Google Analytics 4 Data Streams Replace UA Views

Google Analytics 4

There are many differences between Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics.

You may have noticed, for example, that there are no “views” in GA4.

They were roughly replaced by “data streams.” Google defines these as “a flow of data from a customer touchpoint (e.g., app, website) to Analytics.”

While Google cautions in its official documentation that Views and Data Streams are not the same thing, they are a close parallel.

Here’s everything you need to know about how web and app data is now tracked within the same Google Analytics 4 property.


Content

  1. Google Analytics 4 Data Streams vs. Universal Analytics Views
  2. How To Create a GA4 Data Stream
    1. Add Web Data Stream
    2. Add iOS App Data Stream
    3. Add Android App Data Stream
  3. Filter Reports by Data Stream GA4
    1. In the Reports Tab
    2. In the Explore Tab
  4. GA4 Data Streams Limit
  5. Data Stream Permissions
  6. Delete a Data Stream
    1. What happens if you delete a data stream?

Google Analytics 4 Data Streams vs. Universal Analytics Views

The main difference between Google Analytics 4 data streams and Universal Analytics views are their names.

Having multiple data streams in the same GA4 property allows you to holistically analyze your audience across platforms.

You no longer have to switch back and forth between properties to see data for your website and your app(s), respectively.

Here’s a comparison of GA4 account structure vs. Universal Analytics account structure:

Google Analytics 4 Account Property View Data Stream Structure

The Google Analytics 4 structure is Organization* > Account > Property > Data Stream

(Notice the empty “Views” column for GA4 properties.)

Google Analytics 4 Account Structure

The Universal Analytics structure is Organization* > Account > Property > Views

Universal Analytics Account Structure

*The organization level is optional.

Google says treating Data Streams like views to separate data “limits your ability to tie users across data streams, since each stream is a separate collection source of data.” In other words, the same user may be counted more than once, depending on how your site’s set up.


How To Create a GA4 Data Stream

1. Go to Admin

2. Click Data Streams in the Property Column

3. Click the blue “Add stream” button

4. Select your stream type: iOS app, Android app or Web

From here, things fork off depending on the kind of stream you’re setting up.


Add Web Data Stream

5. Enter your Website URL

6. Enter your Stream name

7. Enhanced measurement events are turned on by default. Leave them that way unless you have an exceptional reason to turn them off.

8. Click “Create stream”

In order for your web data stream to be functional, you must have the universal site tag on your site or publish a GA4 Configuration tag in your GTM container.


Add iOS App Data Stream

Starting in Google Analytics 4

(Continued from steps 1–4 above)

5. Register your app by filling in your iOS bundle ID, app name and app store ID and click Next

6. Wait while Google configures your settings in the next step. When finished, you’ll see four green checkmarks next to each of the options. Then click Next

7. Download the GoogleService-Info.plist file and move it into the root of your Xcode project and add it to all targets and click Next

8. Add the Firebase SDK and click Next

9. Add the initialization code Google provides to your main AppDelegate class and click Next

10. Run your app to verify installation. Once verified, click Finish

You should then see a screen that looks like this:

Google Analytics 4 iOS App Stream Details

Starting in Firebase

  1. Open your Firebase project
  2. Go to Project settings and click Integrations
  3. Click “Link” on the Google Analytics card
  4. Create a new Analytics account, or select an existing one

Add Android App Data Stream

Starting in Google Analytics 4

5. Enter your package name from applicationId in your app-level build.gradle file and enter your app name, then click Register app

6. Wait while Google configures your settings in the next step. When finished, you’ll see four green checkmarks next to each of the options. Then click Next

7. Download the google-services.json file and move it into your Android app module root directory. Then click Next

8. Add the Firebase SDK provided by Google. When finished, press “Sync now” in the IDE. Then click Next

9. Run your app to verify installation. Once verified, click Finish

Starting in Firebase

Same as above for iOS


Filter Reports by Data Stream in GA4

If you have multiple data streams in GA4, you may want to analyze them separate from each other, or even side by side.

(If you only have one data stream, you don’t need to worry about this.)


In the Reports Tab

To analyze data for a single data stream, use the “Add comparison” option in any of the reports.

1. Click the Add comparison button

2. Select Stream ID under the Device category in the first dropdown menu

3. Check off the dimension(s) you want to analyze

Google Analytics 4 Filter by Data Stream

If you want to analyze your web data stream by itself, click the web option and click OK. Then X out the “All Users” comparison at the top of the page to restrict the chart and rows to data related to your web stream.

If you want to analyze your iOS and Android app data together – not side by side – check them both off.

Google Analytics 4 Analyze App Data Streams Together

In the Explore Tab

1. Add “Stream name”* as a Dimensions option
You can also add “Stream ID,” but I prefer Stream name

2. Add your desired metric(s) options

3. In Tab Settings, add the Stream name dimension to Rows or Columns

4. Add your desired metric(s) to Values in Tab settings

Google Analytics 4 by Data Stream Explore

This will show you data for all data streams.

To see data for a particular data stream, use the filter at the bottom to include or exclude particular sources.

Google Analytics 4 by Data Stream Explore Filter

GA4 Data Streams Limit

Each Google Analytics 4 property can have up to 50 data streams.

There’s no limit to web streams, but only 30 of those can be app streams.


Data Stream Permissions

You cannot give permissions on a per-data-stream basis.

Since data streams are contained in properties, every user who has permission to a particular property has access to every data stream within that property.

You can also give access at the organization or account level. The user will then have access to every level below their access.

For example, if you give a user permissions for a particular account, they will have access to that account as well as all the properties and data streams within the account. They will not, however, have access to the parent organization.


Delete a Data Stream

1. Go to Admin

2. Click Data Streams in the Property column

3. Click the data stream you want to delete

4. Click the three vertical dots in the top-right portion of the window that popped out

Google Analytics 4 Delete Data Stream

5. Click “Delete stream”

What happens if you delete a data stream?

Google will continue to store its historical data. That data will no longer be processed, though.

It will no longer be available to use in report filters, either.


Also see:

Google Analytics 4 Traffic by City, State

Google Analytics 4

Google Analytics 4 provides information on the city and state from which users are visiting your website.

Let’s say you run a hyperlocal news website in Santa Monica, Calif., that sells subscriptions. You’ll probably want to focus on readers who live in or near your coverage area. Even if you get visits from other parts of the country/world, they’re not as likely to pay for your news.

Or perhaps you’re an online store that also has a brick-and-mortar in Santa Monica. If sales tend to be higher in person than online, you’re going to want to reach users who are closest to your store.

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But before doing a deep analysis, you need to know how many users are visiting your site from Santa Monica, and other relevant nearby areas. Then you can drill down even further to figure out how to draw them to your website and store to make purchases.

Here’s how to analyze traffic by city and region/state in Google Analytics 4.


Contents

  1. Google Analytics 4 Traffic by City, State: Summary

2. Google Analytics 4 Traffic by City, State: Detailed Explanation


Google Analytics 4 Traffic by City, State: Summary

Go to Reports > Users > Demographics overview and click on “View countries.”

Add a comparison specifying the city and/or state by which you want to filter your data.

Add a secondary dimension in the table to further filter and organize your data.

Also Read: How To Install Google Analytics 4

Google Analytics 4 Traffic by City, State: Detailed Explanation

Go to Reports > Users > Demographics overview.

By default, the first widget you will see on this dashboard sorts traffic by country. This can be useful if you’re an international publication or have clients all over the world. Otherwise, you’ll want a more detailed look at your readers’ locations.

Google Analytics 4 Demographics overview dashboard

Click on “View countries,” and you’ll be brought to a Demographic details report page.


Note: Google Analytics 4 provides user location data based on the location of the user’s IP address on their particular device. This does not necessarily show you where people live – GA4 doesn’t provide that data – but rather where they were when they accessed your site.

GA4 Traffic by State

1. Click Add comparison, which will initiate the Build comparison pop-out you see on the right in the screenshot above.

2. Under “Include,” select region, which is the equivalent of “State” in the United States, as well as most other countries.

3. Click the Dimension values dropdown, where you will see a list of all the states (regions) from which your site has received traffic in the specified time range. If there are a lot of options, you may be better off typing the state name and selecting it instead of scrolling through the entire list.

You can select multiple states if you wish.

4. Once you have selected the desired state, click OK, then the Apply button, which will now turn blue, at the bottom right.

You will now see a side-by-site comparison of All Users and California (or whatever state(s) you selected) users, side-by-side.

Google Analytics 4 Demographics Traffic Comparison All Users California

Again, if you don’t have a lot of international readers or customers, you may not be interested in analyzing traffic from “All Users.” Simply click the X next to the All Users comparison at the top, and you’ll be left with only the users in the states you selected.

Google Analytics 4 Demographics Traffic Comparison California

GA4 Traffic by City

Now that you have filtered traffic by a single (or few) state(s), you’re ready to drill down by city.

If you’re interested in analyzing traffic from just one particular city, or a small number of cities, you could use the same process as above for states, except you would include “City” in the first dropdown instead of “Region.”

But perhaps you want to see a list of all the cities in a specific region from which users and sessions come to your website. In that case, we’re going to pick up where we left off, filtering traffic only by California users.

Scroll down to the table, and you’ll see that there’s only one row of data for United States users. Click the dropdown where it says “Country” and change to “Region.”

We’ll still only see readers from California, but now it’s more clear instead of saying “United States.”

If you’re only filtering traffic by one region, this step isn’t necessary and you can change the dropdown to “City” instead of “Region.” I’m including this step here in case you want to filter by multiple states, and therefore see which cities correspond to which states.

Click the + symbol next to Region in the dropdown menu you just changed, and you’ll see a similar dropdown. Select “City.” I also like to expand the visible rows to more than 10, which allows you to see a large list of data without having to click through the list 10 at a time.

Here’s what that would look like if you added a second state, as I have now with Arizona, to make it easier to know which city corresponds to which state:

Now you can see just how many users and sessions come to your website from a particular city and state.

Is there another way you would like to analyze your data geographically? Let me know in the comments.


Also read: How To Create a Google Analytics 4 Landing Page Report

Google Analytics 4 Session: What is it?

Google Analytics 4

A Google Analytics 4 session is counted every time someone visits your site or app. This is how sessions are initiated:

  • App: A user opens your app on their phone in the foreground
  • Website: A user views a page on your website

Let’s take a look at how the GA4 session timer stops and starts, how you can change it, and the difference between a regular session and an engaged session.


Content

  1. How are GA4 sessions counted?
    1. ga_session_id Parameter
    2. ga_session_number Parameter
  2. When does the Google Analytics 4 session timer reset?
  3. How To Change Google Analytics 4 Session Timeout Limit
    1. Change in App Stream
    2. Change in Web Stream
  4. What is an engaged session in GA4?
    1. Bounce Rate vs. Engaged Sessions in GA4
    2. How do you calculate bounce rate in Google Analytics 4?

How are GA4 sessions counted?

When a user comes to your site, they are assigned a session ID and a session number. These are parameters that go with the session_start event, which is automatically included in your GA4 dashboard.

(In order to access these this information in your Explore reports, you must create a custom dimension for each one.)

ga_session_id Parameter

A session ID, identified by the ga_session_id parameter, is generated each time a user comes to your site. If the same user comes to your site, leaves, and comes back to initiate a new session, two different session IDs are generated.

The same user can have multiple session IDs, because each new session generates a new ID, regardless of the user.

ga_session_number Parameter

The session number, identified by the ga_session_number parameter, counts the different number of sessions generated by each user.


Here’s a simplified example of how the session_start event and its ga_session_id and ga_session_number parameters are structured:

Google Analytics 4 session_start event and ga_session_id and ga_session_number parameters visual example
Note: The ga_session_id numbers here are made up to simplify this graphic.

When does the Google Analytics 4 session timer reset?

Google’s default timer ends sessions after 30 minutes of inactivity.

How to change your GA4 session timer

Let’s say someone opens your app on their phone so that it is in the foreground. That person has initiated a session. (This example applies to visitors to your website, too.)

They spend one minute on your app (or website) before checking their email, opening a social media app, sending a WhatsApp message, and setting their phone down to charge.

An hour later, they pick up their phone and access your app (or website) again. Is this considered a new session in Google Analytics 4?

Yes, even though your app (or app) was running in the background. After 30 minutes of your app (website) not being in the foreground, the user’s initial session ended.

But just because there’s a 30-minute inactivity limit before a new session is initiated, it does not mean that the user’s initial session was 31 minutes.

Since the user was inactive for 30 minutes, their active session timer will have been paused at the beginning of those 30 minutes.

Google Analytics 4 session timer example
An example of how Google Analytics 4 session timers work.

How To Change Google Analytics 4 Session Timeout Limit

If you prefer a different timeout limit than 30 minutes, here’s how to change it:

Change in App Stream

Use the setSessionTimeoutDuration method and specify your desired limit down to the millisecond*

*In fact, the default is not actually 30 minutes, but rather 1,800,000 milliseconds, which is equal to 30 minutes.

Change in Web Stream

  1. Go to Admin
  2. Click Data Streams
  3. Click your web data stream
  4. Scroll down and click More Tagging Settings, which is the last option under Additional Settings
  5. Click Adjust session timeout
  6. Choose how long your want your session timeouts to last in minutes and hours
    (You can also change your timer limit for engaged sessions)
Google Analytics 4 changes session timeout length

What is an engaged session in GA4?

Wondering what the difference is between a regular session and an engaged session in Google Analytics 4? An engaged session must meet one of three requirements:

  1. The session must last at least 10 seconds (or 10,000 milliseconds) AND/OR
  2. One or more conversion event was completed AND/OR
  3. The user viewed two or more screens (app) or pages (web)
Google Analytics 4 engagement dashboard featuring session stats

You can change the minimum session duration to activate an engaged session. Follow the steps in the previous section to do so.

Bounce Rate vs. Engaged Sessions in GA4

In GA4, bounce rate is not calculated the same way as it was in UA. Bounce rate and engagement rate are now inversions of each other.

In most cases, your goal should be to have a low bounce rate and a high percentage of engaged sessions.

How do you calculate bounce rate in Google Analytics 4?

Google Analytics 4 bounce rate was added July 11, 2022. It’s the inverse of engagement rate.

That means your bounce rate in GA4 is 100 minus your engaged sessions percentage.

e.g. If your engaged sessions percentage is 50%: 100 – 50 = 50% bounce rate.

Non-engaged sessions are any GA4 sessions that last less than 10 seconds and don’t include a conversion event nor multiple pages/screens.


Also read:

GA4 Conversions Event Dashboard Demo Account

Google Analytics 4 Conversions Replace UA Goals

Google Analytics 4

How do you create goals in Google Analytics 4? Technically, you don’t.

What we know as Goals in Universal Analytics are Conversions – or Conversion Events – in Google Analytics 4. But don’t worry – they’re basically the same thing, and in my opinion, easier to set up in GA4 than in UA.

Contents

  1. How to Set Up Google Analytics 4 Conversions
  2. How to Create Events in Google Analytics 4
  3. Google Analytics 4 Recommended Conversion Events
  4. How Many Conversions Can I Have in GA4?
  5. How Do I Turn Off Conversions in GA4?
  6. Are Google Analytics 4 Conversions Retroactive?
  7. Key Difference Between UA Goals and GA4 Conversions
Get help setting up your GA4 property.

How to Set Up Google Analytics 4 Conversions

Conversions are created in Google Analytics 4 simply by marking an existing event as a conversion.

  1. Go to the Configure tab on the left side of the screen in the GA4 dashboard
  2. Click the Events option
  3. In the right column of your list of events, you can change any of them to a conversion with a simple click, moving the toggle from the left to the right, changing the color from gray to blue in the “Mark as conversion” column
Google Analytics 4 mark as conversion

You can also “pre-create” events from the Configure tab.

  1. Instead of clicking Events on the left, click the second option, Conversions
  2. Once on the Conversions screen, click the blue “New conversion event” button
  3. Name your Conversion (it can have up to 40 characters) and click the blue Save button
GA4 Pre-Create Conversion Event

Following these steps does not create a Conversion in and of itself. But when you create an Event in the future by the exact same name as step 3 directly above, that Event will be marked as a Conversion from the moment it collects data, and you won’t have to go into the Events screen and mark it as such as outlined in the beginning of this section.


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How to Create Events in Google Analytics 4

Here are the full details on how to create an event in GA4. Otherwise, here’s a quick summary of the three ways to do so:

In Google Tag Manager

The process is similar to the way you do this for Universal Analytics. But instead of selecting the “Google Analytics: Universal Analytics” tag type, you would select “Google Analytics: GA4 Event.”

Choose Tag Type Google Tag Manager GA4 UA

From there you can create a tag that will feed an event into your GA4 dashboard. You can then mark that event as a conversion, just as you would for the following two options.

By placing code on your site

If you’re using the global site tag and not Google Tag Manager, you can use the event command to send data. Here’s what a sample piece of code would look like:

gtag('event', 'login', {
  'method': 'Google'
});

Within the GA4 dashboard itself

Something you can do in GA4 that isn’t available in UA is create events directly from the Google Analytics dashboard. You do this by going to Configure > Events and clicking the blue Create Event button.

From there, you would use data from existing events to create a new one. Here is an example of how you could create a “purchase” event based on the user landing on yoursite.com/thankyou after a confirmed transaction:

Google Analytics 4 Create Purchase Event from Dashboard Example

Notice that the Event is trigged when the Event “page_view” fires and the “page_location” parameter for that event is equal to /thankyou.

In order to make sure this Conversion – or any Conversion – only fires when an actual conversion occurs, make sure that all the criteria for the event can only be true when that Conversion fires. Otherwise, you’ll be counting unrelated actions as Conversions as well.

That’s why using page_location equal /thankyou is so helpful here. There can only be one page on your site with that location, and if users are only directed there after making a purchase and it’s not otherwise in your site navigation, you can be sure that a “purchase” has occurred with near-100 percent certainty*.

*Of course there is always the very unlikely possibility that someone reaches that page on your site by typing it directly into their browser navigation bar


Google doesn’t so much “recommend” conversion events as it does include five of them – one for both web and app and four for app only – by default:

  • purchase (web and app)
  • first_open (app only)
  • in_app_purchase (app only)
  • app_store_subscription_convert (app only)
  • app_store_subscription_renew (app only)

That being the case, you still have to “tell” Google Analytics what constitutes each of these events. In other words, you have to create Events with the same names you see in the aforementioned list. Google does not begin collecting data for Events with these names as soon as you install Google Analytics 4.

For example, in a web data stream, if you look at the default list of events upon setup, you’ll see that “purchase” does not appear. Again, you have to define for Google what a purchase is by creating a “purchase” event. Same for the other four default events listed above.

The way you can tell these are pre-created as Conversions by GA4 is by going into your Conversions tab, where you’ll see “purchase” already listed as a Conversion Event, should you create a “purchase” event in the future. You’ll also notice that it is “locked” as a Conversion. That is, you cannot toggle the “Mark as conversion” lever from right to left, thereby making “purchase” a non-conversion Event:

GA4 Conversions Dashboard Purchase Event

How Many Conversions Can I Have in a GA4 property?

In addition to the five default Conversion Events that Google “pre-creates” for you, you can include up to 30 additional Conversions in each Google Analytics 4 property.

When you count the five default Conversions that Google includes in your dashboard, you can actually have a total of 35 conversion events for your app(s) and 31 for web data streams.

If you run up against that limit, consider paring down your conversions to only the most important ones. This will also make your reporting much easier since you won’t be tracking as many KPIs. It may also help you to focus on what’s most important to your business.


How Do I Turn Off Conversions in GA4?

You turn off conversions the same way you turn them on, but you reverse the final step.

  1. Go to the Configure tab on the left side of the screen in the GA4 dashboard
  2. Click the Events option
  3. In the right column of your list of events, click any that are marked as a conversion so that the toggled goes from right to left and changes from blue to gray

Are Google Analytics 4 Conversions Retroactive?

No. Google begins collecting data on Conversions from the moment they’re created, but it does not affect historic data.


Key Difference Between UA Goals and GA4 Conversions

In Universal Analytics, each conversion (known as a goal), is only counted once per session, even if the user completes the conversion (goal) multiple times in the same session.

In Google Analytics 4, however, conversions are counted as many times as they occur within the same session.

If you have conversion events on your site that can logically be completed multiple times within the same session, you should expect your GA4 conversions count to be significantly higher than your UA goals count for that particular user action.

Exception: Note that although “purchase” is a conversion event in GA4, Google says that purchase counts should closely match between the two properties since UA also uses “purchase” events within the ecommerce model.


Also Read: Google Analytics 4 FAQs

Get Help with Google Analytics 4

Google Analytics 4

Do you need help installing Google Analytics 4? Or perhaps you want to set up some GA4 events and parameters but aren’t sure how.

If so, you have come to the right place.

Image: blog.google.com

I have years of experience working on Google Analytics and have transitioned dozens of websites from Universal Analytics to GA4. From out-of-the-box, minimal setup to complicated event tracking, I can help you start collecting data ahead of the July 1, 2023 hard transition from UA to GA4.


If you’re looking for help with something that’s not Google Analytics 4-related, or would like to contact me about another topic, use the form on this page.


Set up an obligation-free consultation:

I need help with:


Here are some things I’ll need if we work together:

  • Google Analytics 4: “Editor” access
  • Google Universal Analytics: “Editor” access
  • Full list:
    • All websites and/or apps (please indicate any apps and websites that go together)
    • Any conversions you want to track on your website/app (e.g. sales, sign-ups) and where they are located (URL/content type, location on page/screen)
    • Your business KPIs
    • Any custom events and parameters you want to create
  • I may also need access to other platforms such as BigQuery, or your email service provider, depending on what you want to track

*If you don’t have Google Tag Manager, I’ll help you create an account and install it on your website(s)

Here’s a video I recorded for the AP as an introduction to Google Analytics 4 for journalists, though I think anyone who wants to get to know the platform will find this useful.

Google Analytics 4 Landing Page Report

Google Analytics 4

A landing page is the first place – aka unique URL – a user visits when coming to your site.

Sometimes “landing page” is used an industry term to refer to a page created with a specific purpose, such as to sell subscriptions to a news website or sign up for a newsletter.

Other times, as is the case in this article, the term “landing page” simply refers to the page on which a user “landed” upon entering your site. That could be your homepage, an article, a product or anywhere else on your particular domain.

Understanding why users enter your site on a particular page – and their behavior thereafter – is important to optimizing your content.


Content

  1. How To Create a Google Analytics 4 Landing Page Report: Summary
  2. How To Create a Google Analytics 4 Landing Page Report: Detailed Explanation
  3. Should I use Page Title, Page Location or Page Path + Query String Dimension?

How To Create a Google Analytics 4 Landing Page Report: Summary

In the Google Analytics 4 Explore tab, create a free form report with the following settings:

  • Segment Comparisons: Landing page
  • Rows: Page Title
  • Values: Sessions

How To Create a Google Analytics 4 Landing Page Report: Detailed Explanation

1. Click the Explore tab on the left sidebar.

Google Analytics 4 Explore tab popout

2. Choose “Blank” from the template gallery.

Google Analytics 4 Exploration templates

3. Click the + symbol next to SEGMENTS.

Google Analytics 4 Exploration page select SEGMENTS

4. Select the Session segment option.

Google Analytics 4 add segment options: select Session segment

5. Click the “Add new condition” dropdown and type “landing page.” Select the only option that pops up. (You can also find this by clicking on “Page / screen” and scrolling down to Landing page. It’s the same thing.)

6. Click the + symbol next to DIMENSIONS.

Google Analytics 4 Exploration add new dimension

7. Type “page” in the search bar and select the following to import to your variables tab: Page Location; Page path + query string; Page title.

Google Analytics 4 select dimensions "page" search

You might not necessarily use all of these in your report, but now that they’re added to your Variables column, you have the option to do so.

8. Now click the + symbol next to METRICS (just below DIMENSIONS) and import the following to your Variables tab: Engaged sessions; Sessions; Active users; New users; Total users.

You can select more, less, or different metrics if you prefer. These are simply ones that I believe to be the most common and useful. As you begin to tweak your base Google Analytics 4 landing pages report, you’ll get a better sense of which metrics (and dimensions) you want to include.

Your dashboard should now look like this (perhaps with a different date range):

Google Analytics 4 Landing Page report setup

9. Double-click the segment you added, or simply click and drag it under SEGMENT COMPARISONS in the Tab Settings column.

10. Next, add one or more of your dimensions to ROWS (I prefer Page title), and add one or more metrics to VALUES (Sessions).

11. Here’s how your completed landing page report should look barring and changes to my recommendations*:

*The only thing not visible in the Tab Settings column of this screenshot is the Session Scoped: Landing Page segment

Google Analytics 4 Landing Page Report Basic Completed

Your report will autosave as you go, so once you finish, you can access (and edit) it at anytime by going to the main Explore page. Mine is titled “Landing Page Report” in the following screenshot:

Google Analytics 4 explore page with saved report

Should I use Page Title, Page Location or Page Path + Query String Dimension?

By using Page title instead of Page location or Page path + query string for dimension, we avoid dividing data from traffic that actually went to the same page.

Because of the / after the URL that used to be in some of my pages, GA4 saw them as different pages:

Google Analytics 4 Exploration page location and path query string

But when I filter by Page title, all traffic to my “Meet Brad” and “Contact” pages, respectively, are consolidated into a single row.

Confusion can still arise, however, if you change your page title format, as I did when changing my website’s CMS:

In the long run, though, I believe Page title is the best option.


Also see:

Google Analytics 4 FAQs

Google Analytics 4

Here are some common questions regarding Google Analytics 4. It will permanently replace Universal Analytics on July 1, 2023.


Contents

  1. When was Google Analytics 4 released?
  2. When does Universal Analytics go away for good?
  3. Should I upgrade to Google Analytics 4?
  4. How does Google Analytics 4 work?
  5. Does Google Analytics 4 store IP addresses?
  6. Is Google Analytics 4 free?
  7. Does Google Analytics 4 use cookies?

When was Google Analytics 4 released?

Google Analytics 4 has been the default Google Analytics property since Oct. 14, 2020. All new GA properties are now GA4 by default. You can no longer solely create a Universal Analytics (sometimes referred to as GA3) property.


When does Universal Analytics go away for good?

From Google’s Help Center:

On July 1, 2023, standard Universal Analytics properties will no longer process data. You’ll be able to see your Universal Analytics reports for a period of time after July 1, 2023. However, new data will only flow into Google Analytics 4 properties.

Google Analytics 360 properties will receive a one-time processing extension ending on October 1, 2023


Should I upgrade to Google Analytics 4?

Yes, you should upgrade as soon as possible. Since you can’t migrate Universal Analytics data, you will only have numbers as far back as your GA4 property creation date.

How do you set up Google Analytics 4? Follow my step-by-step guide to get started.


How does Google Analytics 4 work?

You may be wondering, “What is the difference between Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics?

From Google’s help center:

Analytics creates a single user journey from all the data that is associated with the same user ID. Unlike Universal Analytics, a Google Analytics 4 property incorporates User ID natively across all reporting, analysis and insights and does not require a separate User-ID reporting view.

A key feature of GA4 is that each property can contain multiple data streams. This is also known as Web + App properties.

Data Streams in GA4 are like Views in Universal Analytics.

The Data Streams dashboard in a Google Analytics 4 property

For example, if you have a website, an iOS app and an Android app, these would be three separate UA properties. But in Google Analytics 4, you’ll have one property with three data streams: Web, iOS and Android.

Another important aspect of GA4 is that it’s event-based. While Events are part of the Behavior dashboard in Universal Analytics, they are the heart and soul of GA4 data.

Anything that occurs on your site can be tracked as an event, with parameters attached to that event.

A page view, for instance, is an event. “page_view” is a default event in GA4. Tracking something like newsletter signups, though, would require a custom event.

Anything that occurs on your site can be tracked as an event, with parameters attached to that event.

In Universal Analytics, you can only utilize the four default parameters to go with events. But in GA4, there are five default parameters, and you can add up to 25 more customized parameters. These are the five default parameters in GA4:

  • language
  • page_location
  • page_referrer
  • page_title
  • screen_resolution

Does Google Analytics 4 store IP addresses?

As an enhanced user-privacy measure, Google Analytics 4 does not store IP addresses by default. This cannot be changed. (It was the opposite in Universal Analytics.)

Additionally, IP addresses are “never written to disk.”


Is Google Analytics 4 free?

Yes, Google Analytics 4 is free to set up and use.

You can pay to upgrade to Google Analytics 360 and increase data collection limits. In many cases, especially for smaller organizations, it’s not necessary to upgrade.


Does Google Analytics 4 use cookies?

From Google’s help center (emphasis mine):

The gtag.js JavaScript library uses first-party cookies to distinguish unique users as well as unique sessions from a single user. The library does not require you to set cookies to transmit data to Google Analytics. To learn how to customize the default settings, see Cookies and user identification.

You do not need cookies to collect data in Google Analytics 4.


Live Google Analytics 4 Demo: This is a training I did for the AP. I believe anyone wants to get to know the platform will find this useful.


Do you have other questions about Google Analytics 4? Share them in the comments and I’ll add them to the article.

Google Analytics 4 Setup

Google Analytics 4

To install Google Analytics 4, all you need is a Google account with which to sign in. If you use Gmail or YouTube, you can use that email address to log in to Google Analytics 4.

To make things more practical, we’re going to pretend we’re connecting GA4 to a website called Acme Newspaper Company at acmenewspaper.com, which is not a real website at the time of writing this post.

Google Analytics 4 transition help Brad Gerick
Contact me if you need help setting up Google Analytics 4.

Contents:

1. Getting Started with GA4

  • Create a Google Account
  • Sign In To Google Analytics

2. Create a Google Analytics 4 Property

  • Install from Scratch
  • Install from Existing Universal Analytics Account

3. Create Google Analytics 4 Data Streams

  • Create a Web Stream
  • Create an iOS App Stream
  • Create an Android App Stream

4. Install Google Analytics 4

  • Install with Global Site Tag
  • Install with Google Tag Manager

Getting Started

If you already have a Google Analytics account, click here to skip ahead.

Create a Google Account

If you don’t already have a Google account, or would like to create a new one, you can go to the Create your Google Account page.

Sign In To Google Analytics 4

Once you have identified or created the account you’re going to use, go to the Google Analytics 4 website and sign in.


Create a Google Analytics 4 Property

Install from Scratch

When you sign in, if you don’t already have a GA4 account, you will see a page that looks like this:

Click the blue “Start measuring” button to proceed.

On the following page, you will need to complete the following steps:

1. Choose an account name. This should be something concise and closely or exactly match the name of your website.

Example Account Name: Acme Newspaper Company

Review the account data sharing settings – Google products & services, Benchmarking, Technical support, Account specialists – check or uncheck the boxes you desire, and click the blue next button.

2. Property setup. Choose a property name, country, time zone and currency. Don’t be concerned about choosing currency if you won’t run an ecommerce website. Select it anyway and proceed.

Example Property Name: Acme Newspaper

Note: It is possible that your account name and property name are the same, though they don’t have to be. For reference, here is how the account and property name, respectively, appear in the Google Analytics 4 demo account:

A screenshot of the Google Analytics 4 demo account and property name

3. About your business. Again, if you don’t own a business and your website is used for another purpose, don’t get caught up in the terminology. Select your industry category, business size, and share how you plan to use Google Analytics.

The exact accuracy of this information isn’t crucial to using GA4, but in theory it helps Google better tailor your analytics experience.

When you finish, click the blue Create button.

You will not be prompted to review and accept the terms of service agreement and set your email communications preferences.


Install from Existing Universal Analytics Account

Sign in to Google Analytics Universal as you usually do. Go to Admin and in the Property column, click “GA4 Setup Assistant.”

You’ll be brought to this screen. Click the blue “Get Started” button.

You will then see this popup. Click “Create property.”


If you have followed all the steps above up to this point – either from scratch or using the GA4 setup wizard via Universal Analytics – you should now see this page:


Create Google Analytics 4 Data Streams

Create a Web Stream

Either via the setup assistant or the creation of a new property from scratch, you should arrive at the page seen in the previous screenshot. If not, go to Admin and click Data Streams in the property column.

To setup GA4 tracking for your website, choose Web under “Choose a platform” and enter your website name and stream name. If you only have a website with no plans for an app, you can simply enter the name of your website. This could be the same as your property name.

If you also have an app, or might have one in the future, it would be a good idea to name you stream “[website name] Web”.

Example: Acme Newspaper Web

I also recommend enabling Enhanced measurement events (they are enabled by default).

When you finish, click “Create stream” and you have your web stream set up.

Create an iOS App Stream

Click the “iOS app” button and follow the six steps to set up your mobile app stream through Firebase.

“To enable Google Analytics for an existing Firebase project, go to Firebase instead.”

Example Stream Name: Acme Newspaper iOS

Create an Android App Stream

Click the “Android app” button and follow the five steps to set up your mobile app stream through Firebase.

“To enable Google Analytics for an existing Firebase project, go to Firebase instead.”

Example Stream Name: Acme Newspaper Android


Install Google Analytics 4

Go to Admin and click on Data Streams in the Property column. Click on your Web data stream.

You have two different options to install Google Analytics 4 on your site: 1) the global site tag (gtag.js) or 2) the Google Tag Manager GA4 Configuration tag.

Install with Global Site Tag

GTAG: Install from Scratch

Under “Add new on-page tag,” click “Global site tag (gtag.js)”.

“Copy the global site tag into the <head> section of your HTML.” This is the global site tag:

<!– Global site tag (gtag.js) – Google Analytics –>
https://www.googletagmanager.com/gtag/js?id=G-XXXXXXXXXX
<script>
window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || [];
function gtag(){dataLayer.push(arguments);}
gtag(‘js’, new Date());

gtag(‘config’, ‘G-XXXXXXXXXX’);
</script>

Where you see “G-XXXXXXXXXX” you’ll want to replace the Xs with your measurement ID, while will be included in the code if you copy directly from Google Analytics. Alternatively, you can find the code in the top right portion of the Web stream details popup as shown below.

If you use a website builder like Squarespace or WordPress, check and see if the specific instructions for your CMS are listed here. If so, follow them to complete installation.

GTAG: Install with Existing On-Page Tag

Go to Admin, then Tracking Info then Tracking Code.

Click Connected Site Tags under global site tag (gtag.js).

Connect your Measurement ID, which begins G- and is followed by 10 (or so) characters. This can be located in the top-right portion of the Web stream details as shown above.


Install with Google Tag Manager

To install with Google Tag Manager, you will need a GTM account. I recommend using the same log-in – instructions at the beginning of this post – to manage both GA4 and GTM.

Whether you previously installed Universal Analytics with GTM or are doing so for the first time with GA4, the process is the same.

Go to Google Tag Manger, and from the Overview page, click “Add a new tag.” (This can also be done by going to the Tags menu, below Overview, and clicking the “New” button once on that page.)

Click Tag Configuration and select the Google Analytics: GA4 Configuration tag.

Enter your measurement ID, which can be found in the Web stream details pop-up of Google Analytics and begins G-…. (See the screenshot further up in this post to see where it’s located.)

Then click in the triggering box and create/select a Page View tag that fires on all pages. Give the tag a title – I chose “GA4 Configuration” – and save your tag. When you’re finished, it should look like this:

You can confirm your tag is functioning properly by testing it in Google Tag Manager preview mode in conjunction with Google Analytics 4’s DebugView, found under the Configure menu.

When you’re on your website, the GTM preview mode dashboard should look like this. As you can see, my GA4 Configuration tag is listed under Tags Fired.

That’s it – you should now be collecting data in Google Analytics 4.

Do you have any tips I didn’t mention? Email me or share them in the comments.