You may have heard that Google has decided to roll out an entirely new analytics property called Google Analytics 4 (GA4). This is not a standard upgrade – users will find an entirely new system to track website and app activities. Transitioning to GA4 from Universal Analytics will take more than the flick of a switch. Here’s what home builders need to know about these changes.
In a statement, Google has said, “On July 1, 2023, standard Universal Analytics properties will no longer process data. You'll be able to see your Universal Analytics reports for a period of time after July 1, 2023. However, new data will only flow into Google Analytics 4 properties.”
Essentially, what this means is that anyone who wishes to continue collecting website data through Google Analytics after the deprecation date will need to have a GA4 property configured.
For our builders, BDX is recommending switching to GA4 as soon as possible and at a minimum, the transition needs to be completed and fully operational by January 1, 2023 to have at least 6 months historical data by the time the deprecation date hits.
A few key things to know about the new GA4:
- Google is not allowing anyone to stay on the current property, so all websites will have to do this migration eventually.
- Google created GA4 to be more focused on e-commerce sites so that websites can track online sales better. Many homebuilders have been moving in this direction by adding transactional features like hold a lot deposits to their websites. Some builders are planning to complete entire new home purchases online so tracking and optimization becomes critical.
- The biggest change is that certain labels and terms we use now will be different. For example, Bounce Rate no longer will exist – it’s now “Engagement Rate”. Engagement rate percentage is the opposite of bounce rate percentage. So, if your website’s average bounce rate is 40%, your engagement rate would be 60%.
- An engaged session is defined as a user that stays for more than 10 seconds, attempts a conversion event, or looks at two or more pages
Changes To Traffic Data
Traffic data (users, sessions, etc…) will begin flowing in immediately after a GA4 property is created, but the process is far from over. If you want reliable data in GA4 you need to test the traffic data in this property against your Universal Analytics data. This is where having an expert on your side can be a real advantage. BDX has been working with home builders to successfully complete this transition.
Why it’s not just a flip of the switch? Most UA properties are 5-10 years old and have seen a variety of property managers and agencies that have implemented custom settings that will not translate to GA4. Some of our SEO clients noticed very large traffic discrepancies between their GA4 and UA properties after allowing them to run alongside each other for a month – all of these instances required investigation and reconciliation from an expert.
Updates To Conversion Data
Despite Google offering the ability to link a new GA4 property to a UA property, any conversion tracking models that are in place in UA will NOT translate over to GA4. If you want to track conversions (form fills, RMIs, click to email, click to call, etc…) on your website with GA4 you will need to create new goals in that platform.
More often than not, these goals will require a GTM (Google Tag Manager) expert to configure tags and triggers that allow these conversions to “fire.” Without the proper GTM configuration, these new goals will not collect data!
Don’t Be Overwhelmed -- BDX Can Help!
If you aren’t sure where to start, we can help! We can set up your GA4 property with conversions for a one time fee, or discuss ongoing SEO that will help keep you in the search while google continues to make changes, we can help you stay on top of it. We have already worked with our existing SEO clients to implement these changes – let us put our experience to work for you – email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
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