Getting Ready for Google Analytics 4: Read this first!

Getting Ready for Google Analytics: Read this first

Google Analytics’ most loved version – Universal Analytics, is on the verge of being replaced by its distinctively promising Google Analytics 4. 

Getting Ready for Google Analytics: Read this first

If you have become comfortable with the current version of Universal Analytics, then this news might have unsettled you a bit. On July 1  2023, the end of Universal Analytics will conclude an era in web analytics

Google Analytics was revolutionary for businesses, developers, and marketers when it was first released in 2005. It has been a foundational piece of the web analytics toolkit for more than 15 years.

It’s tempting to believe that the transition to Google Analytics 4 (GA 4) will be painless. However, for many users, the situation is far more complicated. Because GA4 accumulates data differently than Universal Analytics, the tagging for this implementation is novel and the fields and interfaces that hold your data are also unique. 

About the GA4

Getting Ready for Google Analytics: Read this first

While Google Analytics 4 (ga4), a google analytics 4 property is not a major overhaul, there are significant data-driven changes regarding how you can store, collect, and visualize your data analytics, such as:

  • Connecting behavioral data for providing better analysis and prediction. It means online stores or eCommerce sites will have more chances to divide their customers into groups and customize their experiences and marketing strategies.
  • Marketers and eCommerce owners will be pleased with expanded marketing attribution models.
  • Simpler ways to connect to other Google Suite tools making export, visualization and reporting data easier. 

Why should you switch to GA4?

Getting Ready for Google Analytics: Read this first

Even though Google Analytics will not officially retire before July 2023, there are three significant reasons why you should consider upgrading to GA4 sooner than later. Here are some significant reasons to switch to Google Analytics 4. 

  • GA4 may soon become the standard for data collection and data analytics. Since new features will also be available, Google will almost certainly add them to GA4 instead of older software versions.
  • If you want to compare year-over-year data, you should use GA4 as soon as possible. GA4 does not support backward data. So, if you don’t start collecting data now, you won’t have enough to compare the years.
  • Google will keep supporting older versions until July 2023, so you might as well use that time to learn more about GA4, the account and property of Google.
  • It raises the value of your analytics-based data. Machine learning gives you accurate and essential user behavior insights and conversion. It also helps you to build new groups of users who are likely to buy or leave, automatically showing you necessary insights that can help you improve your marketing.
  • It boosts your data-driven analysis and predictive metrics. Attribution credits are assigned to multiple clicks through analytic-driven data. This is great for knowing how your marketing efforts are influencing sales. Interestingly, these analytics can be exported easily to the Google Marketing Platform and Google Ads for campaign optimization.
  • You also get Display and Video 360 and Search Ads 360 in Google Analytics to aid you in conversions and campaign performance.
  • This update gives the ability to cater to 125 custom dimensions, 50 conversion types of each property, and 400 audiences. 

Where to get training and support?

Click here for complete Google Analytics 4 training and support. 

How to prepare for the big shift?

Getting Ready for Google Analytics: Read this first

From July 1, 2023, onwards, universal analytics property shall no longer be able to process new hits. Universal Analytics properties will be available after October 1, 2023. Even if you don’t stop processing right now, take the time to get to know the upcoming system 

Here are the steps we suggest for you to make a smooth transition to GA4.

Recalibrate Your Data Layer for UA to GA4 migration

Data layers track your eCommerce site’s conversion funnel. GA4 has more data fields and more options for other data fields. So, if you’re converting your data layer from Universal Analytics to GA4, you’ll need to change the structure of your data layer to take advantage of these new options.

Update your GTM (Google Tag Manager)

It’s essential to set up GA4 tags for the new conversion funnel. Google Tag Manager users must develop new data layer variables to pass as parameters to GA4 eCommerce event tags. 

Server-side Implemented Tag Management is the future of tag management. Server-side tagging hosts a GTM container on your server. Google Tag Manager receives client-side tracking data on that server, processes and manipulates it and then delivers it to third-party providers, analytics tools, and databases. 

Tag management has several benefits, and they are: 

  • Reduced page load control vendor information
  • Reduces ad blockers’ impact
  • Accurate data.

Install and connect with BigQuery

BigQuery is a central repository in the cloud that helps you see and manage your data. By connecting your GA4 data to BigQuery, analysts can join other data sources to your Google Analytics data and create advanced reports. And, because BigQuery and GA4 are both Google products, the setup will be simple.

The BigQuery data connection is now included with GA4 (as opposed to the GA360 price of $150k per year to connect to BigQuery), allowing you to access raw data. All you’ll have to pay to use BigQuery is a small storage fee. You can connect to BigQuery as your primary data warehouse or via a third-party API connection to your current data warehouse.

Why Are Some Marketers Wary of Moving to GA4?

After ten years of Universal Analytics, some experts find Google Analytics 4’s interface significantly different from what they are accustomed to. Filtering data, according to some, is more complex than the features available on UA.

Getting accustomed to a new tool takes time; not everyone can readily adapt to every update. However, if we had to pick just one “good” significant change, it would be the user-centric, multi-device approach. GA4 provides marketers with more precise and helpful user behavior data. However, there are a few changes in reporting with GA4: some key metrics disappear to make way for others that are more relevant to how websites and web applications work today.

Get future-ready with Google Analytics 4

Getting Ready for Google Analytics: Read this first

Should You Migrate today?

It depends on the structure of your website – how big and complex it is. If it has very few goals, migration won’t be a problem. 

Is your site complex?

If it is, migration might not happen that simply. GA4 is still in its development phase, which means that if you upgrade now, you’ll have to set up many things manually. However, you can get a migration tool from GA4 to help you out. 

Everything matters when it comes to data, from how it is collected and stored to how it is analyzed and leveraged. 

In other words, data must be treated as a valuable asset, and GA4 will be the tool that will help make that happen, both now and in the future.

So, how eager are you to switch to Google Analytics 4?

Google deletes third-party cookies; Now what?

Google Deletes third party cookies

The death of third-party cookies was announced by Google – at least as far as its chrome web browser and ad networks. This represents a monumental change in the world of digital marketing and a step towards protecting consumer privacy. Of course, it does not mean Google is not collecting users’ data or using it to target ads. Still, it does mean that they will stop selling web advertisements targeted individuals browsing habits, and its chrome browser will prevent cookies from collecting data. 

Let’s take a step back. What are third-party cookies?

Advertising companies use them to track you as you go around surfing the internet. They build a profile of you and your interests based on the sites you visit and, through that profile, send ads that are specially tailored for you. 

Google’s third-party cookies are on millions of websites, and they provide the company with a colossal amount of information about the sites you visit. This is the engine that powers its massive ad business. However, with increasing public scrutiny and desire for greater privacy and regulators passing new privacy laws, Google has removed them.

How do Advertisers use them?

  • As a Measurement Metric

Third-party cookies have been vital in enabling marketers to optimize their advertisement campaigns. They do so due to their ability to enhance the measurement of attribution capabilities. 

An example of this would be third-party cookies’ ability to track users across various platforms. Through this capability, a holistic view of the route to conversion can be seen. However, with third-party cookies phased out, these multi-platform models that marketers used to depend on heavily are now significantly less reliable.

  • Targeting

Third-party cookies give marketers a wealth of information on consumer behaviour, including frequently visited websites, purchases, and interests. Through this data, advertisers can precisely target the ideal consumer and send them the perfect messages to increase traffic. 

For example, suppose a potential customer has visited a couple of different websites that sell phones over a week. In that case, an advertiser can deduce that they are interested in purchasing a mobile device. With that, the marketer can create a tailored advertisement on phones for the customer.

What will replace Third-Party Cookies?

To replace Third-Party Cookies, Google has created new privacy-first alternative technology. Enter Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC). This proposed replacement of third-party cookies groups together users with similar browsing interests.

These groups are created by anonymous data that advertisers can use to target, retarget, measure, and optimize their advertisement campaigns. According to Google’s testing, advertisers can expect up to 95% conversion through this new system.

What does all this mean for the world of marketing?

With any significant shift involving data and privacy, there are repercussions on the marketing community. Google’s privacy policies will significantly impact some keystones of digital marketing. However, many other aspects will remain unchanged and maybe even have greater importance placed on them. Here are a couple of alternatives to help ease you into the new digital marketing age after third-party cookies.

  • Contextual Advertising is back. 

These are ads that are relevant to what is on a user’s screen. For example, if a user is looking for cars, car advertisements will be shown. These ads tend to come across as significantly less invasive and creepy for customers compared to third-party cookies-based behavioural retargeting. 

The move to contextual targeting will mean a return to focusing on the production and distribution of relevant content. Relevant content is essential to attract the right traffic. 

This article outlines seven tips to master the art of content writing. It emphasizes the need to have significant research on keywords and the need to incorporate a powerful Call To Action (CTA). Check it out to improve your content writing.

  • First-Party Cookies are more important than ever.

A first-party cookie is a piece of code that generates when a user visits a website and is stored on its computer. Typically, this cookie is used to improve the User Experience (UX). It does so by remembering the user’s passwords, preferences, and some primary data.

Through a first-party cookie, a marketer can learn about what the user did on the website, how many times they visited the website and other basic analytics. This information can help them develop and automate a marketing strategy that is effective at targeting the user. Unfortunately, these cookies cannot access data from the user’s visits to other websites. 

Next step

To hit the ground running, businesses must have the right tools to engage in digital marketing. As a Google-Partner, MIU is constantly in the loop about updates and developments that may impact our clients. Through this, we develop tailored solutions that give an edge to our clients to ensure they can achieve their digital marketing goals. 

If you need a partner to work with you to adapt your marketing campaign in light of the phasing out of third-party cookies by Google, feel free to leave your contact details here.

The Local Finder vs. Google Maps: How Different Are They?

Local Finder vs Google

You do not doubt by now heard countless times that having an online presence is crucial for a brand to propel itself to success. According to a survey done by We Are Social and Hootsuite, search engines are the most popular method to discover new brands. A total of 35% (or one-third) of the internet users surveyed agreed that search engines are their first choice for researching brands, products, and services that they intend on buying.

Other effective methods include social ads, word-of-mouth recommendations, as well as brand websites.

This means that it’s crucial to make sure your eCommerce strategy capitalises on the value that search engines can provide to your brand. And since Google is the most popular search engine, with more than 86% of the market share, it makes sense for us to delve into Google’s functions and what they have to offer small businesses.

As a revolutionary brand, Google has come up with tool after innovative tool over the years. Many of these, while extremely helpful, can be somewhat confusing, particularly for SEO beginners. So today, we’re going to look at Google Maps versus Google Local Finder and what both of them have to provide.

Google Local Finder is a subset of Google Search. It contains an extended listing of local businesses that appear when clicking on the ‘More Places’ link at the bottom of Google’s local pack.

These often include plenty of Google My Business listings. Remember when we said having an online presence is essential for a brand? Well, by signing up for a Google My Business Account, your brand’s ranking on search engines (particularly that of Google) is guaranteed to increase and gain credibility. This also allows you to appear on — you guessed it — tools such as Google Maps and Google Local Finder. And with Google being one of the most significant search engines out there, this can only serve to boost your brand.

However, what one may be concerned with is the difference between Google Maps and Google Local Finder. Is there any advantage to using Google Local Finder, or is it all just a gimmick?

A recent study conducted by Miriam Ellis confirmed that a business’s ranking on Google Local Finder often does not differ from their rankings on Google Maps even though the same search query is used. This means that, depending on which tool consumers use to search for your brand, they might see completely different results.

The area shown on the map at the automatic zoom level for each tool is different as well. In Google Local Finder, the results are often more specific and detailed, whereas Google Maps gives a broader view of the area’s businesses. Product listings tend to show up on Google Local Finder. On the contrary, Google Maps do not have product listings, but it does have attribute icons.

If that’s the case, which is the best tool for you to be using for your brand? Here are some things you can do to find out.

1. Fill in as much information as you can on Google My Business.

We mentioned that the business information that shows up on Google Local Finder and Google Maps vary depending on the platform. To counter this, the best way is to provide Google with as much information about your business as you can.

Google is constantly rearranging the content that shows up on both Google Maps and Local Finder to the point that there is no way to know for sure what aspects will appear on each. Rather than worrying about what will show up on your search results, why not feed Google with as many details as you can give? That way, internet users will be able to obtain as much information about your brand as possible.

Make sure your website is optimised for the keywords that you’re aiming for. You can also boost your ranking by earning publicity on the third-party websites that Google references as your listings.

2. Study the results for your targeted search query on both Google Maps and Local Finder

Since the results vary significantly for each platform, it is essential to know just the rankings (both yours and your competitors) that pop up for your desired search query. Generally speaking, Google Maps casts a broader net than Google Local Finder for their search results.

For brands that want to rank beyond their location, this is something to keep in mind. Of course, the further a user is from your location, the less likely you will show up in their local results. Your business is more likely to show up in a local pack ranking.

However, the wide net cast by Google Maps could mean that you could bring in potential customers from a further distance. If this is what you’re looking for for your brand, by all means, experiment with Google Maps. Keep in mind, though, that while the radius is more expensive, your ranking might be lower as you would be competing with a more extensive saturation of businesses. Consider adopting some strategic marketing plans to help boost your ranking in these cases.

3. Keep in mind the future direction of Google Maps and Local Finder.

Since local packs default to Google Local Finder, most SEO studies have been focused on this particular tool, leaving Google Maps neglected. However, while Local Finder was introduced in 2015, Google Maps has been around since 2005.

With three times more impressions than searches, Google Maps wears the crown in terms of the favourite search engine. Not to mention — Google Maps is the default app on all Android devices! Users of other mobile brands have stated their preference for Google Maps as well. Think about how much more reach you might be getting with Google Maps.

Since Local Finder is a relatively new tool, Google might have more plans to develop it further in the years to come. Simultaneously, with Google Maps’ massive success, it is not one to be forgotten. The best way to figure out which platform is more suited for your brand is to keep an eye on both and see how it develops in the next few years.

Best yet, you could work on your rankings on both platforms and get the best of both worlds! Contact MIU for more information on how you can boost your SEO ranking today.