GA4 FAQ: common questions

GA4 FAQs

Google Analytics is changing. Google Analytics 4 (GA4) will be the only platform that processes data beginning in the middle of 2023 . If you have been struggling to wrap your head around GA4 and all of its new features, below is a list of commonly asked questions surrounding the new property type. Feel free to add any questions you may personally have about the new platform below this blog.

When does GA4 replace UA?

On 16th March 2022, Google announced that it will sunset Universal Analytics July 1st, 2023. Enterprise users who have a paid version of GA360 may be able to process new hits in UA for slightly longer, but for the rest of us there will be no more data processed in our Universal Analytics properties starting on that date.

GA4 will replace Universal Analytics (UA) as the default and only measurement by Google for digital analytics measurement in GA.

What is GA4?

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is now officially the recommended property type of Google Analytics and will become the only option beginning July 1, 2023. It’s data model is built on events as opposed to sessions and pageviews as its predecessor (UA) is.

It used to be called the ‘App+Web Property’ when it was first added in beta. Why App+Web? Well, the new property can track both App and Web visits in a single Google Analytics property instead of having those differing platform visits separated into different GA properties.

There are some features that people seem to really like about GA4. There are also some things that appear to be less desirable about GA4 compared to UA (at least, according to our experience). If you’re serious about dedicating time to learning about GA4, you may consider subscribing to the Root and Branch YouTube channel and turning on notifications. There are plenty of tutorials and walkthroughs and there is typically a new video each week.

What version of Google Analytics am I running?

You can log in to your Google Analytics account at analytics.google.com. Click on “All Accounts” in the top left hand corner to see a list of all accounts and properties you have access to. The new GA4 property type looks different than the legacy UA property type. See below.

This is What GA4 Looks Like

The first screen you’ll land on is called “Reports snapshot”. Note the left hand navigation with report names like “Life cycle” and “User”

ga4 home screen

This is What Universal Analytics Looks Like

The first screen you’ll land on is called “Home”. And note the different left hand navigation. with the specific reports that are available. Also, you’ll see the blue bar at the top warning you about the upcoming switch to GA4 if you’re looking at a UA property.

universal analytics home screen

Will I still be able to utilize historical data from UA?

You will have until the end of December 2023 to download your historical data from UA. According to Google, historical data from UA will be open for access for at least six months after UA stops processing new data. Once this time has passed, you will not be able to access any of the historical data.

How does GA4 collect data compared to UA?

GA4 utilizes an event-based model to track and collect data on a group of events recorded for a user in a given time period. Whereas UA’s session-based data model, is a group of hits recorded for a user in a given time period. Want to know more? Check out this data model comparison here.

ga4 events and hits vs ua

If you are were familiar with UA, this comprehensive guide to understanding GA4 vs. UA may be worth a shot.

Is GA4 harder to use than UA?

GA4 is not necessarily harder to use than UA, but it is different in many ways. The main difficulty is familiarizing yourself with a similar but new layout and functionality that’s recorded in a different way. For those of us who were familiar with UA, there will undoubtedly be hurdles in learning to use the new platform.

In terms of usability, the lack of historical data in GA4 will undoubtedly make reporting a challenge. That’s why you should absolutely set up a GA4 property now to begin collecting data if you haven’t already done so.

What is a data stream in GA4?

GA4 does away with views and instead introduces a new term called a data stream. Data streams they are sources of information that connect directly with your Google Analytics property. Thus, you can have a data stream with data for your website, Android app, and iOS app.

In the days of UA, you would need a different property for a website vs. an app. With GA4, you can combine those two data streams and have a unified view of your visitors across both app and web.

How do you set up GA4?

If you already have a Universal Analytics property, you can add a GA4 property from within your same Google Analytics account. If you haven’t already created your GA4 property, this video tutorial will show you how to do it in 5 minutes with Google Tag Manager so you can start collecting data:

What is engagement rate in GA4?

An engaged session lasts longer than 10 seconds OR results in a more conversion event OR has 2 or more page/screen views. Engagement rate is the percentage of sessions considered “engaged” by Google to your total sessions. For example, if you had 100 engaged sessions, and 1,000 total, your engagement rate would be 10%.

What is engagement time in GA4?

According to Google, the User engagement metric shows the time that your app screen was in the foreground or your web page was in focus.

But GA4 does not track time on page. If you want to know how long a visitor has a single page on your site open, you’d need to set up page timer tracking for Google Analytics 4 with the help of Google Tag Manager.

Where is bounce rate in GA4?

Bounce rate is no longer a metric in GA4 as it once was in UA, with its counterpart “engagement rate” taking the reins. Google says the metric can be misleading and unreliable, especially on mobile devices as users tend not to generate multiple page views during these shorter sessions. However, many of us will miss bounce rate as it was a familiar way to track landing page performance.

Losing out on bounce rate is one of the potential problems with GA4 that will hit some of us harder than others.

**NEW AS OF JULY 11, 2022: An update to GA4 will now allow users to add bounce rate to their GA4 reports. However, this bounce rate is not the old calculation that most of us have been accustomed to with bounce rate. Instead, the new GA4 bounce rate will simply be the inverse of engagement rate. Here’s an explanation of bounce rate in GA4 vs. UA.

What is an audience trigger in GA4?

By using an audience trigger, you can trigger events to fire when new users enter into an audience that you have previously defined. You can have up to 20 audience triggers in each GA4 property.

You can learn more about audience triggers here.

What is a GA4 Predictive Audience?

A predictive audience in Google Analytics 4 is an audience where at least one of the “audience conditions” is based on a predictive metric. For example, you could build an audience based on users who were likely to purchase on the site in an upcoming time period.

To create a predictive audience, you’ll use the Configure menu and then select “Audiences.” Then “New audience” and select “Predictive”. There are multiple predictive conditions you can select including:

  • Most likely
  • Least likely
  • Custom

Check out the linked Google support article to learn more about predictive audiences in GA4.

How long are deleted GA4 properties held before they are permanently gone?

If you delete a GA4 property it is held in the Trash Can for 35 days. After that, it is gone forever. In that 35 day window, you can manage any properties in the Trash Can in the Admin section of your GA4 property under “Account”.

What attribution model does GA4 use? (And what exactly is an attribution model?)

Attribution assigns credit for conversions to unique ads, clicks, and factors along a user’s path until they convert an event. Attribution models assign conversion credit to different touchpoints on conversion paths. They can be rules, a set of rules, or a computer algorithm.

By default Universal Analytics uses the cross-channel last-click model as its reporting attribution model. This gives 100% conversion credit to the last touchpoint on the conversion path.

Google Analytics 4 can use something called data driven attribution to assign credit for conversions. If you’d like to learn more, this attribution model explainer might be worth saving for later viewing.

What are enhanced measurement events in GA4?

Enhanced measurement events in GA4 allow you to track and measure interactions with even more content on your site. Think of them as optional automatic event trackers that you can easily turn on or off. Enhanced measurement events include: scrolls for people scrolling at least 90% of a page, outbound clicks from your website to other websites, site search for the keywords entered into your website’s search function, video engagement of people watching embedded YouTube videos, and files downloads for people downloading files from your website.

Enhanced measurement events are turned on by default when you first set up your data stream.

What happens when you leave enhanced measurement events enabled while you are setting up your data stream?

If you leave enhanced measurement turned on, you will have the following events tracked and available in your GA4 reports.

ga4 setup enhanced measurement events

There are actually 4 types of events in GA4. This event comparison of GA4 vs. UA has the details.

What are the 3 other event types outside of enhanced measurement events?

  1. Automatically collected events – Automatically collected events are events that are automatically collected by GA4. Automatically collected means all you need to do is implement the GA4 tracking code on your site and the events start rolling into your GA4 property.
  2. Recommended events – These are events that you implement into your property, but they already have predefined names and parameters. These events have the capability of unlocking existing and future reporting capabilities.
  3. Custom events – Custom events are just events that you define yourself. They should only be utilized when none of the automatic or other events make sense for your situation. These events also tend not to show up in reports, and actually require you to build a separate custom report.

How to create segments in Google Analytics 4?

A segment is a subset of your Analytics data. For example, of your entire set of users, one segment might be users from a particular continent. Let’s learn how to create a segment below:

On the left-hand side of GA4, select Explore.

  1. The Explorations workspace appears.
  2. Create a new exploration or select an existing one.
  3. On the left, in Tab Settings, in the Segments section, click the plus sign.

There are three options for creating new segments:

  1. Create a custom segment by defining all the parameters yourself.
  2. Start with a suggested segment based on common use cases.
  3. Right-click a data point in your visualization to open the context menu, then select Create segment from selection.

Can you link GA4 with Google Ads?

Yes, linking Google Analytics 4 properties to to both individual and manager Google Ads accounts is possible. Doing so will give you a better understanding of your customer cycle. Each property can have up to 400 links. You may want to consider creating a Google Ads manager account. Then link it to your Analytics property if your current Google Ads setup exceeds this limit.

If you share audiences from GA4 to Google Ads how much historical data do you have to start your audience?

You have up to 30 days of audience data upon first sharing an audience from GA4 to Google Ads.

Can you link Google Analytics 4 with Search Console?

Yes, you can connect your GA4 account with your Google Search Console property. By integrating the property with GA4 you can view data on things such as queries, impressions, clicks, landing pages, CTR, etc. You can only link your Google Search Console property with one data stream. Plus the reports need to be manually published via the ‘Library’ menu. You can find the report under the left navigation to appear in your GA4 reporting view.

If you haven’t done it yet, here’s a 3 minute guide to linking GA4 with Search Console:

What is a Conversion in GA4?

A conversion in GA4 is any event you flag to let Google know that it contributes to the success of your business. Users interacting with your site or app will trigger these events. Triggered events will then register a conversion in your GA4 property.

For an in depth view of conversion tracking in GA4 vs. UA, this tutorial may be helpful:

Just like there was in Universal Analytics, there is a “conversion paths” report in GA4 where you can investigate the various traffic sources that contributed to various conversions on your site.

Where Can I Find the Conversion Paths Report in Google Analytics 4?

To find the conversion paths report in GA4, access the “Advertising” section in the left-hand navigation and then click on “Conversion paths”.

You can see this below with the “Advertising” section in the red box.

how to find ga4 conversion paths report

This can be a really effective report for understanding what traffic channels are most effective in driving conversions. Here’s an example of part of that report.

google analytics 4 conversion paths

Which Part of GA4 Property Lets You Manage Events, Conversions, and Audiences? 

First, select the Configure menu which is the last item on the left-hand navigation. The Configure menu expands to show Events, Conversions, and Audiences.

You can see this in the screenshot below. The Configure Menu is in the red square and you can then manage your events, conversions, and audiences.

configure menu to manage events, conversions, and audiences in ga4

What are Dimensions and Metrics in GA4?

Dimensions and metrics are the two components of GA4 data. Dimensions are the characteristics or attributes of the data that you want to measure. Metrics are the quantifiable number associated with the data. Let’s provide a concrete example. Assume you had 150 sessions on your website during a given time period. Those sessions will arrive on your site from various traffic channels. Let’s say those traffic channels broke down as follows.

  • Organic Search = 90 sessions
  • Referral = 30 sessions
  • Direct = 20 sessions
  • Email = 10 sessions

In this example the number of sessions is the metric. The traffic channel (Organic Search, Referral, Direct, Email) is the dimension that you are using to analyze the data. With Google Analytics data we can explore our key metrics and combine multiple dimensions to dig into our data and (hopefully!) find opportunities for improved performance.

With GA4, dimensions can be “event-scoped” or “user-scoped”. This is worth discussing.

What is an event-scoped dimension in GA4?

An “event-scoped” dimension describes the action someone performs. Event-scoped dimensions come from event parameters that are sent with events. 

The value of an event-scoped dimension often changes as someone engages with your website.

What is a user-scoped dimension in GA4?

A “user-scoped” dimension describes the person who is performing the action. User-scoped dimensions come from user properties.

Examples include geography, gender, language, and country. The value of a user-scoped dimension should change very rarely.

It is possible to create custom dimensions and metrics in GA4. You can read Google’s support article on that here.

What are Custom Dimensions in GA4?

With GA4 we can create our own own events using Google Tag Manager and send event parameters with those events. Event parameters are additional dimensions that describe the event. We can see this data in our GA4 property after we register those event parameters as custom dimensions in GA4.

Does this sound confusing to you? It was confusing to me as well. I made this video to help explain what’s going and how to do it.

Important note: there are limits on the number of custom dimensions we can create in GA4. You can see that information in the table below. Unless you’re currently paying big bucks for a GA360 property, you will have up to 50 event-scoped custom dimensions and up to 25 user-scoped custom dimensions in your GA4 property.

custom dimension limits in ga4

What is Page location vs. Page Path vs. Landing Page in GA4?

Page locations shows the full URL of your page, including all parameters. Page path only includes the portion of the URL following the hostname (hostname = your domain name) but not any URL parameters. The landing page will show the portion of the URL following the hostname and will also include query parameters.

Read more for specific examples.

What is Page Location in GA4?

Page location shows the full URL of your page in GA4. It is stored as an event parameter called page_location. In the example URL https://www.rootandbranchgroup.com/ga4-page-timer-tracking/?s=bounce+rate, that entire URL structure (search parameters included) is the page location.

GA4 does have a limitation here because it will truncate the max characters in your full URL.

What is Page Path + Screen Class in GA4?

The page path and screen class is the page path (on a web site) or screen class (on an app) where an event was logged. It only includes the portion of the URL following the hostname. In the example URL https://www.rootandbranchgroup.com/ga4-page-timer-tracking/?s=bounce+rate, the path path and screen class is /ga4-page-timer-tracking.

What is Page Path + Query String in GA4?

The page path and query string is the page path (on a web site) or screen class (on an app) where an event was logged plus any query parameters. It does not include the hostname. In the example URL https://www.rootandbranchgroup.com/ga4-page-timer-tracking/?s=bounce+rate, the path path and screen class is /ga4-page-timer-tracking/?s=bounce+rate.

What is landing page in GA4?

The landing page in GA4 will not include the hostname. It will include the query string and any other URL parameters.

Wrapping Up

Google Analytics 4 brings a lot of new and unique features to the table. Staying up to date is a must when it comes to change on these platforms. Utilize and setup the property now, to begin collecting historical data in the dashboard for future use! We hope you enjoyed this article, you can check more out here. In the meantime, have fun and keep on learning!

About Root & Branch

Root & Branch is a certified Google Partner agency and focuses on paid search (PPC), SEO, Local SEO, and Google Analytics. Learn more here, or hit the button below to check out YouTube for more digital marketing tips and training resources.

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7 replies
    • Zack_Duncan
      Zack_Duncan says:

      Hello Jitin. Overall, I still don’t think GA4 is “better” than UA. I’d prefer to continue to use UA if I could! But here are a few things that I do think GA4 does better than UA:

      – Easier cross domain tracking
      – Theoretically a more accurate session count (unlike with UA, sessions do not “break” at midnight if the same session is continuing on the site)
      – Some events that required more work to track in UA are easier in GA4. This includes external link clicks, file downloads, and embedded YouTube video plays

      How about you? Anything you’ve seen with GA4 that you like more than UA?

      Reply

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  4. […] about GA4 (as I am), I’d recommend checking out this GA4 vs. UA comparison or this list of updated GA4 questions. You can also subscribe to the Root and Branch YouTube channel for an updated video every week or […]

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