ga4 migration checklist

GA4 Migration Checklist

Are you ready for the GA4 takeover?

If you're reading this checklist, you probably already have a GA4 account up and running or are just gathering the strength to upgrade. No matter your account's status, we've created a checklist to help you review your GA4 to ensure everything is set and ready for July 1st, when standard Universal Analytics properties will stop processing data.

1. Accounts Settings

When upgrading from Universal Analytics, it's easy to miss a few settings during the set-up, as most users assume the GA4 move is as quick as clicking the Get Started button and adding the tag to the website.

ga4 setup assistant

Make sure your GA4 is tracking.
This might seem obvious, but it will only take a minute to ensure your GA4 tag is correctly implemented and that you're using the correct property.

Review that all your account settings were copied during the migration from UA to GA4.
There are lots of settings that are ignored during the move to GA4. You'll find most of them inside the Data Stream settings under Show All in the Configure Google Tag settings:

  • List unwanted referrals - add a list of domains whose traffic shouldn't be considered referrals.
  • Set up cross-domain tracking - add a list of domains that use the same GA4 tag.
  • Exclude internal traffic - define IP addresses whose traffic should be marked as internal.
  • Avoid the Collect Universal Analytics Events setting - Start fresh in GA4 and avoid polluting your new account with old and irrelevant UA events.

Accept the Google Signals Data Collection to enable Demographics data collection.
This setting is also used for ad personalisation. Ensure your website follows privacy laws and asks for consent to track before you enable this setting.

Update your Data Retention.
As a default, Google will set your data retention to 2 months, so you'll have to manually change it to 14 months.

Review the Attribution Settings work for your specific goals.
Inside settings, go to Attribution Settings, where you can update your attribution model and acquisition window. GA4 will use data-driven as the attribution model as a default, while Universal Analytics used last non-direct attribution as a default.

Make sure all of your accounts are linked to GA4.
This includes Google Ads, Merchant Center and Search Console, among others.

2. Event tracking

Some of us are used to UA's effortless and intuitive goal tracking, but GA4 takes a bit more effort. These are the main things to keep in mind:

Determine which key events you want to track.
Most Universal Analytics accounts have event tracking for events that haven't fired in the last two years or aren't relevant anymore. Moving to GA4 can be a great opportunity to tidy up your event tracking. Do you really need 20 conversion goals? Instead, make a list of your key events and focus on setting them up.

Determine which parameters you want to track for each event and add them to your custom dimensions.
Custom dimensions are the extra information we can collect from an event. You can set up any parameter you want to follow.

Is your e-commerce tracking really working?
E-commerce implementation for GA4 is a whole other world, and we've seen every possible issue with our clients, even accounts where everything seemed to be working, value tracking was an issue. The most common mistake we've seen is not adding a parameter for Currency during the set-up on Google Tag Manager.

Check all of your key events are marked as goals and imported to Google Ads.
Similar to the old Universal Analytics, select which events to turn into goals, and they'll be available to import to Google Ads.

3. Google Ads

Besides linking both accounts, you’ll have to update anything that uses UA (conversion, audiences, etc) to GA4.

Set up new audience tracking.
Like events, audiences won't be copied to GA4 during the migration. You can replicate your key UA audiences or test new formats. You'll find audience templates relevant to your industry.

Switching UA conversions to Secondary priority and moving GA4 events to Primary.
Google recommends leaving the GA4 conversion events as secondary for 15 days after importing them to check their performance against the same UA events. Google says up to 20% discrepancy between the same events is expected.
Once you're happy with your GA4 conversion events, move them to Primary.

Make sure Google Ads is using the new GA4 conversions to optimise your campaigns.
Related to the previous point, if you're using campaign-specific goals, ensure you've switched them to GA4.

Add all of the relevant remarketing GA4 audiences to your campaigns.
Soon your UA remarketing audiences will stop collecting data, remember to import your GA4 audiences to your relevant campaigns to start running alongside the old audiences. Google can identify the same audience in UA and GA4, so you can run both together.

Extra tip
Replicate your main goals (ecommerce, main lead enquiries) as a Google Ads Tag.
Google Ads Tag is usually more accurate than analytics goal tracking. It also keeps you from losing data during the UA to GA4 switch since GAds Tag conversions will continue running without being affected. We recommend having at least your main goal as a GAds Tag.

4. Reporting

This is where things get more complicated. If you use Looker Studio to report on your GA4 data, you may have noticed some Quota Errors when adding multiple elements to your report. This is because Google has limited the number of data requests allowed via the GA4 data connector.

If your report is small or doesn't contain much GA4 data, you should be fine, but if you're data-obsessed like us, this limit might affect your daily reporting life. More info here.

Refresh your LookerStudio data to GA4 and remove redundant elements.
Our way around the daily and hourly data limits is to only use essential GA4 data, removing old filters and redundant tables and charts. We’re also using GAds Tag data for main event conversions.

So there you have it, a complete checklist of everything you need to ensure you're ready for July 1st. We hope you find this list helpful. In the past year, we've used it to help move all our client accounts to GA4.
Feel free to contact us if you have questions about GA4 or need advice on switching over the accounts. Good luck!

Let's talk

getting started with ga4

Getting Started With GA4

How To Set Up GA4 And Create Events

You might've heard that the Google Analytics (GA) we know and have been using for years will stop tracking in the summer of 2023 and will be replaced by Google Analytics 4 (GA4). This new version is event-based, meaning any interaction can be captured as an event instead of focusing on sessions like the original GA.

You can read more about their differences here

While there's still time to do the switch, if you're reading this guide, you've probably decided it's time to move on to GA4, and we couldn't agree more. We recommend that you set up GA4 as soon as possible to run it alongside Universal Analytics.

Follow our quick basic setup guide to help you get started with GA4:

1/ Create GA4

If you have a Universal Analytics account, select the view you want to copy to GA4, go to settings, and under Property, you'll find the GA4 Setup Assistant.

If you don't have an account, when you register with Google Analytics, you'll have the option to create only GA4 or to create GA4 plus Universal Analytics, we recommend the second option for now.

ga4 setup assistant

2/ Follow the steps of the Setup Assistant to install the tag onto your website.

ga4 setup tag

Inside your Data Stream, you'll find the account's Measurement ID. You can either install your tag manually (by copy-pasting the code into your website's <head>) or use Google Tag Manager by creating a GA4 Configuration Tag and adding your Measurement ID.

3/ Enable enhanced measurement
Inside your Data Stream, you'll find all the interactions GA4 can automatically track for you. These include primary events like outbound clicks, video engagement, file downloads, etc.

These events can easily be turned into conversions and imported into Google Ads.

4/ How to track custom events
If you want to track specific actions taken on your site, we suggest creating custom events.
Custom events are created from existing events, meaning you need one of the automatically-created events as a base. In Configure, go to Events and select Create event.

Let's take a look at a few examples below:

To track a specific link click. If you want to track clicks on your email address, you'll need to have "click" as a base for your new outbound clicks event. You'll then need a parameter to identify the specific link click you want to track, in this case, we'll use link_url.

To track a form submission thank-you page. If you've used Google Analytics before, you'll remember Destination goals. They were very useful for tracking specific page views. This is how to recreate that on GA4:

To track a thank-you page, you need the "page_view" event as your base. Use page_location to identify your confirmation page.

To track a specific PDF download. In this case, you'll need the file_download event as a base, and we'll use the same parameter page_location to identify the PDF we want to track.

ga4 pdf downloads

5/ How to use custom dimensions
Custom dimensions are the extra information we can collect from an event. You can set up any parameter you want to follow. This list explains which parameters work with each event type

Here's how to set up a custom dimension and where to find it once it's enabled:

In Configure, go to Custom definitions and click on Create custom dimensions:

If we want to see which PDFs users are downloading from our site, we can add a file_name parameter:

To see your new parameter in action, go to the Events report and filter by event type, in this case, file_downloads. Then, add a second column for your custom dimension. Remember it takes GA4 a few days to start showing this data. It will only show the file_name for PDFs downloaded after you've created the new parameter.

ga4 pdf report

6/ GA4 and Google Ads
Once your setup is done, you can link GA4 and Google Ads the same way you would with Universal Analytics. You can import the events you've created after marking them as conversions.

To see your Google Ads report on GA4, go to Acquisition Overview, you'll find a board that says "View Google Ads campaigns" - click on it to see the full report.

Setting up a GA4 account sounds scary, especially if you’ve been using Universal Analytics for a while and are used to the current layout. But if you follow our easy steps, you'll be able to get started with GA4 in no time!