Best Practice

Attention Small Business Owners: Google Analytics Created a Challenge To Continue Analyzing Two Important Growth Metrics

Feeling lost with the Google Analytics transition from Universal to GA4? You're not alone.

Many website owners did not transition to the Google Analytics GA4 (GA4) version manually, meaning during the month of May through the first week of July, Google automatically transitioned websites to GA4.

The challenge arose when Google moved from the traditional Google Analytics Universal to GA4. This shift left many businesses struggling with analyzing yearly comparison and trend data.

When Google introduced the GA4 version, it wasn't merely an update; it was an entirely new product. In the first week of July, Google Analytics ceased collecting data, and GA4 began its collection. Consequently, businesses faced challenges in viewing and analyzing their website visitor data during this transition period.

Understanding Google Analytics and Its Scope

There are nearly 38 million websites using Google Analytics. Google Analytics is more than just a digital analytics software. At its essence, it meticulously tracks and reports website traffic, providing a lens into the digital heartbeat of a business. Integrated seamlessly with advertising platforms, Google Analytics offers an expansive view of a website's metrics. It becomes an indispensable tool for understanding the efficacy of various channels in driving traffic to a site. Whether it's through social media, press articles, industry directories, or other sources, Google Analytics illuminates the pathways that visitors take, helping businesses to refine strategies and optimize their online presence. For any business keen on decoding the digital puzzle, Google Analytics is an important key.

The Advent of GA4

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) was introduced mid October 2020, as the next iteration of the Google Analytics platform. Unlike a mere upgrade, GA4 is a new tool with a revamped data model, offering more advanced tracking and analytical features. Universal interactions were captured in many different hit types such as page views, transactions, and social interactions. In GA4 by contrast, every interaction is captured as an event. Events existed in UA as well; with an associated category, action, and label; but these classifications do not exist in GA4. Yes, it is kind of confusing at first.  

The Reluctance to Shift

Most conversations I've had with small business is that while GA4 brought a slew of new capabilities, many businesses, especially mid sized to small businesses, did not proactively make the switch due to priorities and the belief Google will provide a transition.  

The Automatic Transition and Its Implications

Since the introduction of GA4, Google consistently signaled the eventual sunsetting of Universal. The shift began to materialize in spring 2023. Starting in May and culminating in the first week of July, Google initiated an automatic transition of accounts to the GA4 property. This means that website owners who accessed their Google Analytics Universal account post the first week of July would find their data ending that week and going to zero in the reports. To continue the data analysis beyond that point, they would need to navigate to the new GA4 property that was automatically set up for them, which does not have visitor prior to the automatic creation of the new GA4 property, i.e. the data gap, data in two different tools.  

Navigating the Data Discontinuity Dilemma

The bifurcation of data across two tools presented an unforeseen challenge for small businesses. The previously straightforward task of deriving year-over-year or 12-month trend analyzes - crucial components of website metric evaluations - became significantly more intricate. In order to bridge this data divide and achieve a holistic perspective, businesses were compelled to extract data from both Universal and GA4. This data needed to be imported into platforms like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. Careful attention was required to prevent data overlaps or missing gaps, after which the merged data could be translated into visual, comprehensible results.

The Imperative to Retrieve Universal Analytics Data is NOW!

To add some urgency, Google has announced that access to Universal Analytics will cease after July 2024. This gives businesses a restricted time frame to extract historical data for any annual analysis in the upcoming year. At a minimum, businesses should retrieve the last 18 months of visitor data for year-over-year comparisons and seasonal trend analyses. These two types of annual metrics form the foundation of digital marketing strategies, especially Search Engine Optimization (SEO) initiatives and Paid-Per-Click (PPC) advertising campaigns.

AI’s LLM - Generative AI 

Just to get the terminology out of the way;  LLM stands for Large Language Models, which are the models used to drive Generative AI - i.e. chatbots. By now, many businesses are familiar with groundbreaking AI models such as OpenAI's ChatGPT, Bard, Microsoft Bing's integration of ChatGPT, and Google's recent unveiling of the Search Generative Experience (SGE) in their Search Labs. I've had the opportunity to utilize all these platforms - their prowess is undeniable. The emergence of these generative AI tools is poised to revolutionize marketing, with SEO being a prime target. In this dynamic landscape, equipping your business with intelligent dashboards becomes paramount. These dashboards offer invaluable insights across varied marketing platforms, from AI-powered search engines to social media, advertising channels, email campaigns, and industry-specific platforms.

Simplifying the Complexity with

In the face of these challenges, small business owners require a more intuitive solution, one that does away with the complexities of data extraction, merging, and analysis. The data should not only be consolidated but also presented in easily digestible formats. That's where comes into play. By connecting your Universal and GA4 accounts to, business owners are presented with a set of comprehensive and intelligent dashboards. Gone are the days of manually merging data sets. With, you get a seamless blend of Universal and GA4 data, visualized in coherent charts and graphs designed with the business owner in mind.

In Summary

The transition from Google's Universal Analytics to GA4 has been a challenging journey for many, especially small business owners already overwhelmed with the intricacies of digital analytics. But with tools like, navigating this transition becomes more manageable. By streamlining data from both Universal and GA4, businesses can retain historical insights and continue to derive valuable year-over-year comparisons, ensuring their marketing strategies remain informed and effective. Remember, in the digital age, it's not just about collecting data, but how you use it that sets you apart.

Preston Derrick