events
In UA, conversions used to be called ‘Goals’ or ‘Goal Completions’, but now these are called Conversions. Because the setup in GA4 is slightly different from what you’re used to, you’ll have to set these up manually. And if you want year-on-year data this time next year, you should probably do this step as soon as possible.
GA4 no longer organizes goals or completions into Categories, Actions, and Labels. Everything now falls under the Event name that you’ve marked as a Conversion.
This is a very important step in your Google Analytics 4 setup, so we’re not going to even try to say it better than Google. You’ll find the setup instructions here: Set up and Manage Conversion Events.
Need More Help Setting up GA4?
As part of our onboarding process, we make sure that all Geeky Tech clients are set up with the right analytics tracking. We want our clients to know exactly how their SEO changes are performing month per month. If your analytics reports are a tangled web of confusion, you might not even know what opportunities you’re missing. But we can help.