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The Basics of GA4

The Basics of GA4

Universal Analytics will be sunsetting on July 1, 2023. This means that on that date, Google will stop standard Universal Analytics properties from processing data. Your Universal Analytics reports will remain visible for a short period after the change but new data will only flow into GA4 properties. Since GA4 is a new platform completely separate from Universal Analytics, likely you will eventually no longer have access to the older data.

While this may seem a ways off, you will want to begin your migration process now to start collecting data in GA4 so that come July 1, 2023, you have historical data to report against, and as of January 1, 2024, you are able to do year-over-year analysis. During your transition, your GA4 property can run in parallel with your existing UA configuration, enabling the best of both worlds.

Let’s cover some basics so that you can familiarize yourself with GA4.

What’s the difference in Universal Analytics and GA4?

The most significant difference between the two versions is this –

Universal Analytics was session-based and used hit types such as page hits, event hits, and social interaction hits.

Google Analytics 4 is event-based; all hits like “pageview” are now events.

While this is a super simple explanation, that’s basically it.

How do I set up GA4 if I already have UA?

You can use the GA4 Setup Assistant. This will not make any changes to your current UA property and it will continue to collect data as it has been. Once you set up GA4 both properties will be available to you using the property selector in the admin. It is important to know that your new GA4 property will not be filled with historical data.

You can find help with using the Setup Wizard here.

How is GA4 reporting different from Universal Analytics?

The new analytics has much fewer standard reports. In the older version of analytics there were 30 standard reports. GA4 contains only 3. To get certain information that you were used to for example, the Source/Medium report or the Landing Page report, you will have to create new “custom” reports. More on that soon.

Where can I find more resources on GA4?

One of my favorite resources is Krista Seiden. Her insight is invaluable in that her background includes being part of the Google analytics team. Check out her blog and other services at