Upgrading to Google Analytics 4

Upgrading to Google Analytics 4

 August 2, 2022

Google's Universal Analytics (UA) properties will be deprecated (will no longer process data) on July 1st 2023 in favor of the new and improved Google Analytics 4 (GA4) which launched a couple years ago. This isn't the first time Google has introduced a new Google Analytics tracking code, but this time, the upgraded tracking code also comes with an entirely new property type and reporting interface. For that reason, many webmasters have elected to delay the upgrade and stick with the old version (Universal Analytics), but as the deprecation date is now less than a year away, it's a great time to make the upgrade.

Google only guarantees access to your data for six months after the deprecation date, so if your historical data is important to you, be sure to download your data as soon as possible. And to maximize the amount of historical data in your new GA4 property, you should complete the GA4 upgrade as soon as possible.

Note that quite a bit has changed with GA4. Not just the tracking code and reporting interface, but also the way pageviews and other interactions are tracked. So for developers, this isn't going to be a simple drop-in replacement like the last upgrade to Universal Analytics.

Changes to the default tracking config

GA4 tracks pageviews automatically via the native browser history stack. In other words, modern websites with React-routing are no longer required to fire custom pageview events when the URL changes. By default, GA4 also tracks scroll events, outbound link clicks, site searches (via URL parameters), video engagement, and file downloads. Fortunately, the Javascript syntax for firing custom events has not changed, so at the code level, developers only need to update the tracking code and remove manual event trackers that are now handled natively by GA4 (particularly pageviews). Failure to remove these manual pageview event triggers, for example, would likely cause double pageview reporting since the new GA4 tracking code already handles it.

Changes to the property structure

Another big departure is the removal of “views” from the property structure. The hierarchy is only two levels deep now (account > property) whereas the hierarchy was previously three levels deep (account > property > view). With the removal of “views”, we are now forced to configure our “Filters”, “Goals” and other settings at the “Property” level. While many users may have never used multiple “views”, others have relied on “views” to configure filtered reports (e.g. internal traffic vs external traffic), often using IP address filtering. But now, to achieve filtered vs unfiltered data, you need distinct properties with filtering configured at the property level.

Changes to the Reporting UI

The reporting UI has changed a lot. While the same types of data are still available, the menu structure and appearance has changed a lot. The traditional reporting UI is no longer the sole focus, as more emphasis has been placed on a new “explore” (data explorer) interface as well as a new “advertising” reports UI. Even the traditional reports UI has been significantly reorganized and restructured with new labels and hierarchy to boot. But if you know what you are looking for, it's not hard to find it in the new interface. It will take some getting used to, but the new interface will surely become as familiar as the last one in time.

How does this affect iHOUSEweb customers?

We've got it covered. The iHOUSEweb traffic reports do get their data from Google Analytics, but our developers are handling the upgrade so that there will be no interruption to your traffic report data.

Kevin Ashley

By Kevin Ashley

Kevin is a Web Developer and Marketing Expert for iHOUSEweb. He has a degree in Mathematics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and he specializes in front end web development, web advertising, and web analytics. Kevin works closely with real estate agents all over the US, and he helps to communicate their needs to the team of Software Engineers at iHOUSEweb.