Upgrading Google Analytics to GA4

Google Analytics is a free and comprehensive website analytics tool available to anyone with a website, regardless of what specific website platform/CMS you use for your small business site. On top of gathering website visitor data like how many unique visitors come to your site each month, how long they stay on your site, how many pages they typically visit, and what led them to your website, you can enhance your online marketing by setting up Google goals, connecting your Google Ads account to your Google Analytics account, and connecting your Search Console account to your Google Analytics account. In late 2020, Google Analytics rolled out an upgrade to their tracking code called GA4. GA4 tracking adds additional enhancements and data insights that can prove valuable to many small businesses. Let’s take a look at how to upgrade to GA4 Tracking.

How to Upgrade to GA4 Tracking in Google Analytics

How to Upgrade to GA4 Tracking in Google Analytics

Assuming you’ve already set up a Google Analytics account and simply need to upgrade the existing analytics tracking code you are already using, sign into your Google Analytics account to begin. Then click on the Admin gear icon at the bottom of the left-hand sidebar. Next, in the second column called Property, click on the tab called GA4 Setup Assistant.

GA4 Set Up Assistant

You’ll see a note that says you’re currently using Google’s Universal Analytics tracking, and that your Universal tracking remains unchanged. You can also read more about GA4 tracking at Google’s help link. Click the blue Get Started button to launch the GA4 wizard.

Google Analytics GA4 Set Up Wizard

The pop-up window explains what the wizard will do. After reading, click on the blue Create Property button.

Upgrade to a GA4 Property inside Google Analytics account

You have now successfully connected your existing Google Analytics tracking to the upgraded GA4 tracking. You can see that your status is “Connected”, your GA4 property name (i.e. your website URL) and ID, and a button to disconnect your property.

Google Analytics Upgraded GA4 Property Settings

Additional GA4 Tracking Set Up Steps

To explore and continue to setup your new, upgraded GA4 tracking, click the blue See your GA4 Property button.

A new tab will open. On this page, you can configure different data settings including activating Google Signals, linking your Google Ads account, defining audiences, setting up conversions, and more.

Configure your new Google Analytics 4 property

Activate Google Signals and define audiences

Adding a GA4 Data Stream

Either from the GA4 configuration page or from the Property column in the Admin view, you can access the Data Streams tab. Right after upgrading to GA4 tracking, you’ll likely see that Google is reporting no data in the past 48 hours. Click the right arrow to view data stream details.

GA4 Data Stream

Note the new measurement ID number on the top right. Enhanced measurements will be turned on by default. You’ll see the list of interactions your upgraded GA4 tracking will begin measuring, as well.

Upgraded GA4 tracking web stream details

Beneath that, you’ll see the Tagging Instructions section. You can choose between Add New On-Page Tag and Use Existing On Page tag. Click the down arrows to expand the directions.

Add new GA4 on-page tag

Upgrade to GA4 tracking using existing on-page tag

I recommend first following the Google Analytics instructions under the Use Existing On-Page Tag section to see if you need to take further steps. Depending on what tracking code you already have on your website, you might not need to do anything more. When I followed the instructions listed there, it showed me that my newly-created measurement ID number had already been automatically added to my Google Analytics account due to following the GA4 Setup Wizard steps.

Because there is a delay in Google Analytics reporting, it took until the next day to begin seeing data in this new Web Stream. Also the next day, I could see that my Google Analytics dashboard looked a lot different.

An Upgrade to GA4 Tracking Changes your Google Analytics Dashboard

Explaining all about the new Google Analytics dashboard you get once you’ve upgraded to GA4 tracking is a blog post on its own. So here I’ll just briefly say that you have a fresh look and layout as well as some additional data points than before, and you can see how the new dashboard relates to the new events automatically being tracked thanks to the upgraded GA4 tracking.

Here are a couple glimpses of what you see.

New GA4 Google Analytics home page

GA4 Google Analytics reporting of Events

Each section/box on your Google Analytics dashboard main page has a link to click for a more detailed look. Here’s what the new Events deeper dive looks like.

GA4 Events detailed analytics view

GA4 tracking Events data breakdown

As more days pass, the more data will be collected. And the more data that’s collected means more opportunities to understand more about your site visitors thanks to the upgraded GA4 Google Analytics tracking code.



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