How Do You Check to See if Data is Coming from GA4 or UA?

Accurate analytics are crucial. Here’s how to ensure getting the right data as Google Universal Analytics changes to GA4.

Video Transcript:

Onawa: I see it now about Google Analytics four. I knew that somebody else had installed it. And it was tracking. I had the conversions. But when I went to look at the site itself, I was like, are there multiple instances of analytics codes on there? So, I went to look, and there was only one. But it was the Universal Analytics one, even though I know it’s tracking GA4. I did the page source, and I only saw the one. I didn’t see the other one.

David: Okay. So, we’re trying to figure out if there are multiple installs, or I guess maybe the question is, how do you know, if you’re running UA, why you are getting GA4 data? Is that kind of the question?

Onawa: That’s kind of it. I obviously like it to be correct and have the right installation on there, but I also don’t want to mess up the conversions that I have actually running now.

David: Yes. So, the good news is it’s a simple answer. The other good news is nothing is wrong. You might take some extra steps just to ensure. But here’s what’s going on. So, remember I spoke yesterday about the two different JavaScripts, analytics.js and gtag.js, right? Someone pointed out that the way I was talking about it was a little confusing. So, if you have on your website the analytics code, and when you log into GA4, you see data in GA4, I know for sure you’re running gtag.js on your site. Because if you’re running analytics.js, you wouldn’t be able to see GA4 data. That’s why it’s important to make sure you have the gtag on your site. Okay? So, in other words, if you don’t do anything, everything will continue to work. Apparently, what you searched for was UA-, which would be your Universal Analytics unique identifier.

Onawa: I looked for the GA4 identifier I had as well, and I didn’t see it at all.

David: So, what’s going on is that your Universal Analytics code is connected with your GA4 profile, and it’s sending data into GA4. Okay? But because you’re using the gtag code, it can do that.

Onawa: Okay.

David: Okay. Now, there are some steps I think you should take to ensure maximum future compatibility. Okay. I would add a separate Google Analytics installation to your website that would be dedicated to GA4. Okay? But to do that, you’re going to have to do a couple of little things. Okay? Because if you have the gtag.js with the UA identifier in your site, that is already sending data to GA4. If you add another code that only has the GA4 measurement ID, you’re going to be sending data into GA4 twice. Right? So, you have to do a couple of things. Number one, you’ll have to go into your Google Analytics account and disconnect your Universal and your GA4. That will not allow your Universal to send data into your GA4. Okay. But you’ll also need to add a new code to your site using the code provided by Google Analytics four. So, you’ll be running two different gtag codes. One for UA and one for GA4. The best way to do this is Google Tag Manager. And so, the best way to add Google Tag Manager is the Google Site Kit plugin. Okay? The Curious Ants documentation will walk you through all those steps. And then, as I mentioned in our talk yesterday, there’s a little step where you have to then tell Site Kit not to send data into GA4 because you’re sending it in via…

Onawa: That’s right. You had the tag just on the bottom.

David: Right. So, it’s a little more advanced to the setup. But what this will do is, at a certain point, whether that’s July or December of 2023, your UA code won’t even matter anymore. Right? Because they’re only going to be running GA4. So, what we want to do now is clean up the code so that when July happens, maybe we even take off the UA code. Right? And if it’s in Tag Manager, we’re not monkeying with themes and stuff like that. We’re just taking it out of Tag Manager. And then only running GA4 from that point forward. But you really have to make sure in the meantime, because you’re probably still using the UA code, that you don’t break that.

Onawa: Yeah.

David: Right. But the good news is you said you’ve got your tracking conversions in GA4. That will not change, right? If you make a mistake and you accidentally are still connecting UA and GA4, and then you add another GA4, you’ll actually double-count in GA4, which obviously is not great. But you should be able to identify that pretty quickly because suddenly, in GA4, every number is divisible by two. And you’re like, wait, why am I getting two form submissions?

Tricia: Oh.

David: That’s because I’m running two codes.

Onawa: Okay.

David: But you know the other alternative solution here is the simplest, which is if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Right. UA code is still sending data into GA4, so you can just walk away. And then, in July, take off UA and make this transition. You could do that. That anticipates the lowest number of potential variable problems that could happen. And just wait until July 1. And do it on July 1. So, from that point forward, you’re only running GA4. You don’t have to worry about the old UA code.

Onawa: Okay.

David: Does that make any sense?

Onawa: Yeah, yeah.

David: So, I spoke yesterday about just the fear of what Google’s going to do when we have things connected. Maybe nothing will go wrong. I just want to ensure success with my data. That’s why I’m going to the extra trouble to not opt out of the automation and to set up my own code. But it’ll probably be okay. People who need to worry about it are people with super complicated, unique analytics setups with audiences and super complicated settings. I think most people are going to be just fine.

Onawa: This is mainly the only one where I really had anything beyond just looking at it. And it happened to be the one that still has tracking but had just the UA code.

David: Right. And that’s why it’s tracking a GA4 because you connect within the analytics. You’ve allowed them to be connected. I almost just say, let it go until July. And then, as soon as you can, within July 1, remove UA and make sure the GA4 is now on there. You know, that way, everything continues to track. I’m sure the UA code on the site using the gtag will still send data into GA4 because they’ve encouraged everybody to do this connector thing. And if they don’t keep sending data to GA4, on July 1, they’ve basically shot themselves in the foot. But that’s why I typically encourage people to set up a separate install of GA4, just in case someone didn’t think about that.

Onawa: Yeah.

David: Does that help give you some direction?

Onawa: Definitely.

David: Okay. Okay good.

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