It's All Just Marketing: Episode 3

The Transition to GA4


In this episode of It’s All Just Marketing, Helium SEO’s CEO, Tim Warren and Senior SEO Team Lead, Eric Kelly talk about GA4: What is GA4 and what we need to know. They discuss how cookie data and privacy laws are driving the shift to GA4 and the changes included such as sidebar updates and improved attribution modeling. Eric also provides excellent recommendations on monitoring critical functions of GA4. If you’d like to talk with Eric Kelly further, you can email him at

Tim and Eric draw from their years of experience in digital marketing to provide valuable insights and practical tips on how to create successful marketing campaigns in today’s ever changing digital world. Whether you’re a seasoned marketer or just starting out, It’s All Just Marketing, provides you with the information you need to be successful. Thanks for listening!

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Tim Warren: Hi guys. Welcome back to the podcast. This is The It’s All Just Marketing podcast. I’m your host, Tim Warren. And today, back by popular request. Eric Kelly. Thanks for coming back on the podcast.

Eric Kelly: Yeah, thanks for having me.

Tim Warren: Absolutely. 

Eric Kelly: Appreciate it. Last time it was a lot of fun, so. 

Tim Warren: Oh man. It was great. Lots of great feedback. I had a great time. I learned a lot. I remember the ICE score, right? The how important is this fix. Which is the most heavily weighted. Right Weighted twice? What’s the confidence we can fix it and then what’s the ease of implementing this? So, I thought you talked about it from a technical engineering standpoint with search. But man, I think that applies to a lot of things in marketing, right? Okay, I’m going to do this marketing initiative, but before I decide to spend time on this, let me take it through the Ice score. How important would this be if it worked? Right. How confident I’m that this would work and what would be the ease of implementing this thing? Right. So I learned a lot. That was really, really cool.

Eric Kelly: Yeah. And once you get into it, once you start seeing it every day, it worms its way into your everyday life.

Tim Warren: Yeah, I’m gonna start using that for a lot of things, even what chores I do and, you know, parenting. It could even be, you know, what impact is this really going to have? So it’ll be great. So, Eric, we’ve worked together for years. We know each other well. You run the technical and engineering teams at Helium, and one of the big, big things happening right now is Ga4, Google Analytics four and their sunsetting Universal Analytics, which, you know, I grew up on, if you will, in the world of SEO. I’m used to that, Orange and Blue Report, right? I’ve seen those trend lines many, many times. So I’m a little sad that’s going away. It’s like a favorite restaurant that’s going out of business or something. But I know they’re making changes at Ga4 for a reason, right? They’re trying to improve and make it better. Now, I know that you have entire people on your team dedicated to Ga4 for clients, and so today I really wanted to pick your brain for people listening about what is ga4, Why are they doing it? What are the things we need to know? What are important things that we need to be aware of? Because I think this is on a lot of people’s minds with with UA. Universal analytics old sunsetting in July, right? Yep.

Eric Kelly: It’s sunsetting in July and then data is being removed in September. So it’s big push right now. And Google is being very alarmist with its notes. With its banners.

Tim Warren: Yes.

Eric Kelly: Big red banners. Big countdown clocks.

Tim Warren: I’ve seen that. Yeah. It’s like, are you sure you don’t want to do a ga4 right now? I’m like, Yes, click. I’m trying to run a client meeting. Yeah.

Eric Kelly: Don’t want to do it now. And even when you have it set up to everything that you need, it’s just like it’s not set up fully. It’s interesting. It gives the option to import data through Big Query, set up other integrations that 90% of people never used in universal Analytics.

Tim Warren: Got it.

Eric Kelly: And so unless you know where to expand the right file and check off that you don’t want it, you’re going to get that red banner.

Tim Warren: Got it. All right. So I have a list of questions I wanted to ask you because this is on everyone’s mind. And this is important, right?  I met with a potential client the other day and they had no conversion set up on their analytics. Right. And so one thing I told them, with their current provider, they’re in the automotive space with our automotive agency called Venture that we own. And I told them, I said, if you have no conversion set up, you can’t optimize because there’s no target to shoot for. So you don’t know whether your arrow is close or further. You can’t improve, right? You’re just shooting arrows. And I wonder how it’s doing. Right? And so I told them, I said, if you don’t set up analytics correctly, you can’t really know what your efforts are driving. Right? So for this auto dealer I was looking at, look, okay, we have more traffic, but what happened? Conversions? No idea. Hey, how good are these ads? No idea. And so analytics really does matter with marketing. It matters a lot. And it matters how you set it up, because if you are tracking the wrong things, you get really false positives or false negatives. So I know this is on a lot of people’s minds, a lot of marketers listening probably really care or concerned about ga4 and the old data going away. So the first question I want to ask you, Eric, is why are they doing this? Why are they setting up ga4? Why are they sunsetting UA? Why not just leave it there and let people use it? Why are they forcing everyone to go to Ga4?

Eric Kelly: It’s the newest step forward. It’s the bright and shiny tool that Google has, right? But a lot of what’s driving it is cookie data. It’s personal data, anonymizing it with privacy laws. Coming up, how we interact, how we store data. A big part of this move is the data and the privacy laws over in Europe, California Privacy Act, all the data that is coming in needs to be anonymized. It needs to be can’t be tied to an individual person. It can’t be used for direct marketing and a lot of universal analytics you could install an ID or you could track. A Google ID through multiple sessions, you could track a very unique person very, very closely.

Tim Warren: Right.

Eric Kelly: So taking that step back and doing more of a model data set or removing the unique identifiers personal identifiers is one of the big steps for Ga4.

Tim Warren: And so if I’m understanding Ga4 is for Google to cover themselves legally to make sure that that individuals are not tracked so closely.

Eric Kelly: Yeah, a big portion of it.

Tim Warren: Got it.

Eric Kelly: There’s also a new attribution models. There’s new events, ways that they can track automatically that used to need to very, very specific coding or set up by the user. A lot of that is being brought into Ga4 and it just doesn’t work with the way Universal Analytics was set up.

Tim Warren: Right.

Eric Kelly: So there’s a little bit of here and there.

Tim Warren: Okay. So do you see Ga4 on the legal side making sure that Google is checking all the boxes in Europe and in California and all of the data privacy acts? That makes sense to me, right? Google doesn’t want to get huge penalties and fines, but do you see Ga4 as an improvement in analytics or is it a Google is covering their butt to make sure they’re not getting in trouble and they have to report differently, but there’s not really improvements in how the data is going to be shared or analytics like we’re being forced to use a new tool, but it’s not better. Do you get what I’m asking?

Eric Kelly: Yeah, I think it’s a very horizontal move. A lot of what we had in Universal Analytics is in Ga4.

Tim Warren: Okay.

Eric Kelly: Displayed uniquely.

Tim Warren: Okay.

Eric Kelly: Were you use to really dive in per page, per session. And Universal Analytics did a very good job of looking at a session of a user. Now Ga4 has a very strong intent on the events that a user takes or the actions, the engagement of a user. And there are two different points. And universal analytics was really good to understand a unique page where Ga4 gives you a very deep insight into how people are using the site and active users.

Tim Warren: Do you think that’s going to lead to the rise of other tools like Ahrefs. Where when Google started not providing keyword data and page data, Ahrefs rose because they do provide that information. Albeit maybe not as perfectly accurately as your own GA could, but they provide that data on their own. Is this going to lead to the rise of other tools that do provide more user by user session data?

Eric Kelly: Yeah, Adobe Analytics for larger companies has taken off because you have an exact user how many times they’ve touched. There are a bunch of third party softwares for call tracking for pop ups integration that are collecting a little bit more data that give you unique interaction views. There’s always going to be a need to understand users to break down.

Tim Warren: Sure.

Eric Kelly: To track someone into your CRM, understand who they are, and group them with similar clients to see how they’re interacting. So there’s always going to be new. I think GA is still going to be one of the powerhouses in reporting, and especially if you need a very quick and dirty understanding.

Tim Warren: Okay, so let’s let’s kind of pivot into GA for more technically, right? Because that makes sense why they’re putting it in place and why they’re implementing it. But in terms of setup, so a lot of companies right now are trying to set up their GA for or they’ve set it up initially, but now they’re really focusing on it because we’re getting close to that July date, right? We’re a couple of months out. So I know properties and views really, really big in universe of analytics or UI. What is changing and why?

Eric Kelly: Yeah, so Universal Analytics based a lot around being able to filter out using the view. So if you had one property installed across your site, you could break it out to viewing just your blog section. A bots removed section a filter and goals unique to individuals.

Tim Warren: Right.

Eric Kelly: So if you have two different parties that use the same site, same analytics, you didn’t need to interact at all. Those views are disappearing. Now, there are several solutions to this. Nothing works just as smoothly as Universal did. But let’s take the example of. A product owner responsible for the blog section of a site getting content up and they just want to know, are people interacting with the banners that I’m putting in? Are they clicking on the CTAs? Are they filling out the newsletter or the form on the site? You really want to know, are you able to gather that data and you don’t care about your product section or your main site, or even if you have a knowledge hub somewhere else. It used to be able to filter that out. Just put that in a view.

Tim Warren: Yep.

Eric Kelly: You’re good.

Tim Warren: Yep.

Eric Kelly: In GA4 now, the best solution that we found is you can create collections. So when you open up GA4, you have that fairly standard sidebar and it comes with life cycle. It comes with business sense and real time reporting. You can take each of those sections and duplicate them and they live on that sidebar under their own unique name. So for a section you can filter out just the blogs. So you no longer have the view where you’re not interacting with anyone else on your property, but you have the ability to filter out just what you want.

Tim Warren: Interesting. Okay, so views are going away, but properties are staying and there will be a way to kind of work around views going away.

Eric Kelly: Yeah, now you can just run with the simpler solution of create a new property that gets only installed on the blog section.

Tim Warren: Right.

Eric Kelly: Universal Analytics used to interact very poorly when you had two and three running multiple codes.

Tim Warren: Yeah, we had huge issues. The bounce rate was 0% and yeah, yeah.

Eric Kelly: If you’re having multiple gtms passing the same event into a data layer, all of a sudden you’re going crazy. Like the site tag did not like working.

Tim Warren: In fact, that used to be something we looked for when we would get,  a potential new client would give us their analytics access and we would see like, well, the bounce rate is only 10%. Like that can’t be right. We’d immediately go look for two codes.

Eric Kelly: Yep. Yeah. Two UAs like our whole analytics audit moving into GA4 is been revamped, but when we’re looking specifically at that multiple GA4 code, they pass directly into a data stream. So having two data streams live, having two properties live, they don’t really interact with each other like you used to have those issues. So that is an alternative.

Tim Warren: So you can have multiple GA4 codes and it’d be fine.

Eric Kelly: It yes, you still have a little bit of a load impact, but unless  you’re hosted on a multi site server, it usually not going to have an impact on load, maybe a thousandth of a second.

Tim Warren: Okay. What is the actual code? I know, I remember with UA it was like U A then hyphen there’s a number or whatever. What’s the GA4 code going to be?

Eric Kelly: Yeah. The new measurement ID will start with a G hyphen and then it’s a seven number or seven character code. So just as you used to be able to go into the page and search for UA hyphen, you can search for G hyphen and then your number.

Tim Warren: Okay. So basically view page source, right click view page, source g hyphen, and that’ll find you the G code or the Ga4 code. Now what it used to be UA code.

Eric Kelly: Yeah.

Tim Warren: Okay. Pretty simple. And just confirming you can now have multiple G codes or the GA4 codes on individual pages without breaking them like UA used to break them. 

Eric Kelly: Yeah, UA there were ways to work around it. Very. You had to be very technical. Now installing multiple GA codes, you’re safe.

Tim Warren: Okay. It’s not going to screw up all the bounce rate and sessions like it used to before?

Eric Kelly: Nice thing is bounce rates actually gone in GA4. They’ve replaced it with engagement rate.

Tim Warren: Interesting. Why do they do that?

Eric Kelly: I was mentioning a little bit earlier that GA4s moved over to more of an event based session.

Tim Warren: Yes.

Eric Kelly: So Universal Analytics used to, when someone would hit your site the second they hit it, the session started.

Tim Warren: Right.

Eric Kelly: And you would run into instances where someone would click the wrong search result, hit your page, leave someone would have it bookmarked, hit your page and leave. Or they put their computer to sleep. And when they opened, Chrome refreshed. Session gone.

Tim Warren: Yes.

Eric Kelly: And your bounce rate would just go crazy. Or you would always have some percentage.

Tim Warren: Yeah, right.

Eric Kelly: Engagement rate and an engaged session is now tracked as a user on your site for more than 10s or that interacts with an element of the site.

Tim Warren: Okay. So, so if you open the site, click on a link and only three seconds then close, it would still count as a user.

Eric Kelly: Yes.

Tim Warren: Because they engaged. Yep. Even if it’s sub 10s. Yeah.

Eric Kelly: Got it. What this does is a lot of people that would load on realize they’re on the wrong page and leave.

Tim Warren: Yeah

Eric Kelly: Those aren’t counted anymore. So your conversion rate. Your bounce rate.

Tim Warren: So it’s not a user with a bounce now. Now It just didn’t happen. Yeah. Okay. Got it. So I’m going to for data privacy, I’m going to only visit every site, click on, I’m going to visit for nine seconds and never click on anything. I’ll never get counted. Right.

Eric Kelly: Refresh it. Have a crawler. Pull the links close. Open.

Tim Warren: It’s like a Ron Swanson from Parks and Rec. Right. Throwing the computer in the trash can. It’s going to be. I only visit each site for nine seconds and I’m out. Yeah. Well, let me ask a question, because you mentioned events. And that’s a pretty new thing, right? When I look at GA4, back in universe analytics, I would go and I would look at sessions, I’d look unique new sessions, I would look at bounce rate, I would look at time on site, I would look at conversions, right? But events were not really, there were event goals, but events were not really a major thing. Now we’re seeing this huge upshift in events on GA4. You go in there and it’s like, Whoa, there’s like 10,000 events, you know, like 10,000 conversions. Like, what does this mean? Can you walk through, why is that happening? Why is this huge uptick in events in GA4.

Eric Kelly: Yeah. So events is a way that GA4 measures those interactions in universal analytics events were almost always custom. You would set them up yourself and sometimes if you weren’t doing it in GTM, you had to be very technical to get the data. While they were like you said, you could have your event based conversions and those would be the marker. You would always look at that conversion number. Yes, GA4 is very event forward because they want to show you how users interacting with their site. When you first start up a GA4 account and you load in, it gives about six basic events that start off; session started, page view, engaged session, scroll and click are the biggest. There’s watch video and a few others. But each of these is to show how a page is being interacted with. The more events on a page, the more active that page is and in GA4’s view, the more important the page. So where before it was just how many people saw the page, it’s now. Are people using your site?

Tim Warren: Okay. Okay. So the big reason for up click in events is GA4 is now essentially using events as engagements.

Eric Kelly: Yes.

Tim Warren: Got it.

Eric Kelly: One thing you’ll see is like double, triple, quadruple events on a page. And especially if you’ve been reporting on your custom events before in your reporting, you’ll really want to filter that down because you’re getting a page view, a click in a engaged session on every page. So three events that you might only fire an event once every six pages on your old site.

Tim Warren: So are conversions still the same.

Eric Kelly: Yeah.

Tim Warren: Where in a conversion was I can put it in there and say okay if they went to my thank you page, clicked the button and I got a thank you page they went to my contact us page and they ended up on my thank you page because they actually fill out the whole thing and clicked submit. That’s a conversion, you know, And I could have five events in between there. But does that conversion still work the same way?

Eric Kelly: Yeah. So you can still do event based conversions. You have an unlimited number of events that you can create and track within the event section. But now instead of having 20 goals, you now have 20 conversions. Now each conversion does have to be an event. But how we used to track like a thank you page as a destination goal, you can set up a event with a parameter of the location being that thank you page and then you tick your box. You say this is a conversion.

Tim Warren: Okay.

Eric Kelly: Then also your conversions populate out in the conversion report.

Tim Warren: Okay.

Eric Kelly: So it works very, very similar. And it’s actually a little bit easier just saying checking off boxes.

Tim Warren: Okay.Versus before we had to actually go and set them up and create all the IDs and all that.

Eric Kelly: Yeah. You had to know your event category, your event action, your label, and now you just need to know what the event name is and if it has value.

Tim Warren: And then putting in the value. How important is it to put in a value for a conversion goals?

Eric Kelly: If you have a value, a dollar number to tie, if it’s a sale. I almost always recommend putting a value in. If you’re looking at lead form and lead generation. If you have a close rate, if you know how much each sale brings you in, you can put placeholders. But if you don’t have a direct monetary correlation, I usually leave values open.

Tim Warren: One thing I heard that I want to just get your thoughts on, is Google ads, specifically looks at conversion values and then tries to work back into the audience. They ran the ads to, to drive more of the high conversion values. So the person I was talking to about this, I don’t remember who it was, but they talked about if whenever possible, fill out conversion values in AdWords because and then obviously in GA4 because Google tries to track back now whichever conversions have the highest value because they know if you buy ads and you drive high conversion values, you made more money, you’re more likely to buy more ads. Right? So do you think the same thing is happening in Ga4 when there’s not ads being purchased? Do you think Google is looking at that data or what are your thoughts on that?

Eric Kelly: So if you’re running ads, even if you’re not using the conversions in GA4 to connect over to ads because there is a ads integration just like there was in UA.

Tim Warren: Right.

Eric Kelly: If you’re not using it. You’re the only one that’s going to be manipulating your events. But as we talked about with our automotive earlier, with Venture, they have events in there that don’t directly impact their ads. But GA4 can associate with ads and if they are usually directed there through ads, they hit an event that has a value. Google has that information and is going to use it somehow. So if you’re running ads in any any form that’s connected in, I would recommend.

Tim Warren: It’s good to put them in then.

Eric Kelly: Yeah.

Tim Warren: Okay. That’s actually good advice because I in the past it’s kind of been like something where we’re like, Oh, you can take or leave it like, right? Like obviously e-commerce companies put goals in there, which they should because that’s really easy to track back. What was my ROAs? But for other companies like B2B lead sites that are like, why do I have to fill this out? Why does it matter? It does actually matter because if you’re running ads, being able to track back to which ads drove the best conversion value, Google will try to optimize those campaigns more if you have high conversion values.

Eric Kelly: Yep. And I mean even if you just need to put a placeholder of $5, $20 like this is my most important conversion, even though it’s a form fill and this is just a newsletter at a dollar.

Tim Warren: Yeah

Eric Kelly: It’s worth having some small.

Tim Warren: Totally agree because it helps. It helps Google’s ads optimize their algorithm. Yeah. Okay. So another question I want to ask is attribution. So I know attribution in UA was all last touch or really focused on last touch, but that’s changing in Ga4. Is that correct?

Eric Kelly: Yeah. So while Last Touch is still available, Last Touch has been renamed to session or source or attribution by session.

Tim Warren: Okay.

Eric Kelly: Most of what GA4 defaults to is first session or first source. Going in If you ever add in a source medium or if there’s one default, you’re going to see it’s first touch. It’s really expanded. You used to be able to go into UA and see those multi-touch attribution models and it’s like all they touched.

Tim Warren: Goal path, all that stuff.

Eric Kelly: Yep. Direct GA4 just allows for a deeper insight into this. Much easier. It’s right in your reports. You don’t have to jump off into something new. Is it going to be as impactful? Is it going to change how GA does anything? I don’t think so. The biggest benefit is to the user. If you want to know if you’re looking at an e-commerce site that there are multiple purchases, multiple sessions. Session is probably going to be your best. If you’re looking at multi. 

Tim Warren: Or last touch.

Eric Kelly: Yeah. Last touch. Yeah. If you’re looking at, maybe two week, two month conversion window, your first session is probably going to be your best.

Tim Warren: So I know at Helium we use a tool called Attribution app, which is a G2, you know, popular G2 crowd or G2 product, and it allows you to track all your attribution like multi-touch attribution, online, offline across social. It’s a really good tracking tool. Will GA replace the need for attribution app or will it still be necessary?

Eric Kelly: It’s still going to be a necessary tool. There’s leaps and bounds forward in GA4 tools like attribution app allow you to connect into CRMs and get more data passed back. You’re able to do unique identification of a user that GA4 just isn’t really set for. Um, it’s good to know what paths people are using and that’s what GA4 is good for a very quick view. If you need an in-depth and you need to look at individual users, attribution app and other similar tools are going to give you more insight.

Tim Warren: That’s super helpful. So, if you’re not using attribution app, which is a paid paid tool, right? I think companies who want to pay for it through helium, it’s like an additional $500 a month or something, right? Because we buy a larger license. But if you don’t want to pay for an extra attribution tool, it sounds like GA4 has better attribution modeling than UA did, but it’s still not perfect is what it sounds.

Eric Kelly: Yeah, it’s more than enough. Or it’s more than we’ve ever had before. It is. It gives you really good insights. You’re just going to be working out of a model instead of an exact user.

Tim Warren: Right? Okay. So, another question I wanted to ask Eric is setting up Ga4. Right? Because  with the data, you know, eventually going away and being sunset and everything, being forced to switch over on July, a lot of people are in the setup phase right now, setting up Ga4, or they started the setup and maybe they haven’t totally finished the setup. Do you have any specific recommendations for when setting up a new G4A, for what things to look for and what to do? 

Eric Kelly: Yeah. So Google’s setup assistant works very well to get most everything that you need going through. If you have UA already, it’s a few clicks you’ll get through. It’ll work perfectly. We have seen issues with the event setup a little bit more complicated, but most get carried over.

Tim Warren: Okay.

Eric Kelly: There are several things that we do recommend taking a closer look at to make sure you hit, but Even from scratch, just creating it. The setup tool and the process is very, very simple.

Tim Warren: So. Eric, this has been great so far. One major question that people are dealing with right now is UA is about to sunset in July and they’re in the process of either setting up GA or in the process of setting up the new GA4 or they’ve already set it up and now they’re trying to see did I set it up correctly. Right. So you have, I think, four recommended steps or bullets of what to make sure you’ve done correctly. Can you walk through those for us?

Eric Kelly: Yeah. So Google setup assistant, whether you’re going from an old universal analytics account or a brand new from scratch GA4 account, the setup assistant hits 90% of what you need. We always have a few bullet points. Like you said, the four bullet points that we want to hit to make sure that you’re not losing data or missing out on attribution. So when you start and look, you look at GA4 how long does it keep the data? Universal Analytics was historically, it just kept all the data that it had. GA4 now, when you go in, you can set the window for retention data retention.

Tim Warren: Okay.

Eric Kelly: It’s usually by default set to 14 months and you have a 14 month, a six month and a two month option or something similar to that. So you can. If you don’t have it set up right, all of a sudden you only have two months of data and you can’t really look back at more than month over month.

Tim Warren: And so we’re not going to be able to look at more than 14 months of data ever in Ga4.

Eric Kelly: Yep.

Tim Warren: Really?

Eric Kelly: 14. 

Tim Warren: So if I want to go back and say how did this year compared to last year, I won’t be able to do that.

Eric Kelly: You won’t be able to do that. You’ll be able to compare this month to this time last year. You’ll be able to compare this quarter to this quarter last year, but you won’t be able to get how is this compared to 2022?

Tim Warren: Wow. Why are they doing that?

Eric Kelly: I think it’s just their same data retention, the personal identify. Oh, personal identification information. Just how long it can be stored.

Tim Warren: It’s also some of this too, that Google is with. Think about having Google Analytics accounts There are and just how much data is being stored. Like is it just they’re looking at and saying like, what’s the value here the servers were paying for? We don’t charge for analytics. Like, are we making money on this? You think some of that’s involved too?

Eric Kelly: Oh yeah, definitely. Like when we look back, it’s a number of our clients that have data from 2015. Yeah, sitting there it is thousands of events, thousands like all of that can be compressed, all of that can be stored, but it pulls up so quickly. The stress on their servers, the amount of information stored has massive.

Tim Warren: Massive. Yeah. So I bet you somewhere there’s an executive who’s like, Do we really need all this? They probably ran a report. How often are people looking at data from, you know, past two years ago. Some guy came in with a clipboard, was like, oh, less than 3%, sir. He’s like, all right, cut all that. We can cut our server costs by 27% if we reduce all this, right? And we need more room for YouTube videos, Tons and tons of pointless videos that people are streaming on YouTube.

Eric Kelly: Yeah. What is it? Years of YouTube videos, every minute.

Tim Warren: It’s like I think it’s 100 years. It’s 100 years of YouTube video upload every minute or something. It’s like insane. Yeah, it’s insane.

Eric Kelly: And it gets stored forever.

Tim Warren: Yeah, it’s got to get stored forever. And that’s I mean, the video eats up way more bandwidth than GA data. But then again, video is the future, right? Like that’s the content people look at right now. That’s not only video, but it’s really powerful and people are probably not looking at their data from 2016.

Eric Kelly: Yeah. What was that Happy little accidents from Bob Ross. The clearing of this data storage is a nice little.

Tim Warren: Yeah.

Eric Kelly: Uh, edition.

Tim Warren: Yeah. Um, that’s funny.

Eric Kelly: Yeah. So along with that Data storage. Like how long are you maintaining that data or retaining that data?

Tim Warren: So you should always set it to 14 months.

Eric Kelly: 14 Months if you can. Okay. There may be some other small legal bits in the US. 14 months is perfectly fine.

Tim Warren: Okay

Eric Kelly: We’re good there. So the data retention runs on either two months or 14 months. And then in attribution setting, you can set attribution to seven days, 30 days or 67 or 30 days for attribution numbers.

Tim Warren: Okay.

Eric Kelly: For data retention, you can set it at 30, 60 or 90 days for attribution.

Tim Warren: Interesting.

Eric Kelly: So it’s kind of in your window if you have very short windows for purchase e-comm, someone coming in and purchasing a t shirt. So that’s seven days because every time they come, if they’re coming through a new medium, a returning user or the new source is more important, right? If you have a very long sales cycle, set it to that 60 to 90 day cycle so that, you know, the first time that they touch the site and what this current session was.

Tim Warren: Yeah, That’s going to disrupt some attribution modeling for sure. For a lot of companies, this is not how they’re used to doing it.

Eric Kelly: Yep Well, like you said, there’s attribution app, which is a great solution to this. Yes, you can do multi-touch funnel a lot more. Old universal analytics. We were always bound by that last touch if we wanted to do events. So this still adds a bit for us, but we just, after 90 days, default back to a first touch.

Tim Warren: So are there any other key while you’re setting up Google Analytics, any other key things to be aware of or look at?

Eric Kelly: Yeah. So you have your basic event settings. You want to make sure that all them all your basic events are turned on. And when you go into those basic event settings, there’s an additional dropdown to import GA or universal analytics events.

Tim Warren: Okay

Eric Kelly: This can be very important so that you don’t have to set up your events twice, right? If you don’t check this box, you have to go back in and change all. If you have 1520 tags in GTM, you have to change each one individually into a GA4 tag.

Tim Warren: Got it.

Eric Kelly: If you have, let’s say, a chat plugin that automatically integrates into UA and is passing UA events, GA4 can pick those up if you check that box, but all of a sudden you’re going to be losing event data if you don’t. So we have data retention attribution and those events so far. The last one we really want to look at is the site search. So in old Universal Analytics, you used to be able to see, Oh, if you have a search bar on your site, what is everybody searching? You should just be able to tie a query to it. You can tie so much more information to that. Now, if your site uses a site search, it’s a little bit more in-depth of a setup. The Google dev technical paper is actually very easy to follow and it’s a very straightforward setup.

Tim Warren: Okay.

Eric Kelly: But you can get in a session where there was a search, What were the conversions? What did they search for? What pages did people end up on in a search? So it’s no longer just what did they search, it’s how are they interacting with the site afterwards?

Tim Warren: That’s cool. That’s cool. So it’s giving more data. Do you do you recommend brands like Helium where we you know, maybe we don’t have a site search at the moment. Should we add site search now that Ga4 is going to give us more insight on site search.

Eric Kelly: So with site search itself, it is very beneficial. But unless you have a large blog section or you have a large amount of information to sort through, you’re not really going to get much of a benefit of the site search. Sure. If you have a large blog, if you want to see what blogs are most important. Usually you can get that through where people are coming in on search console.

Tim Warren: Right.

Eric Kelly: I think it’s an added benefit, but I don’t think it’s a necessity to set up. Okay.

Tim Warren: But if you do have a site so it could make sense to add one. If you have a lot of content people can sort through or people come to your site looking for something specifically at a site. But if you do have site search, whether you want to add one or not, that data is going to be much more effectively tracked in gGA and give you a lot better insight.

Eric Kelly: Yeah. It’s a nice little cookie that comes with it.

Tim Warren: Eric this stuff’s been amazing. Let me. We’re running out of time here. So let me let me ask kind of a final closing question on GA, which is from what we understand now, the data, it’s going to stop collecting data in July and then the data probably will go away and be unaccessible in September. And we also know that they’re shutting down other apps at Google Optimize and other that just aren’t used very, very often. So with with us moving over to GA4 what should what should users or listeners that are watching this podcast or listening to this podcast. What should they do with their old data? So if they want access to know some of that and they want to do a year over year comparison because if they’re just starting to collect GA4 now. Right. They’re not going to be able to do any kind of year over year or any type of historical comparison. What do you recommend to companies that have that issue right now? How do they store their old data so they can at least go back and look at for a while, what was year over year data look like until it’s all in Ga4?

Eric Kelly: Yeah. So for larger companies that have a lot of data that they’re constantly accessing. BigQuery allows you to pull a huge amount of data from Universal Analytics. You’re able to store a lot of it. There are a few issues. So as you’re looking into pulling this data, there’s plenty of articles out there. But like one example is if you pull events or if you pull conversions with BigQuery, it strips the dates from them. So, you know, you got a number of conversions, but you don’t know what day it came from. Or you can pull months and other parts, but it’s not as sociable. If you take some time to sit down and say what is truly important to me. I need to know what my traffic is by month, what my traffic is by week. You can pull that data for the last two years, limit yourself unless you really need to go back five and six years to maybe 2020 and forward. Manageable data amounts. Pull what we usually recommend is your conversion numbers by month, your traffic by month, your bounce rates, whatever you really were reporting from and were acting on. I know a lot of our reports have so much data in there that we want to inform everybody and we want to tell stories. But at the same time, you only want that actionable data, right? Make it truly understand what you use it for and start gathering that. Store it in a zip file in an export. Store it somewhere that you can access it in the future. What you need to do with it right now is not really go in and manipulate it and pull everything. Look at what truly impactful like the escort we were talking before, right? If you never looked at events before, there’s not really a reason to pull them.

Tim Warren: No, that sounds great. Well, Eric, thanks for coming on the podcast. Really appreciate. I think we’re out of time today. For those of you watching or listening, we really appreciate. Thanks for joining the podcast. This is the It’s All Just Marketing podcast by Helium SEO. I’m your host Tim, and we thank you for the time and we’ll see you guys on the next one.

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