Should I upgrade to Google Analytics 4


Briefly, yes. In this blog post, you will find out how and why you should start using the GA4 property parallel with Universal Analytics (UA/GA3).

There are many how-to blog posts out there, so this will not be yet another one. Instead of the technical step-by-step guidance, I’ll share my experience with implementing GA4 with Google Tag Manager (GTM) and what to keep in mind when activating the GA4 property.

Of course, I’ll also provide you with how-to, step-by-step blog post links that helped me to initially configure GA4 and start receiving insightful information about visitor activity. If you don’t already use Google Tag Manager (GTM), now is the time to start. Because you won’t need to add another code in your HTML head tag and thus negatively affect the performance of your webshop. The only code in the HTML of your webshop will be the GTM container code.

Ok, the question in the title is answered but that doesn’t mean you actually have the complete answer because other questions beginning to reveal. Like, how to properly configure GA4 and what to do with GA3? What does parallel tracking mean? Should I replicate all my tracking tags from there? What if I’m starting from scratch? Many professionals in the analytics industry have analyzed the pros and cons of GA4, compared it with GA3, and tested it. If you want to dig deeper into the details and differences between the two GA properties I suggest reading this blog post. After configuring several GA4 properties, reading all the blog posts that I found useful, and after listening to what other experts said on the topic in this year’s Mesuresummit, I’ll give you here my two cents.

Why GA4?

Because new is always better. Ehm… not necessarily. The general impression is that Google is slowly improving the GA4 and, eventually, it will become the main analytics platform, so the sooner we start to collect data and start to learn how to use the new platform and read the data, the better. And that really are the main reasons. But, for now, I don’t recommend using GA4 as the only property in a Google Analytics account because GA4 simply does not contain some features that GA3 has. Here is the regularly updated list of missing features from

Currently, the GA4 property is already the default property when creating a new one. However, you can also open Universal Analytics (GA3) as an “advanced” option. The advice is to open them both if you’re just starting with Google Analytics. If you already have the GA3 property, then just click on the Setup Assistant and follow the instructions. Among many step-by-step tutorials on the web, I’ll recommend this one – how to initially set up the GA4 property and this one – GA4 setup tips.

GA4 property admin image

What basics to keep in mind when setting up GA4?

Increase the event data retention to 14 months.

By default, the data retention is set up to 2 months. Increase it to maximum possible 14 months. Yes, I know, it’s still a somewhat limited amount of time to retain data, but you still have GA3 when you want to compare the data to e.g. a previous year.

Activate Internal Traffic data filter.

Another thing where I have been slipped is the Internal Traffic filter setup. It’s really easy, you just click on Data Streams > More tagging settings > Define internal traffic > Create. And then just enter e.g. your company IP address because you don’t want to include your clicks in visitor analysis data and voila – your internal clicks continue to appear in GA4. Why? Because the Internal Traffic option is not activated by default. Internal Traffic data filter must be activated in Data Filters. By default, the value is set to Testing.

Check if you receive the data only for the hostname you want to track.

Be sure to check from what hostname is GA4 collecting data. You want it to be only your webshop hostname. GA4 does not have a views option like GA3 where you can filter hostnames. The best practice for hostname filtering in GA4 is to do it through GTM. You can find here this step-by-step process nicely described.

Create at least a purchase event.

When I first have set up the GA4 property I did not include any additional event. All enhanced eCommerce events are already tracked in GA3 so I thought why track the same events in GA4. Also, the new GA4 is tracking some events by default, like page views, scrolls, site searches, file downloads, and others. When the GA4 becomes the main analytics tool, then yes, all events should be implemented but it’s not unnecessary now, I thought. But, after several days when the data started to show, I noticed that it’s not really enough useful to collect data on a webshop without at least one main event – purchase event.

The event concept in GA4 is different than GA3, but despite that, you can set up GA4 events relatively easily with your existing enhanced eCommerce setup (precisely, with your current enhanced eCommerce data layer) except for the purchase event, of course. 🙂 But, like always, there is a solution.

Google Analytics defines the structure and parameters for the purchase event (and all other events). But the parameters for purchase are quite different than how are they defined in GA3 enhanced eCommerce Data Layer. To update the key-value pairs in the Data Layer, usually, you would need to ask a developer for help. Instead, you can use Simo Ahava’s custom variable template in GTM that will convert enhanced eCommerce purchase data to the defined GA4 purchase data parameters. Here you can find out how can you properly set up a purchase event in GA4 with the existing GA3 enhanced eCommerce data layer on your webshop.

Will Universal Analytics (GA3) be deprecated?

No worries, it will definitely continue to collect data. Who else remembers what Google Analytics looked like before Universal Analytics? Maybe if you were a digital marketing pioneer. But I was curious and found out that it was called Classic Analytics and even you can’t open it today, every webpage that used it still receives the website data. So, Universal Analytics won’t go anywhere soon.

As I mentioned earlier, I suggest using both properties. After all, if you’re used to the Universal Analytics (GA3) platform and you can easily find the data you are interested in, and this data can help you make conclusions about the user behavior, and overall can help you optimize the user experience, then let the GA3 remain your main analytics tool. But, don’t forget the GA4 property, use the time to research it and to get used to the new interface and all new possibilities that GA4 brings to the table.

After all, the GA4 is the GA3 successor and in the near future, Google will allow opening only GA4 property and this will push all other digital marketing applications and platforms to adjust and develop new solutions entirely keeping the GA4 in mind.

If all this sounds too much technical to you, or you simply don’t have the time to properly set up the GA4 property yourself, then it is best to assign the job to someone who did it before like we at Inchoo have done it many times. So, without any obligation, feel free to contact us and we will do our best to set up your tracking and help you achieve your business goals.

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