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Migrating from UA to GA4: migrate to GA4 before July 1st

1st Feb, 2023

Table of contents

Introduction to GA4 migration
Why is GA4 migration necessary?
How to migrate to GA4
New features in GA4
Move to GA4 now!

Introduction to GA4 migration

On 1st July Google will be turning off data collection Universal Analytics (UA), which has been around since October 2012. Until fairly recently this was the latest version of Google’s free web analytics offering, but after nearly a decade, in October 2020 Google introduced Google Analytics 4 (commonly known as GA4 to save time in discussions at the office!) which has run alongside UA for a few years now.

Whilst the UA interface will remain accessible, it will stop collecting/processing new data at the start of July, so it’s important to make sure that GA4 tracking is implemented ASAP. This is for a number of reasons:

  • Ideally you want to be able to compare new and old metrics and make sure you can explain any discrepancies
  • The sooner you make the switch, the more historical data you will have in the latest interface to help with decision making
  • Implementing a web analytics package can be relatively simple if you only care about pageviews — however this is not the case for most savvy businesses. It’s worth allowing time to test your setup whilst you have UA to compare it to
  • There are some significant differences to both the user interface (UI) and metrics and dimensions. It could take a while to become proficient in using and understanding the latest version

Why is GA4 migration necessary?

Okay, strictly speaking it’s not necessary to move to GA4 — you could have a website without any analytics (not recommended!), or you could opt for a different system than Google Analytics 4.

There are more niche/affordable options out there, such as Matomo and Piwik, as well as big hitters such as Adobe. If you’re really keen then you could look into more hardcore approaches such as building your own web analytics platform (probably rarely necessary outside of FTSE 500 companies) or using the basic log files that come with most web hosting.

If you’re reading this, however, chances are that you are currently using Google Analytics and therefore the most straightforward thing to do is to just update the version to GA4, and here are some other strong reasons to:

  • It’s free
  • It links nicely with other Google products such as Google Ads, Search Console (which helps with optimising your site’s SEO), and more
  • The interface and metrics will be to some extent similar
  • Despite some of the differences from UA listed above, it’s more straightforward than switching to a different provider entirely

How to migrate to GA4

This section refers to “how to technically move onto the GA4 platform” — not “how to do everything in GA4 you did in UA”. The reason for that is that it would be impossible to go into detail that worked for everyone, because over time people customise their software to fit their organisation or business. In general though, the steps would as follows:

Create a new GA4 property
Add code to web site (there are various way to do this including a fairly automated approach if you have UA already set up)
Optional: add code to your apps, if applicable (NB: this is a whole different post at some point)
Log into the new property in GA4!
Google’s own checklist seems a good place to start if you want to go through the process yourself.


Done, right? Nope, there’s plenty more to do before you actually have parity with where you were in Univeral Analytics.

  • Make sure you understand the new way of thinking in GA4 — it’s about events rather than pageviews (this is largely so that the model can generalise to include mobile apps
  • Recreate key views in the UI that you had in UA
  • Recreate any standard reports you rely upon
  • Reimplement any conversion points or goals you were tracking
  • Connect GA4 to all the other Google products you are used to seeing (e.g. Google Ads, Search Console)
  • Make sure the right users have access to the right views
  • Confirm any other 3rd party integrations (e.g. reporting, data warehousing, CRM) are up to date


It seems like a lot, but the good news is that analytics migrations don’t happen that often, and there are some really good reasons that Google have decided to push this out as a new version rather than a seamless upgrade to an old interface/methodology. In the next sections we’ll look briefly at some of the new features that GA4 brings in.

New features in GA4

There are a whole bunch of new ways of thinking or new features that come your way with GA4, some of which we’ve touched upon above. We’d strongly encourage users to take this opportunity to learn more about analytics in general (i.e. what it can do for you as a discipline), but also how to get the most out of GA4. Since you’re being asked to move to and learn a new(ish) system, it’s a natural time to spend a little more time learning more than just the basics. Some key new features to consider are below:

  • As mentioned above, the event-based approach is the key to understanding some of the really smart bits of GA4. Rather than add code to record “conversions” via a “thank you” page as one might in UA, in GA4 all interactions can be recorded as events which leads to a much richer picture of what users are doing leading up to (or not completing) conversion
  • Custom metrics and dimensions: there’s real power in this area of GA4, which allows users to create their own measurements, and add richer data to events that can help with analysis and optimisation down the line (e.g. tracking the number of phone calls generated, or being able to see revenue broken down by different payment methods rather than as a total)
  • There’s a ‘Explore’ tab which gives users the freedom to build their own exploratory reports really quickly, and share them (although the date range is somewhat limiting)
  • It’s possible to change most of the navigation in the main interface to only include the reports you’re interested in, or group things in a way that makes sense to you and your workflows
  • Cross-device tracking: when setting up a property you get to add sections for the web/Android/iOS ‘streams’. If you have users logging in on the web and apps, then it’s possible to set up GA4 to track those users and understand the size of the overlap.

Move to GA4 now!

GA4 is here already, and pretty soon unless you opt for a different web analytics tool entirely, you’re going to want to get cracking on this right away (last year, ideally). That is unless you don’t want to know how your website is performing (outside of the sales etc. you can see in other tools/as they come through).

We love analysis so strongly recommend all users take advantage of updating to GA4 as soon as possible — no doubt you know your business inside out but there are always things that we can only know by looking at data in detail, and GA4 is one of those tools that can help with that. Also, there is nothing more satisfying than identifying a trend, problem or opportunity and responding to it in a way that makes things work better, ultimately benefiting your business.

If you’re interested in getting some help migrating to GA4 then drop us a line!

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