A Guide to GA4 Analytics vs Universal Analytics
SEO Fundamentals

A Guide to GA4 Analytics vs Universal Analytics

Introduction to Google Analytics 4

It has never been easy to accept change. As we all know, Google has made it clear that we must migrate to Google Analytics 4. Of course, this is true only if we continue using their tool of analytics.

GA4 comes with some new advantages and is also free to use. It obviously has some missing features when compared to Universal Analytics. Google has promised quick developments in GA4 and we believe, in around 6 months, a lot of issues that we are currently facing will be resolved.

Let us check out some of the significant differences between Google Analytics and Universal Analytics so that you know what is in store for you.

Using Google Analytics vs. Universal Analytics

GA4 Analytics vs Universal Analytics

Looking around the new GA4, you notice that many things have changed. For starters, all the reports you are used to seeing are gone.

Let us look at the core differences between GA4 and Universal Analytics:

GA4 does not track sessions or page views but instead tracks events:

With the new google analytics, you can now choose “events” that are most important for your business.

Unlike Universal Analytics, GA4 fully supports cross-platform reporting and cross-device:

The new GA4 will help you know how your users interact with your website or app. Thus, it provides a clearer picture of your marketing efforts.

Unlike Universal Analytics, GA4 uses AI and leverages automation to give predictive analytics:

Universal Analytics reported events that have already occurred; however, companies can now find new customers, forecast, etc., with the introduction of GA4.

Here are some more specific changes between them that will help you step in the right direction.

#1 The event-based model of GA4 helps to track more helpful information

GA4 does not track pageviews or sessions but instead tracks events. To put it in simple terms, you can tell Google exactly what you want to track. You can even accurately track complex buyer paths.

For instance, in universal google analytics for website, you will get the report of who visited your website. However, in GA4 you will get details about attributes of purchase or product dimensions. 

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#2 The search bar of GA4 provides faster and more detailed insights

Universal analytics helped you search only a few complicated queries but mostly helped you find pre-generated reports. However, the search bar at the top of the GA4 plays an entirely different game. When you get used to the new platform, the search bar GA4 will be your new best friend!

For instance, if you want to know how many new visitors you had this week on your website, just ask…

You will get the answer right in the search results. You do not have to click anywhere to know about the data. The search results also have the feature of Google Support Documentation. Thus, you can easily get guidance if you face trouble finishing a task. It might seem like a small change, but it will prove incredibly useful in the long run.

#3 The customizable options in GA4 are amazing 

Universal Analytics provided some customizable options such as metrics, dimensions, events, or creating a limited number of custom reports. With GA4, you can do so much more!

First and foremost, you can create complicated events that will help track some incredibly specific actions on your website.

For instance, you want to know when your users read a specific blog, add a specific shoe color to their cart, or click your ad. You can do that by setting up a new event or modifying current events.

#4 It is entirely up to you how complicated or easy GA4 is for you

The event-based data of Google Analytics 4 means you can track the metrics that matter the most for your company. You also have the option to edit a current event, create new events, copy a current event, or create a totally new event.

You can use measurement protocol to collect more information from internet-connected devices (like a kiosk or a POS) if you have the resources (such as a developer) and send that information to GA. This activity ties online behavior with offline behavior and thus estimates interaction on both the client and server sides.

To gain even more insight into your business, export data to BigQuery, combine it with other data and use SQL queries. In Universal Analytics, many of these features were only available to paid enterprise users.

However, if you do not want to get into complicated stuff and keep everything simple, you can create some simple events to gather the information you need. If you don’t know how to start off page SEO, then click here to read our The Complete Guide To Off-Page SEO.

#5 Predictive insights help you see into the future

Universal Analytics only helped in tracking data of the past. With Google Analytics 4, you can predict future behavior as Google allows businesses to see into the future by machine learning.

For example, it can estimate when it is likely that a consumer will make a purchase on your website or your revenue for the next 28 days. These categories are still a bit limited, but we are guessing that Google will add more such categories over time.

In addition to creating predictive audiences, predictive metrics can also be used to identify people likely to make a purchase based on their behavior.

What are the additional benefits of GA4?

Here is Google’s opinion on the matter:

  1. GA4 can “de-duplicate, unify, and measure” user interaction data. As a result, we gain a better understanding of how users behave.
  2. As it relates to privacy, the new property is easily adaptable to the changing environment.
  3. Through machine learning, GA4 reveals intelligent business insights.
  4. It helps to achieve goals by taking effective action on your data.

As of July 1, 2023, Universal Analytics will stop processing hits and you have to get up and fully running with GA4.


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