How to Migrate to Google Analytics 4: A Step-by-step UA to GA4 Migration Guide

How to Migrate to Google Analytics 4: A Step-by-step UA to GA4 Migration Guide
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Running an online business or website without an analytic tool like Google Analytics is the same as going on a road trip without a map or GPS. You end up driving senselessly without reaching your destination. You likely already use Google’s Universal Analytics to track your website or app. But did you know that it will soon become useless?

On July 1, 2023, Google will no longer process data for its standard Universal Analytics, AKA GA3. That’s not all. Google even plans on deleting the historical data from UA later. Fortunately, you still have enough time to migrate to Google Analytics 4, the latest analytic tool from Google.

Get expert advice on Google Analytics 4 migration

What is Google Analytics 4 (GA4)?

Google Analytics 4, or GA4, is the latest version of Google’s popular analytics service that lets you measure website/app traffic and engagement. Most businesses are familiar with Google Analytics and consider it one of the best ways to measure a website’s performance. The latest GA4 comes with many attractive features.
Google Analytics 4 Migration Guide

You can use GA4 to track the website and app using a single account, giving businesses more control over online interactions. Google also adds some quirky new reporting features and insights on online interactions. GA4 uses an entirely new data architecture from its previous versions to measure online traffic.

Apart from that, you can see differences in the navigation between the previous version and GA4. It also means that the existing Google Analytics users may only face issues once they get used to the new system. For instance, finding specific reports in the new GA4 may take time as the navigation differs from Universal Analytics.

Moreover, Google wants users to switch to the new GA4 from the previous version – the GA3 or Universal Analytics. Google will no longer release new features for the old version and will focus solely on the new GA4.

Why Do You Need to Migrate to Google Analytics 4 (GA4)?

Besides having access to the latest analytics platform from Google, GA4 offers some compelling reasons to migrate to it. Some nifty features and new capabilities persuade site owners and marketers to switch to GA4. However, the time restriction is the most significant reason for migrating to GA4.
Why Do You Need to Migrate to Google Analytics 4 (GA4)?

To make more users switch from Universal Analytics to GA4, Google will stop collecting data for the former from July 1. That’s not all. Even the previous data that you have will be accessible for six months after Google makes its transition. In other words, site owners and marketers using Universal Analytics will eventually switch to GA4.

Going indefinitely without tracking your site performance is impractical, as it can lead to unexpected losses. Moreover, you can update your marketing strategies and avoid potential conversion and sales losses with an analytic tool like Google Analytics.

What is New in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)?

The new GA4 brings in a lot of changes to the relatively old Universal Analytics tool. There are significant changes to some of the metrics you are familiar with in the previous GA3 version. Google replaces some metrics with new ones and even discards some metrics altogether in the new GA4 tool. Some new elements you can find in GA4 include the following.
Key Differences Between GA3 (Universal Analytics) and GA4

The new Google Analytics update brings numerous changes to GA4 from the previous GA3 version. GA3, or Universal Analytics, was released in 2005, and Google is ready to launch its new beta version. More importantly, the customer mindset is much different from what it was in 2005, and their buying habits have also changed.

According to Google, GA4 meets all the requirements of a website owner or marketer in 2023 and the years to come. As you can expect, numerous differences exist between the soon-to-be outdated Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4.

Significance of Google Analytics 4
You will see numerous updates in GA4; some of the old features get a new update in the latest version. Following are the critical differences between Universal Analytics and GA4.
Migrate your website from Universal Analytics to GA4 now

Steps to Migrate to Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

If you have previous experience using Universal Analytics, you know that the Google Analytics tool comes with a steep learning curve. GA4 is similar in this aspect, and we’d be lying if we said that the Google Analytics 4 migration is an easy task that anyone can do.

The truth is that Google Analytics 4 migration is not easy, and your best bet is to hire an expert like Rainmaker.UNO to take care of the migration. There are so many details in the GA4 migration process that it is easy to miss a few.

Unless you have the expertise for the Google Analytics 4 migration, leaving it to an expert is better. But, if you want to migrate to GA4 by yourself, here are the steps you need to follow to do the same.

Steps to Migrate to Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

Step 1: Create and Launch Your GA4 Property

The first thing you must do for an efficient GA4 migration is to create and launch your new GA4 properties. A property can be a website, a mobile app, a blog, and so on, as long as it is associated with a unique tracking ID.

This step is vital because your GA4 property can start tracking after you create and launch it. You will likely be fine if you complete the GA4 property with the July 1 timeline in mind. Once you make the property, you can add the tracking tag for the new GA4 to your website.

After adding the tag, you must watch it for the next couple of days to ensure you are getting the relevant traffic data.

Pro Tip: You can quickly add the new GA4 tracking tag using Google Tag Manager.

Step 2: Create a List of Key Items

One of the most important things to note about Google Analytics 4 migration is that it does not let you inherit tracking items. For instance, if you have set goals or events for properties in Universal Analytics, you can not automatically inherit them to your new analytic properties.
Migrating to Google Analytics 4

Goals, events, content grouping, referral exclusions, etc., are some standard tracking items you use in Google Analytics. The list of critical things can vary slightly from one business to another. You must evaluate the list and ensure it aligns with your goals first.

It is worth noting that the new GA4 does not use reporting views. So, the only way to transfer these goals would be to list and recreate them all in the new GA4 properties. GA4 raises the limit to 30 conversions per property instead of 20 goals per reporting view in Universal Analytics

Pro Tip: Ensure to mark your "non-event" goals, such as destination-based goals, to facilitate changes to how you want to track them.

Step 3: Migrate Individual Items to GA4

Now that you have the list of items you want to migrate to GA4, you can start the migration process. When migrating to Google Analytics 4, you must individually import each item. Depending on the items you wish to relocate, it can be lengthy.

Moreover, the migration of each item may pose some unique challenges. Here are some quick tips for migrating some everyday items in GA4.

Conversions (Goals)

One of the first differences between Universal Analytics and GA4 is that Goals are now called Conversions. Additionally, all goals in GA4 depend on specific events. Hence, starting the migration with your event-based goals in the UA is best, as they are more similar to conversions in GA4.

After setting up the GA4 events and marking them as conversions, you can start migrating your destination-based and engagement goals. You may need some coding to add your previous destination-based goals in UA. As for engagement-based plans, you must create a GA4 audience, which we will discuss later.


Events in Google Analytics 4 are similar to the UA setup. However, you may have to set up the tags for the new GA4 goals. Fortunately, GA4 can automatically add some of your previous events in UA, such as scroll depth.

It would be best if you made it a point to check your automated goals first. All you have to do is go to the events section under Configure, and you can find the computerized plans for specific GA4 properties. The automation ensures that you don’t have to go through the trouble of creating the same event a second time.

eCommerce Website Tracking
E-commerce tracking is crucial for an online business, and moving it from UA to GA4 is a priority. According to Google, eCommerce tracking on GA4 works best using a separate set of tags. Using Google Tag Manager can come in handy in this situation and make the process significantly faster.

Content Groupings

You can create a content grouping on UA directly using the interface. With GA4, you must use page tagging to set up content groups. The only problem with this method is that it is more time-consuming in the beginning stages. Again, using Google tag Manager can help you simplify the process and save you significant time. dapibus leo.

Referral Exclusions

GA4 retains referral exclusions from GA3 but goes by a different name. Moreover, you would have to move down from the admin navigation level. You can add referral exclusions from the GA4 property admin menu.

From the admin menu, select Data streams and then your website URL. After that, you can select the Additional Settings from where you can access the More Tagging Settings. To finish the setup, click on Configure Your Domains, from where you can enter the domains you want to track.

Custom Dimensions and Metrics

You can set up custom dimensions and metrics with a two-step process involving the interface and code. The good news is that you can migrate your custom dimensions and metrics to GA4. However, you must still use the GA4 property interface to set up custom dimensions and metrics.


Another critical part of the Google Analytics 4 migration is the audience, especially regarding advertising purposes. It is also vital in the conversions set up in the new GA4. You must recreate the audience list in GA4 and hire an expert like Rainmaker.UNO saves you a lot of time. It is also worth noting that the terminology and method of creating an audience in GA4 differ from Universal Analytics.
Product Link Extensions

When migrating to Google Analytics 4, you must reconnect product links with your new GA4 property. On the bright side, you can retain your existing UA product links and connect them to GA4. It is also worth noting that Product Links in GA4 appear on admin navigation. You can select the Google Products you wish to use, such as Google Ads, and link them with your GA4 property.

Note: The July 1 timeline is crucial to ensure that you can keep on tracking the performance of your website/app. Each item mentioned above requires specialized tracking, and GA3 can only support you until July 1, 2023.

Step 4: Check Your List

You have set up the list of items you wish to track using Google Analytics 4. The next step is double-checking whether the list of things you monitor covers everything you need. Remember that the items you wish to track may vary depending on your goals and intentions.

Moreover, you should check and see if GA4 is providing you with relevant data to evaluate eCommerce, conversions, etc. If you find the tracking inaccurate or face difficulty obtaining data, you must troubleshoot and fix the issue.

Create a customized migration list to migrate your website from UA to GA4

Step 5: Fix a Date For Complete Google Analytics 4 Migration

Using different sources of information can be a recipe for disaster, especially regarding data-based decisions. The last thing you want to do is use both UA and GA4 for measuring and optimizing your website performance. Hence, you must fix a date on when you intend to complete the Google Analytics 4 migration. 

Ideally, you need year-long data on GA4 to get the best results. Moreover, the data and its classification in UA and GA4 are very different, so you can not compare the data accurately. The only viable option is to switch entirely to GA4 at the earliest and use it as your only source of analytic information. 

Step 6: Archive Universal Analytics Data

With Google intending to delete all existing UA data on January 1, 2024, organizations have fewer options than to switch to GA4. It also means you should archive your Universal Analytics data before it’s too late.

To ensure efficient archiving of the necessary data, you must first analyze and find the data your organization regularly uses. Besides that, consider the frequency at which you use specific data sets and match your data usage habits.

Once you holistically analyze your data requirements, you can easily find out what UA data you must archive. You can use this data at later stages or even compare it with the data you obtain using the new Google Analytics 4 tool.

How Long Does it Take to Switch From UA to GA4?

The Google Analytics 4 migration process is different for all organizations or websites. The time for completing GA4 migration depends primarily on the website or app architecture and your existing UA. Technically, you can access valuable data from GA4 just 24 hours after installing the tag.

However, you can only use GA4 to its full potential. For one thing, Universal Analytics and GA4 have many different metrics, and even their tracking methods can vary. It means the initial setup of GA4 will be vital in how well you can use it for analytic purposes.

Moreover, you may have to wait six months or over a year before using GA4 as the source of truth. The sooner you implement GA4, the sooner you can access valuable analytic data from it and reap its full benefits.

The fact that you can use GA4 with your existing technology roadmap can help you switch from UA to GA4 slightly faster. You can also implement GA4 in alignment with the launch process of your new software solution or site redesign.

The actual transfer of data may take only minutes and install GA4. However, obtaining accurate and timely data from GA4 can take some time. If you can accurately follow the steps above, it is easy to implement Google Analytics 4 migration.

The key remains to start your Google Analytics 4 migration immediately. By implementing GA4 earlier, you can put yourself ahead of the game and make it the source of truth at the earliest.

Benefits of Using GA4 for Tracking

Google Analytics 4 brings in some significant updates to the analytics tool from Google. You can see numerous new changes and updates in GA4, including some excellent benefits. Some of the most promising benefits of using GA4 tracking are as follows.
Major Challenges With Using GA4 for Tracking
With GA4 being such a significant update, you will encounter some challenges when implementing Google Analytics 4. Some crucial challenges you should prepare yourself for while using GA4 for tracking are as follows.

Different Data Model and Missing Metrics

It is no secret that GA4 uses a brand-new data model from Universal Analytics. For instance, GA4 uses a measurement model exclusively based on events instead of sessions and pageviews in Universal Analytics. Such drastic differences may make it seem like you need metrics. But once you get used to the system, you should have no problem finding the relevant metrics.

Missing Standard Report

One of the most common features organizations often use in Universal Analytics is the Standard Report. However, in Google Analytics 4, you will notice that the Standard Report feature is missing. GA4 is more focused on collecting big data, and the analysis happens outside it. Moreover, the reports you get are limited or contain bulk data.

Complex Conversion Tracking

Although not always the case, some basic conversion tracking is more complex in GA4. For instance, operations like tracking successful submissions on Google Analytics 4 are significantly more complex than Universal Analytics. However, several other functions, like monitoring external link clicks and scrolls, are much more accessible in GA4.

EU's Google Privacy Concerns

It is no secret that Google faced challenges in complying with the EU’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), and we are still waiting to see a fix. With concerns over data privacy in the digital world, we have yet to see how GA4 fairs in this aspect.

Tips to Back Up Your Data from Universal Analytics (UA)

We know that backing up data from Universal Analytics takes work. We already discussed the essential steps you must follow to ensure a seamless Google Analytics 4 migration. Here are some expert tips to efficiently back up data from Universal Analytics.
Best Practices When Using GA4
You must use the best practices to get the best out of the new Google Analytics 4 tool. However, identifying the best practices in GA4 can take time as you slowly familiarize yourself with the system. Fortunately, our experts can make this easier for you. Here are some of the best practices you can follow while using GA4.
Learn more best practices for GA4 from our SEO experts

Wrapping Up

Google Analytics 4 brings promising new features to help organizations better track their websites and apps. More importantly, with the strict timeline set up by Google for GA4 migration and deleting historical UA data, it is urgent to switch from UA to GA4.

While this article provides a comprehensive guide to switching from UA to GA4, it is challenging. To ensure an efficient and accurate Google Analytics 4 migration, you need the help of an SEO service provider like Rainmaker.UNO.

Our experts can systematically migrate your website to Google Analytics 4 and ensure easy tracking of its performance. We can even ensure that your favorite tracking metrics are readily available. By doing so, you can save valuable time. More importantly, we ensure the accurate tracking of your websites and apps.

Google Analytics 4 Migration Guide - Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

Google Analytics 4, or GA4, is the latest analytics tool from Google. It is a standalone product from its predecessor, GA3 or Universal Analytics. As a completely new platform, GA4 utilizes even-based data to track your websites and apps centrally. GA4 comes with many recent changes and updates entirely new from Universal Analytics.
Ideally, you should migrate to Google Analytics 4 as soon as possible. Google will no longer process data for Universal Analytics or GA3 starting on July 1, 2023. Hence, you must switch from GA3 to GA4 before this date to continue tracking your website. An SEO expert like Rainmaker.UNO can help you efficiently migrate to GA4 with minimal time.
GA4 is much different from Universal Analytics, and you may need help using all information in UA. However, you can safely save the data from UA and use it whenever necessary. It is worth noting that Google plans to delete historical UA data after January 1, 2024, after which all your data will be lost.
Yes, if you wish to keep tracking your website’s performance and ranking on Google, you must migrate to GA4. Google plans to stop data processing for Universal Analytics soon, eventually deleting historical UA data. Hence, UA will likely become obsolete soon, and you need to switch to GA4 ASAP.
Google Analytics 4 is a new platform from UA with several new updates and additions. You may only find some of the features and capabilities you love in UA in the new tool. GA4 focuses on providing you with more valuable data which you can effectively use to analyze and optimize your website or app’s performance.
The new GA4 comes with a lot of new features and capabilities. Some of the significant new updates in GA4 include the ability to track new metrics for understanding user behavior better and advanced conversion tracking. Rainmaker.UNO can help you migrate to Google Analytics 4 and guide you to better follow your website’s performance using GA4.
There are numerous differences between GA3 (Universal Analytics) and GA4. However, the most compelling difference between the two analytic tools is that GA4 focuses mainly on providing more valuable data. However, many features in UA are absent or renamed in GA4, and you may need some time to get used to the new system.
Currently, you can use both GA3 and GA4 for your website or app simultaneously. However, Google will stop processing data for the former starting on July 1, 2023. It means you may no longer be able to use GA3 or UA for your website after this date. Moreover, Google will delete historical UA data by the end of this year.
You can migrate your website to Google Analytics 4 by following the steps discussed in this article. However, GA4 migration can be a complex task depending on your website, and you may need the help of an expert. Rainmaker.UNO can help you safely migrate your website to GA4 and efficiently track your website’s performance and engagements.
The migration itself from UA to GA4 is relatively quick. However, systematically moving to GA4 can take time and vary depending on your website and the data you wish to migrate. Our experts can help give you an accurate timeline for the migration and help you set up all aspects of GA4 that you require for your business.
Whether GA4 is better than Universal Analytics remains to be answered. GA4 has some new and advanced capabilities for tracking website performance and assessing user behavior. However, it is still too early to say whether GA4 is better than its predecessor UA and only time will answer this question.
Google Analytics 4 offers several features for better tracking your website or app. It has advanced capabilities to follow the customer journey better and even offers enhanced user engagement tracking. Besides that, you get several other benefits by using Google Analytics 4 for monitoring, and we have discussed them in the article above.
Google Analytics 4 has a steep learning curve, much like its predecessor Universal Analytics. It is relatively easy to use r navigate through Google Analytics 4. However, if you are new to GA4, it will take some time to get used to it. The experts at Rainmaker.UNO can make this easier and help you with the initial setup.
Google Analytics 4 has yet to show how well it complies with privacy compliances like the EU’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). However, it is too early to say whether there are any viable security concerns in the new Google Analytics 4 tool. In the future, you can expect more information on how well security works in GA4.
Although you can carry out Google Analytics 4 migration using the guide above, it is always better to seek expert help. Depending on the complexity of your website, it can be challenging to migrate to GA4. Moreover, an expert like Rainmaker.UNO can ensure an error-free and time-efficient GA4 migration for your website.