Google Analytics 4 (GA4) Overview

By Josh Hiemstra

October 21, 2021

A great way to help with your ongoing digital marketing goals is to have Google Analytics setup on your website.  This allows you to collect and analyze data for users to your website.  As with other software, Google Analytics is always looking to improve their product.  In this post we help you understand this new product. 

The new Google Analytics 4 was announced in October of 2020.  Google helped to explain some reasons for the change in this introductory blog post, particularly highlighting major shifts in both consumer behavior and privacy changes.  The current Universal Analytics (GA3) could not keep pace with these changes.

Google explains that the new GA4 is more intelligent with machine learning at the core.  It is also privacy-centric by design.  Universal Analytics currently relies on cookies for data, where GA4 is designed to adapt to a future with or without cookies.

What else is different between Universal Analytics and GA4 besides the user interface?  The main difference is hit vs event.  Universal Analytics data is recorded as hit types such as page hits, event hits, ecommerce hits, and social interaction hits.  In GA4, this has changed as the data is now recorded as event-based.  Example of this is that in Universal Analytics when a user viewed a page, it is considered a “page view”.  In GA4, this is an event equal to page_view.

Other differences to note:

  • GA4 does not report Category, Action, and Label for events.  When you convert over to GA4, you will have to rethink your event setups.
  • Do not compare Universal Analytics and GA4 pageview data as they are calculated differently.
  • A session is also calculated slightly differently in GA4 vs Universal Analytics as a GA4 session is derived from session_start which is a slight nuance.
  • GA4 processes events that arrive up to 72 hours late.

If you need help setting up Google Analytics on your website, contact Josh (  We can also help with adding GA4 to a site with Universal Analytics.  Our recommendations for companies that are currently using Universal Analytics is to start tracking with GA4.  You are currently able to use both, so this provides an opportunity to start to get comfortable with GA4 while still being able to pull data from Universal Analytics.

Ready to Connect?

Call: (616) 822-3706

About Josh Hiemstra

Josh Hiemstra manages SEO and website maintenance, helping clients improve digital presence and drive strategic results. Josh’s background in medical and automotive engineering has honed his ability to thoughtfully analyze complex data and information. Clients appreciate Josh’s commitment to getting the details right. From complex audits to standard maintenance, they trust his results. Josh earned his Bachelor of Science in Engineering from University of Michigan. At the University of Michigan Josh studied user experience and user interfaces. Josh has a Fundamentals of Digital Marketing certificate, an Advanced Google Analytics certificate, and Google Tag Manager certificate and is also certified as a Six Sigma Black Belt.

You might also be interested in…

Four Pillars of SEO: Keywords for Relevance

In the last post from our Four Pillars of SEO series, we discussed the importance of relevance for search engines and how keywords play a large role in helping search engines know what your website/webpage is about.   The next question you should be asking is “what keywords should I use...

Four Pillars of SEO: Backlinks

In our previous blog post about SEO’s four main pillars, we discussed the importance of backlinks for SEO.  Having other websites link to your website demonstrates to search engines that your website is trustworthy.  Getting other websites to link to your website can be challenging, but...

Four Pillars of SEO: Authority

In our “Four Pillars of SEO” series we have been covering the main concepts used by search engines to decide how to rank websites in organic search. The first pillar was about relevance, and we also looked at how keywords affect relevance. The second pillar was about crawlability and making sure...

SEO Office Hours – December 2021

For the month of December, we attended and are overviewing in this post English Google SEO office-hours from December 31, 2021.  Refer to the Google SEO Office Hours blog series post overview for more information on Google SEO office hours. And, as always, if you’re looking to improve your...

Get actionable marketing insights that will help you grow your business.

Sign up to receive free monthly resources.

Thanks for signing up!