Universal Analytics Retires July 1, 2023. Is Your Website Ready?

March 15, 2023

Is your website updated to GA4? If not, time is running out to make this critical change. The deadline to switch to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is July 1, 2023.

You may be wondering why this Google update is so important, especially since Google seems to make constant changes.

Man at computer screen

While it’s true that Google is continuously making algorithm updates, which are designed to improve the quality, relevance and user experience of its search results, these updates have no major impact on most websites.

Google’s core updates change multiple parts of its algorithm. The effects of a core update are wider reaching. If they impact your site, you’ll usually detect it in changes in your site’s analytics. For example, decreasing site visits may be a sign of lower organic ranking resulting from the update.

The reason the switch to GA4 is such a big deal is because it affects all of the data collected from your site – the data that enables you to see and understand your site’s performance and your customers’ interactions with your site.

Enhanced data collection, privacy

Google Analytics (GA) provides a wealth of information about your website; for example, where visitors came from, how long they stayed on your site, the pages they visited and the actions they took. It can help you make data-driven decisions about your site and marketing channels.

Although GA isn’t the only web analytics tool available, it is by far the most widely used – and it’s free. Universal Analytics (UA), which launched in 2013, officially retires July 1. After that date, you will no longer have access to UA data.

When you activate GA4 on your website, it will immediately start collecting data. That means you can use UA up until the deadline while also collecting data in GA4. If you haven’t turned on GA4 by July 1, you will no longer have Google Analytics data. If you happen to see a deadline of July 1, 2024, note that the 2024 deadline affects only those who use Universal Analytics 360, a paid Google product used by enterprise sites.

In addition, Google announced in February that it is currently auto-migrating sites that haven’t opted out of auto-migration. This means Google will determine which UA data is important to migrate, which is not a preferred option for most users. You can take a deeper dive into auto-migration here.

Google says it developed GA4 to help site owners better understand the customer journey by collecting data on website and app interactions vs. measuring visits to your site and pages. It also enhanced privacy with features such as cookieless measurement. (Read more about the features of GA4 here.)

The changes to data collection in GA4 are pretty extensive so you won’t be able to compare it against data collected in UA. But, if you do want to save historical data from UA, you’ll have to transfer it from UA to another platform.

If you need help setting up GA4 on your website, contact the web team at Fresh Creative.

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Fresh Creative is a full-service digital marketing agency serving international, national, and regional clients. Regional areas include Lebanon, Hershey, Harrisburg, York, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania.