How to Stop UA From Duplicating Data When Moving to GA4?

Since Google’s Universal Analytics is about to retire, many will have to transition to GA4. Here, we discuss a problem you might face.

Video Transcript:

David: So, you’re asking a question about transitioning to GA4 using a new GA4 code but also making sure that UA is not also adding information to GA4.  

Tricia: Yes. The reason is on this specific website, the business did not go ahead and do their own and add it, and Google went ahead and said, okay, we’re setting it up for you. And since you haven’t installed the GA4 code, we’re going to just use what’s there with Universal. So, I’d like to still use that GA4 code because it’s collecting data. So, there won’t be a break in that. But what I found was very confusing, and I’m not sure how to finish and proceed with that.

David: Let me ask a couple of real quick questions. Number one, are there two GA4 properties or only one?

Tricia: One.

David: Okay. And how many codes do you have on the website? JavaScript codes for Google Analytics. When you view source of the page, or are you running Tag Manager, where you have to log into Tag Manager?

Tricia: So, they do not have Tag Manager. That was going to be something I was going to set up. Okay, so I do that, I view source, and I do find… What was it that we find?

David: So, you should look for gtag.js, which is the Google Analytics JavaScript code.

Tricia: Okay. So, it found one.

David: Okay.

Tricia: It says script So, I’m assuming that means they have Google Tag Manager, and they just didn’t know.

David: No, no, no.

Tricia: Okay.

David: So, next to gtag.js, you will see either a G-blah blah blah or a UA-blah, blah, blah.

Tricia: Okay. So, it just has script sync. But then below, there’s a gtag config, and it’s a UA.

David: It says UA. Okay, so what this is telling me is there’s not a GA4 code on site. Because if there was, the ID number would be G- something. But it’s UA- something. So, what they’re doing is they’re using the latest version of the Google Analytics code gtag.js they have associated with UA code which is a Universal Analytics code, and that is filtering into a GA4 account.

Tricia: Yes.

David: So, you do need to create a new GA4 property.

Tricia: Okay, so the question is, if there already is one, do I need to create a new one?

David: No. So, what’s happening is the UA code is sending information into Universal Analytics and to GA4. So, as a best practice, I recommend having a separate GA4 tag on the site.

Tricia: Yes.

David: Your intuition was correct. If you do nothing, you’re sending data into GA4 twice – once through UA and once through the second code. So, you do need to go into Universal Analytics and disconnect it from the GA4 property.

Tricia: Okay.

David: Probably under data streams.

Tricia: Okay. Data streams. I see. Okay.

David: Are you logged in under the UA property?

Tricia: I’m in the GA4 property.

David: Don’t go there. Go to the UA property because that’s sending data into GA4.

Tricia: Okay, so go to UA.

David: It’s not under data streams anyway. I’m sorry, I made a mistake.

Tricia: I’m sorry I did that. And just so you all know, I have a big timer that comes up. This property will stop processing data on July 1, and it’s got a countdown. Days, hours, minutes.

David: It’s crazy what they’re doing. Yeah.

Tricia: Okay. So, I’m in Universal.

David: Right? And so somewhere within Universal, I don’t know where it is offhand, is a connector. It’s probably in the wizard or maybe in the property settings or the user setting. Not user settings, property settings. There will be a button to say, associate this with the GA4 property. You’ll want to disconnect from that.

Tricia: Okay, I see.

David: Okay. You’ll want to do that after you install the GA code.

Tricia: Okay, so let me see. It’s in GA4 setup assistant, just for you all to know.

David: There you go.

Tricia: Okay, so after, I want to make sure I get this in the right order. So, what I really should do first is go into my GA4 and set up a data stream, then add that to the website, and then come here and disconnect?

David: Well, you don’t have to set up an additional data stream. You just need to put the code for GA4.

Tricia: Okay, let me look at this GA4 thingy. Okay, so GA4… Property settings. Okay, I see my data. Okay, I was looking somewhere else, and it didn’t have a data stream, and that confused me. This is what I’m looking for. Okay. First, I’m going to add this GA4 data stream with the Curious Ants thing like I typically do with Site Kit and all of that, and Google Tag Manager, right? Then I should go to UA and, under GA4 setup assistant, disconnect the property.

David: Yes.

Tricia: Okay.

David: Okay. So, when you use Site Kit, it will try to add the UA code. It might, I should say, because we’re a month and a half away from the deadline, and they might have changed it. So, double-check everything like we normally do. We look at real-time, understanding there’s a delay, and what we want to make sure of is that we’re not having two visits for every visit.

Tricia: Yes. Make sure we’re not duplicating. And that was my concern because I knew that if I simply added it, I was going to have duplicates, which I didn’t want. Okay.

David: The reason I’m recommending going ahead and adding the GA4 code now is that then, we can remove the UA code, and our website is going to last a long time. At some point, Google will stop supporting the UA code. We don’t know when. It might be a year from July.

Tricia: Yeah.

David: But this way, it’s done.

Tricia: Yes, that’s it. We’re thinking about it. I’m in there. I know what I’m doing. So, do it now, as opposed to waiting for a problem to come up.

David: Exactly. That’s why I recommend it.

Tricia: Okay. Yeah. That helps because I’m telling you, Google’s instructions were very… I never really specifically found these instructions on Google because it was like, add a new stream and then delete the old one. I’m like, well if it’s already collecting data, why am I going to stop and do a whole new thing? So, maybe I just looked in the wrong place.

David: I think this is more of an advanced thing. You could get away with not doing the step and just use UA for a while, but you eventually have to change it.

Tricia: Thank you.

David: It’s complicated, but it’s a good question.

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