December 23, 2022

Why is Google Analytics 4 better than Universal Analytics?

On the 1st of July 2023, Google will be replacing its cherished Universal Analytics (UA) with a new, more sophisticated upgrade: Google Analytics 4 (GA4). With a variety of new features and tailored report structures to explore, this new generation of website data analytics will change the way we monitor and track user engagement with our website, blogs and businesses. GA4 has introduced new capabilities for us to engage with our data, sparking debate and difference of opinions among Analytics users all over the world as to how useful this new platform really is. 

So, why is GA4 better than UA? The main advantage of Google Analytics 4 is the new, customisable reports that allow you to track and monitor the exact niche of data that you require. Using GA4, you can now create reports that detail every step users take before making a purchase, or explore the different paths users take to get to any valuable information on your website. The in-depth exploration provides new, valuable insights that you may not otherwise have discovered. 

It’s this exact focus on user journey that makes GA4 so unique. We understand that not everyone is as thrilled about this upcoming change as we are, so to help you learn more about the main advantages of GA4 compared to UA, our team of SEO experts have written this short guide for you to explore. Simply keep reading to learn more about the main advantages of Google’s new data tool… 

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What are the main differences between GA4 and UA?

If you’re new to Analytics altogether, you may be wondering why there’s such debate among the old Google Analytics and the new one. The truth is that almost everything feels different about GA4, and this definitely is a change for the better. Here’s a quick summary of everything we’ve found to be different so far…

Simplified layout

If you’ve already set-up your GA4, you may have noticed some big differences in how your new analytics looks, feels and reports. The main difference, as you may already know, is the layout. Finding the data you’re looking for may feel like it got more complex, but Google have simply condensed reports to make room for new, customisable graphs and charts that showcase only the data you wish to view. 

This new layout, found under the ‘Reports’ section, features fewer pre-made reports than Universal Analytics. Here, your graphs and charts are simply split into 6 unique categories: 

It’s important to note that these reports cannot be edited, but they can be filtered. This is to place more emphasis on the GA4’s new ‘Explore’ feature, where you can craft and tailor your own graphs, charts and tables. 

Customisable reports

The biggest, and most valuable, change of GA4 is the new ‘Explore’ feature. If you thought Universal Analytics told you everything you need to know about your data, think again… Using this new, interactive tool you can configure 6 unique Explore reports. This includes: 

From learning the step-by-step actions that your users are taking to complete a conversion, to comparing the different and similar demographics, the possibilities of the charts, graphs and tables that you can configure are endless. These valuable insights will provide you with never-known-before information about your users, and more importantly, about your website. From improving a page to ensuring that your conversion steps are simplified, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without these customisable reports. 

Different metrics 

Long gone are the days where we would track vanity metrics such as bounce rates or page views. Instead, we’re welcoming the new, more in-depth metrics that allow us to really understand our users. But for those who still wished to examine those types of metrics, don’t worry. They haven’t disappeared altogether, we just report them in different ways. For example, bounce rates can be shown through new data such as how far users scroll down a certain page combined with how long they spend on a page, or even through tracking where they click on your website next. These new, valuable insights demonstrate just how detailed these new reports really are. 

Not only has how we see our data changed, but also what data is tracked. With GA4, our new data is more accurate. This is because Analytics now tracks data without duplicate users, meaning that only a single user journey, regardless of what device they’re using to access your website or app, is reported, leaving us with precise numbers that we can rely on. 

Learn more about the differences between Universal Analytics and GA4 in our blog, Why You Should Implement GA4 Before July 2023.

Why is data in GA4 measured in Events and not Sessions?

Universal Analytics tracked data using ‘sessions’, while the new generation of GA4 tracks all user journeys as ‘events’. But what exactly does this mean, and why did it need to change? As previously mentioned, GA4 deduplicates your users, meaning that you won’t be provided with repeat data from the same person. In other words, this data is now distinctive, classing it as a singular person’s event (engagement) on your website, rather than multiple sessions. Data from an individual such as clicks, page scrolls or completing a transaction will not be tracked altogether, providing us analytic experts with an accurate report on how users engage with an app or website. 

How do I set up GA4?

Setting up your GA4 may seem like a daunting task, but if you’re already using Universal Analytics then it’s quick and simple as long as you have the right permissions.

Once you log into your GA account, click on the ‘Admin’ icon on the left navigation tool. Confirm your account and property, and click on GA4 Setup Assistant. To finish, simply click on the big blue button that says ‘Get Started’. And just like that, you’re all done!

GA4 reporting with Wildcat Digital

When you come to Wildcat Digital for digital marketing services, you’ll receive a monthly report on the health of your campaign using a mixture of Universal Analytics (until July 2023) and GA4 analytics, as well as a section on how your keywords are performing. 

It’s important to us that we’re transparent with you about how things are going and, as part of our service, each month your dedicated Account Manager will take you through your report, as well as what we’ve been doing throughout the month and what we have planned for the following month. This is also your opportunity to bring up any thoughts, ideas or concerns you may have.

Get in touch with us today to learn more about how our digital marketing services work, or visit our website to learn more about SEO, PPC and Paid Social services.

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Rachel Moore

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