Prepare Your Clients' SEO Strategy for GA4
For digital agencies, it’s a big responsibility to make sure that clients' websites are prepped for anything new and impactful in the tech world. The hot topic of the moment is the Google analytics transition from UA (Universal Analytics) which we know and love, to the less familiar GA4 (Google Analytics 4). Although GA4 has been around for a while, Google will be sunsetting UA on July 1st this year, and all users will be migrated to GA4.
In this webinar, Russ Jeffrey from Duda and WooRank's Jeremy LaDuque discuss the main elements of GA4, how it can improve your analytics as well as the relationship with SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Our experts also answered questions from the audience throughout the session.
If you missed this event, we have recapped those key points from the webinar for you below.
Why GA4? The Evolution of Google
Google has introduced this brand-new reporting platform to address changes in technology, user behaviors and privacy, after all, UA has been around since 2005, a long time in tech years.
The key, high-level points to note about GA4:
- GA4 is an entirely new platform, using a completely different data model, it’s not an upgrade
- Information already collected on UA will not be migrated over to GA4
- GA4 is replacing UA which will cease to operate
- GA4 introduces privacy-safe insights, and predictive AI and tracks the customer journey across devices allowing for web and app
From a technical perspective, Google can now monitor events online as interactions and view more holistically the customer journey, forming more accurate predictions.
GA4 and Duda websites
Duda natively supports both the old Universal Analytics and GA4 so that agencies can get their client sites set up with a GA4 profile, ready for the transition.
At setup, Google walks through some easy workflow steps and provides users with a new ID which can then be pasted into the Duda site settings analytics area. Once the site is republished, data will start to be tracked immediately.
Duda also track events such as Contact form submission, and store purchases and sends this data to GA4 (and currently also to UA).
In addition to this integration, Duda has built its own analytics module – a separate system that is not based on Google Analytics and can run in tandem as an extra reporting resource.
UA vs GA4
The UA product came with canned reports already defined; users didn’t have to think too much about customization especially small businesses not wanting to do anything ground-breaking. GA4 is more sophisticated and requires some thought at the setup stage. This is a chance for businesses to really think about what is important for them to track.
Also, as it is a new interface, everything must be set up from the start again. It is critical for agencies to nail this from the start so that they can accurately report back to clients on the meaningful key metrics.
Exporting Data with GA4
Google has streamlined sending data from GA4 out to BigQuery and Looker Studio (Formerly Google Data Studio), adding even more flexibility for reporting. This is an opportunity for businesses and agencies to rethink exactly what it is that they need from their reporting.
Ideally, this strategy will align with the overall company goals, instead of simply replicating the previous setup in UA. Looker Studio has useful templates that can be leveraged to help in streamlining your analytics.
GA4 and SEO
With the WooRank tool, Duda agencies and users have the functionality to maximize their sites’ keyword ranking and technical SEO right inside the editor.
The WooRank tool integrates with Google Analytics to pull some of the relevant data through as part of its on-page analysis.
GA4 and SEO: Key things to note
- GA4 does not update ranking algorithms
- GA4 is not about SEO best practices
- GA4 WILL help you get more detailed insights for optimization
- Core Web Vitals and user experience are more important than ever
GA4 for Marketers
Google recognizes that the user experience on a website is of the utmost importance and the emphasis on Core Web Vitals is proof. With GA4 agencies and marketers can really understand how customers are engaging with a site and this ultimately will drive conversions.
Russ and Jeremy agreed that developers of website tools will be under pressure in the future to accommodate an increasingly sophisticated requirement for auditing and analysis.
Tips for getting started with GA4
- Get started ASAP to become familiar with GA4 before there’s no turning back
- Examine how you map your current goals
- Start with a measurement strategy
- Identify business goals
- Identify website goals and align with business goals
- Define your KPIs
Top tip: Track the key metrics only – too much information can be distracting, and shift focus from what really needs to be highlighted.
Agencies should be having these conversations with clients now as they are migrating them across to GA4:
- What’s the purpose of your website?
- What are we measuring?
- Is it driving online purchases? Contact form submissions? Calls?
- How are we doing that?
A recommendation from Jeremy is to layer other data that will be meaningful to the customer, for example, POS so that they can see more holistic business and financial insights within their reporting.
By knowing exactly what to track and communicating findings to customers, agencies are demonstrating their ongoing value as a service.
One thing that GA4 does provide straight out of the box is Enhanced Measurement. This is Google’s automatic event tracking feature, requiring no code or tags. Once set up, GA4 will at once start tracking events. Duda also applies extra tracking for events that happen on the website directly.
Report types include acquisition, engagement, monetization and retention. We can now consider the entire customer journey from the very start through to retention with the ability to track on monetization and understand average ROI calculations.
Using Google Tag Manager
Duda doesn’t have a native integration with GTM (Google Tag Manager), but it can be a great way to implement Google Analytics. Many users deploy it this way by just copying and pasting the Tag Manger codes straight into the Duda website.
Using other Analytics tools
There are many other analytics tools out there that can provide the required reporting and that will easily integrate with BigQuery and Looker Studio. Some website agencies favor Adobe Analytics or Matomo, an open-source analytics package. One of the key issues with GA4 is the lack of year-on-year historical data.
GA4 and Privacy
Privacy and data laws and requirements are changing, Google will be removing the third-party cookie and Apple has already dropped a lot of its tracking capability. Going forward, the need to collect first-party data is going to be critical for a lot of small businesses to build their brand. This is why Google is introducing predictive AI into GA4 – it will start using trending data to fill in the gaps of what we don't know to build a predicted reporting profile.
Questions from the audience
In the course of their discussions, Russ and Jeremy answered some great questions from the webinar registrants:
Question: Does the new landing page report give you the same data as the old GA or is it different? I heard it could be very different data.
Answer: Yes, it is going to be different data, it is viewed differently in terms of where the cycle starts, where people are visiting those landing pages from, and how their journey continues.
Question: I'm having issues finding my UTM codes in GA4
Answer: GA4 now follows a flatter reporting structure and users can filter for UTM codes. For example, if you had a UTM medium or UTM campaign attribute that you had assigned there, you can go and filter those reports, just for codes from this source, or from this campaign, based on the UTM parameters that are there.
It can be confusing because, in the old UA, there was a list of what those actual campaigns and sources were at a top level, but now it's under the filtering option as we're adding extra data on to the individual event. It's not a top-level data metric.
Question: Duda has stats on the platform, will Duda be integrating data from GA4?
Answer: Russ answered this one - The short answer is no, not in the short term, maybe in the future.
Question: What are your favourite places to get training on GA4?
Answer: YouTube can be a great resource but be careful that the material is up to date, no matter where you are looking. Duda has a really useful webinar on the topic and Udemy has a full course for you to access. There are a lot of marketing blogs from sites such as Search Engine Land, covering all things GA4. WooRank also has a dedicated GA4 hub, full of helpful blogs and webinars.
Question: Do you think the old GA will flatline from July 1?
Answer: Google is really trying to push people over the line, and they are saying that UA won’t be available after that date. But our speakers have seen historically that Google has actually extended this hard deadline. We’ll have to wait and see!
Jeremy and Russ talked again about the power of the WooRank SEO auditing tool inside Duda, giving instant access to website insights and actionable fixes without having to leave the editor.
In these exciting digital times, marketers’ reporting needs are evolving and WooRank is anticipating this in terms of its future roadmap.
The last word on GA4 - there may be fewer out-of-the-box reports, but Google’s latest Analytics platform can quickly deliver more in-depth insight, giving us a fuller understanding of your users’ behavior.