How to Upgrade to Google Analytics 4 - Step By Step 

If you use Google Analytics on your website, you may have seen the notices that you have until July 2023, before Universal Analytics property stops collecting data. What does this mean?  

Since the release of Google Analytics 4 (GA4), you might be panicking about upgrading your Universal Analytics property to the latest GA4 version.  

The upgrade process is pretty straightforward, but there are some essential things you should know before you start. So without further ado, let's walk through the steps you will need to upgrade to Google Analytics 4. 

This article assumes you have an existing universal analytics property. 

Do You Need to Upgrade to Google Analytics 4?  

The good news is that Google has given us a fair warning that data will stop flowing in Universal Analytics property in July 2023, so there is no need to panic. You won't lose your historical data, but you will not be able to collect new data after this date. In fact, according to Google, "All standard Universal Analytics properties will stop processing new hits on July 1, 2023. 360 Universal Analytics properties will stop processing new hits on October 1, 2023."  

So whilst it's not imminent, it's probably a good idea to begin your Google Analytics 4 upgrade to access all the new features and reports it offers. Upgrading will also give you the time to navigate around the new dashboard to find the data and reports you need to improve your customer experience.  

How to Upgrade to Google Analytics 4 

Whilst technically not an 'upgrade' for this blog post, we are going to use that word. You create a brand new analytics property and deploy it on your website, and it can start collecting data right away.  

For the time being, the good news is that you can run Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 side by side without skewing your data. If you use the gtag.js tracking code, it’s a super simple process. If you use Google Tag Manager, then you just need to add an extra tag to start collecting Google Analytics 4 Data.  

Step 1: Confirm You Are Currently Using Universal Analytics 

To do this, log into your Google Analytics Account. Once you are in, you can check if you are using an existing Universal Analytics property. Go to the admin area. Once you are in, you will see three columns, one for the account, one for property and one for view. It should look like the image below.  

How to Upgrade to Google Analytics 4 - Step By Step  1

If you are using Google Analytics 4, you will only see two columns. One for the account and one for a property like the image shown here. 

How to Upgrade to Google Analytics 4 - Step By Step  2

In summary, you are looking for one of two scenarios.  

  • If you have three columns in the admin area, you are using universal analytics, and you should read on & upgrade to GA4. 
  • If you have two columns in the admin area, you already use Google Analytics 4 and don't need to upgrade.  

It's still worth reading this article to check that you have the proper implementation.  

What Happens When You Upgrade To Google Analytics 4?  

Once you finish your upgrade to Google Analytics 4, your universal analytics data remains the same. This is because a brand new property is created, and you can use Universal Analytics and GA 4 in tandem whilst you wrap your head around how everything works.  

Get Started With Installing Google Analytics 4 

When you are ready to upgrade to Google Analytics 4, go to your admin area and look for the 'Property' column. The first option under that heading is the 'GA4 Setup Assistant' This is what we will need to click on to launch your upgrade.

How to Upgrade to Google Analytics 4 - Step By Step  3

This will launch a wizard, which will outline a few things its important to bear in mind.  

  • It will only start with basic settings: Only basic settings will be copied; you should not expect advanced customisations such as goals, filters or conversion tracking. You will need to set this up again.  
  • The new property won't have any historical data. Since your new Google Analytics 4 property doesn't have any recorded information, you will need to keep your Universal Analytics property alive to view that data.  
  • Enhanced Measurement is Enabled By Default. The enhanced measurement feature will automatically track specific actions on your website and records them as events. This includes clicking outbound links, downloading files, page scrolls or watching videos. These can then be added as conversion goals. We will be including a post on enhanced measurement soon.  

Click Create Property.  

How to Upgrade to Google Analytics 4 - Step By Step  4

If you use the gtag.js tracking code, you won't need to do anything. Data will be collected via your existing tag. Select 'Create Property.'  

How to Upgrade to Google Analytics 4 - Step By Step  5

Your property has now been created so you can add the tag to your website.  

How To Add The GA4 Tag in Google Tag Manager 

Click 'see your GA 4 property' to check out your new property. You can then begin to customise it.  

How to Upgrade to Google Analytics 4 - Step By Step  6

Scroll down to 'tag installation' under 'collection'. You can now see the data stream set up. 

How to Upgrade to Google Analytics 4 - Step By Step  7

Next, you need to select the data stream. Think of the data stream like the old Universal Analytics tracking ID. If you click on your newly created data stream, it opens the 'web stream details' window.

How to Upgrade to Google Analytics 4 - Step By Step  8

In the top right-hand corner, you will see the measurement ID. It’s the equivalent of the old Universal Analytics property Tracking ID.  

Copy this code, or make a note of it. In my example, the measurement ID is G-CHX6XH7TX3, but you need to use the one you create.  

Now we can install the code via Google Tag Manager. If you don't use Google Tag Manager already, but you want to, then you will need to select the 'Add New On-Page Tag' option. Choose 'Google Tag Manager from the options below & you will be shown how to set up a new container.

How to Upgrade to Google Analytics 4 - Step By Step  9

For the purpose of this guide, I am assuming you already have GTM if you want to install your code that way, so this guide does not explain how to create a new Google container. However, if you've managed to set up an Analytics property, you will find making a new container a piece of cake!  

So we will choose 'Use Existing On-Page Tag' and select the 'Google Tag Manager' Option. Look for the measurement ID in the instructions below. Make a note of it or copy it to your clipboard.

How to Upgrade to Google Analytics 4 - Step By Step  10

Now its time to go over to Google Tag Manager & create a new tag for our GA 4 Property. First, log into your Tag Manager account and select the appropriate container. In the overview, select 'New Tag.'

How to Upgrade to Google Analytics 4 - Step By Step  11

Title your tag something meaningful like 'GA4' or "Google Analytics 4' so it's easy to recognise.  

Click 'Tag Configuration' & choose 'Google Analytics GA4 Configuration' as your tag type.

How to Upgrade to Google Analytics 4 - Step By Step  12

Simply paste the measurement ID to the empty field.  

Next, you need to add a trigger. Click on the 'Triggering' box below. We want our google analytics 4 to fire whenever a user visits the website, so select 'All Pages' for this trigger. This will add the GA4 tag to all pages of the website. Save your configuration.

How to Upgrade to Google Analytics 4 - Step By Step  13

Test Your Tag Is Working 

It's a good idea to test the tag before deploying. To do this, go back to the overview screen & in the top right-hand corner, click 'preview'. This will open a new window and prompt you to enter a URL. Enter your website's URL and click 'connect'.

How to Upgrade to Google Analytics 4 - Step By Step  14

The preview page now loads the debug console and opens your website in a new tab. When your website loads, go back to the Tag Assistant tab in your browser, and you will be able to see if the tag has fired correctly.  

Important - you will have three browser tabs open - One for tag manager, one for tag manager debug view, and one preview of the website. Keep these available so you can navigate between them.  

You are looking for the name of the tag you just created. In this instance, I aptly named it 'Google Analytics 4'. In the image below, you can also see that the Universal Analytics property tag is also loaded.

How to Upgrade to Google Analytics 4 - Step By Step  15

You can also click on the tag and double-check that the measurement ID is correct.

Publish Your Tag 

Once you are satisfied that the tag is firing correctly, you will need to deploy it. Don't forget this step or Analytics 4 will not be installed!  

For this, head back to the tag manager tab, where you should see the Tag Manager Overview screen. Click 'Submit' in the top right corner next to preview.  

You will be prompted to enter a version name and description. Just add something meaningful like GA4 Configuration and then click 'Publish.'  

Confirm the data is flowing in Your Google Analytics Account 

Once the tag is live, you can make one final check with Google Analytics to check the data is flowing into your property. To do this, navigate back to the debug view in your browser. - this should be the middle tab of the three you're working on.  

From this screen, select the Analytics option & you will be able to see that a hit has been sent to Google Analytics.

How to Upgrade to Google Analytics 4 - Step By Step  16

Congratulations! your tag is live & data is flowing! 

A Few final steps in setting up New Google Analytics 4.  

We are almost done with the upgrade. Go back to Google Analytics, where you just set up your new property. Head to the admin area of the latest property you just created and click 'Setup Assistant' under the 'Property' column.  

On this screen, you can find a few more options to configure. this includes  

  • Enhanced measurement for controlling automatic events 
  • Activate Google Signals. This helps with advertising features.  
  • Linking to Google Ads. If you have a Google Ads account, you can enter the ID and follow the steps required. We won't cover that here.  
  • You can link to audience and conversion reports.  
  • Create Conversions
How to Upgrade to Google Analytics 4 - Step By Step  17

Take time to have a play. There is no need to do all of this at once. But getting ahead of the game will give you many months to get to grips with some of the great new features of Google Analytics 4 & when the time comes, you won't need to panic!

Upgrade Google Analytics 4 - Conclusion 

Well done, you have managed to upgrade to Google Analytics 4. You can still use it alongside the Universal Analytics property for the time being. The new property won't show historical data, so it's a good idea to enable data collection now. 

Don't delete your Universal Analytics Property. Although it will stop collecting data in 2023, you can't view the historical stuff without it.  

I hope this guide helped you install and upgrade to Google Analytics 4! Upgrading to the latest version of GA unlocks many features, including new reports and a more simplified and streamlined collection of data.  

We will be adding more Google Analytics 4 resources over the coming weeks. Watch out for links on this article, or sign up to our mailing list to be the first to be notified of new blogs.  

Step-by-Step Video Walkthrough 

If you prefer to watch a walkthrough of the steps to upgrade to Google Analytics 4 - A tutorial is coming soon.

Written By Andi Wilkinson Last Updated 28th March 2022 
Creative Director of Made By Factory. UX Designer & SEO Nerd, Andi is also a board member of Manchester Digital, and speaks and writes on a variety of web-related topics.
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