Wrap Your Brain Around the Differences Between GA4 and the Old Google Analytics
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Wrap Your Brain Around the Differences Between GA4 and the Old Google Analytics
Kate Gingold
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Wrap Your Brain Around the Differences Between GA4 and the Old Google Analytics

Since GA4 measures how engaged your website visitors are in a more glass-half-full way than the old UA did, start by familiarizing yourself with the terms and philosophies.

Last time we talked about some of the common questions small business owners and not-for-profits are looking to answer in their Analytics reports. The point of studying these reports is so we can improve the customer experience on our websites so more visitors take us up on our Calls To Action. GA4 calls this Engagement and it is focused on showing us where users are engaged, how they engaged, and how long they stayed engaged.  

With this upbeat emphasis on Engagement, there are new metrics and labels in GA4 and they do not exactly coincide with what was reported in the old Universal Analytics (UA). There is no longer a “Bounce Rate” that says visitors immediately turned away from your site. Bounces always were a misleading metric since users would leave a page when they didn’t find what they were looking for as well as when they did find what they were looking for!

As an example, in the old Analytics, when someone clicked on the link to your blog post and then closed that window, your UA report would say that they “bounced,” a depressing bit of data that might make you decide to stop blogging. But maybe your visitor actually read the whole post before closing the window. It might be the start of their buyers’ journey and encourage you to blog more often.

UA wouldn’t tell you if they read your post, but GA4 does, because it measures engagement through incremental activities called “Events.” “Scrolling,” a thing people do when they are reading blog posts, is one of these measured Events. Events can include actions such as First-Visit, Page-View, Clicks, and Form-Submit., which are reported by default. You can also create your own Events to track action on your page not covered by Google’s default reports.

One specific Event that is reported on separately is Conversion. Google calls this an “action that’s important to the success of your business.” For instance, a user clicking on a link to watch your video is an Event, but a user clicking on a link to make a purchase or an appointment is a Conversion; it puts money in your pocket, which is important to your success.

One more term to know is “Session.” A Session is when a user interacts with your website. An Engaged Session (that positive spin again!) is when a Session lasts longer than 10 seconds, has a Conversion Event, or more than two page views.

Once you accept that your website’s goal is to engage visitors, it’s easy to understand the importance of the Events and Conversions reports and how to read them. You may even be inspired to modify your web pages to encourage more engagement!

Now that we are familiar with the philosophy of GA4 and the terms found in the report, next time we’ll take a look at what you see when you log in to your GA4 account. Remember, the old Google Analytics is no longer recording data, so if you don’t have GA4 on your website yet, you’re missing important information. Give us a call if you’re not sure or if you need help installing GA4 on your site.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

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Kate Gingold

Kate GingoldKate Gingold

I have been writing a blog with web marketing tips and techniques every other week since 2003. In addition to blogging and client content writing, I write books and a blog on local history.

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I have been writing a blog with web marketing tips and techniques every other week since 2003. In addition to blogging and client content writing, I write books and a blog on local history.

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