If you’re constantly monitoring recent industry news, GA3 or Universal Analytics is up for a major overhaul (or should we say sunset?). A quick trip down memory lane takes us to the time Google bought Urchin for tracking. Shortly after, “ga.js” materialized. However, this old version of Google Analytics doesn’t support eCommerce features. This paved the way for “analytics.js”. Universal Analytics has been around for so many years and it seems like it’s about to come to an end soon. App+Web properties have been around since 2019 and now, it was renamed GA4.
Many users would say that the release of the current GA4 is a bit premature. Features are lacking, naming conventions are changing frequently, and in general, analysts are just not ready for the transition yet. I’ve been using Universal Analytics for so many years and I have to admit, GA4 is quite hard to comprehend. While I have a lot of comments (and complaints!) about the GA4 interface, I’ll leave it for now.
Let’s dive deep into the most basic but slightly technical GA4 implementation.
Few things to keep in mind before we proceed:
- GA4 is event-based, not session-based like Universal Analytics.
- If you’re also using GA4 for your app, you have to make sure that your event names are mapped correctly so you avoid further confusion.
- There is no concept of “Views” in GA4, so you have to plan your account structure/s accordingly.
In this guide, we will use Google Tag Manager (GTM) to implement GA4 tracking. If you don’t have an account yet, I suggest you sign up. It will definitely make your life a lot easier! Let’s begin.
Step 1: Create a new GA4 Property
From the admin tab, create a new property. By default, new properties are now GA4 properties. Just follow the prompts to fill in all the details.
When you’re done with the prompts, you will end up on the data stream screen similar to the one below. This is where you will set up the data sources of GA4. For the purpose of this training, we’ll focus on the Web Stream only.
Step 2: Setup your data stream
Key in your data stream name and the website URL. Make sure enhanced measurement is turned on. This allows GA4 to automatically capture common engagements such as: Scrolls, outbound clicks, site search, video engagement, and file downloads.
Once this is done, hit save and voila! Half the battle is done. Save the measurement ID because we’ll use it when we implement the Google Tag Manager (GTM) tags later on.
Step 3: Go to Google Tag Manager
This is where the fun begins! We’ll now create tags in GTM that will activate GA4 tracking for your website. Setting the base GA4 tag in GTM is similar to how you would implement Universal Analytics. Let’s go!
Create your GA4 configuration tag. Go to Tag > Create a New Tag > Choose Google Analytics: GA4 Configuration
Put in the Measurement ID from the GA4 Data Stream in your new property. This will ensure that when the tag fires, the information is passed to the correct data stream.
If you want to track page view as an event, tick the checkbox below measurement ID. Save your tag and then add an All Pages trigger. After that, you’re done! Now it’s time to preview your setup just to be sure that it’s working.
Step 4: Preview your basic GA4 setup
Hit preview before you publish the tags to check if your tags are firing correctly in a test environment. If you see it firing, you’re all set. Publish it and “sing like no one’s listening!”