The Ultimate Guide for Google Analytics 4 Setup

Google Analytics 4 is a great way to keep track of your website traffic and see what’s happening with visitors on the other side. More than earlier versions, GA4 offers deep insight levels and more customization. Setting it up correctly is of major importance.

But it can be tough setting up Google Analytics 4… especially if you’re not very tech-savvy!

Luckily we’ve got the complete GA4 setup guide covering all the basics and some more advanced topics.

Follow through the details and start tracking and collecting data asap!

Create a Property and Data Stream

These steps are basic GA4 configuration. Before that, be sure to read about the key benefits of GA4 and how the new and improved platform works.

Follow the simple 10 steps to create a new property in GA4 and set its parameters while logged into your Google Analytics account:

#1 First, go to the Admin section and click on the Create Property button.

#2 Set the property name, currency, and time zone for the account.

You can skip the step where Google asks for your business information. That step won’t directly influence the data and reports you can see on your property.

#3 Click the Create button, and you’ll get the option to create a new data stream.

#4 If you’re moving from a web property, choose Select Web to select the type of site.

#5 The settings panel should display where you have to enter your website’s URL and a data stream name.

#6 Review the Enhanced Measurement settings. See whether you should exclude any events from being tracked automatically.

#7 To finish, click the Save button.

After you’ve created the data stream, you’ll receive a Measurement ID that you’ll need in the Google Tag Manager (GTM) Tag Configuration panel. We recommend using GTM for tracking. 

#8 Cross-domain tracking, undesirable referrals, and internal traffic may all be disabled or restricted on the More Tagging Settings.

#9 Another critical consideration is Data Retention. The extent of user and event data retention is set to two months by default. Make sure to check if you need to change it to be 14 months, depending on your company’s needs.

#10 Now, head over to Google Tag Manager and set up your base GA4 configuration tag.

Rather than hardcoding GA4 tags on your website, use GTM for all of your tracking needs. It’s a free tool that lets you make custom definitions and simplifies tag deployment and management.

Install GA4 with GTM

The optimal way to set up Google Analytics 4 is using the Google Tag Manager (GTM). Here’s how you do it in 19 short and easy steps.

#1 You’ve created a property, navigate to your data stream details.

#2 Copy the Measurement ID (you’ll need to paste it later).

#3 Navigate to your GTM account and click on the New Tag link.

#4 Tag your new tag with the name G4 – Config a similar distinctive name and set it to Google Analytics: GA4 Configuration, like this: 

#5 Paste the Measurement ID you copied earlier.

#6 Now that you’ve finished setting up tags, it’s time to trigger them! Go into the Triggeringsection and select All Pages.

#7 Click the Save button.

#8 Clicking on the Preview button at the top right-hand side, the tag manager preview mode should open in a new browser tab. 

If it doesn’t – your browser might be blocking the window.

#9 Copy and paste your website URL in the Preview mode and then click on the Start button. A new tab will open up with your website.

#10 You’ll want to switch back to the browser tab with tag manager preview mode and click the Continue button.

#11 If there is the tag G4 Tracking – All Pages under the Tags Fired sections, you did it! It’s firing correctly.

#12 Hop on to your GTM account and submit everything by clicking the Submit button. 

#13 Enter Version Name and Publish.

#14 To make sure you’ve set up everything correctly, now hop back to your website, visit a couple of pages, and make a few clicks.

#15 Return to your GA4 property and go to Reports from the left nav menu.

#16 Click on Realtime report.

We bet you’re excited to see all of this new information updating in real-time!

Install GA4 with gtag.js

These steps are only to be followed if you don’t use GTM but have the gtag.js on your website.  You needn’t add new codes if you’re already using gtag.js on your site. Just make sure you turn on tagging for the GA4 stream.

#1 Open your current GA property.

#2 Go to Admin – Tracking info – Tracking code.

#3 Click on Connected Site Tags under Global site tag (gtag.js).

#4 Then, connect the Measurement ID of your recently created GA4 property.

#5 Finally, keep your current UA code in action as these need to stay connected!

Install GA4 If you’re not using new gtag.js and GTM

If you don’t use Google Tag Manager or gtag.js on your website, follow these steps to install GA4:

#1 Open the Setup Assistant of your newly created GA4 property.

#2 Click Tag Installation under Collection.

#3 Select your Data Stream and click the arrow at the right.

#4 Open the Add new on-page tag section under Tagging instructions.

#5 Choose the Global site tag (gtag.js) option and copy your new gtag.js code.

#6 Copy this global site tag code into the <head> section of your website.

#7 For the time being, keep your current Universal Analytics code active.

DebugView in GA4

DebugView enables you to view the data received by your Google Analytics 4 property to make sure that the tracking is working perfectly.

First, start by enabling the Preview mode in Google Tag Manager. You should be able to see the new GA4 tag among tags that fired. It’s now time to test your events after setting them up.

Go to the Configure part on the left side of the GA4 interface and click on the Debug View.

Once you open the interface of the Debug view, don’t be surprised if the report is empty.

The debug data is visible once the debug mode is enabled in GA4, which can be done in a few ways:

  • Install and enable the GA debugger Chrome extension
  • Send a debug_mode parameter with the event.
  • Enable Google Tag Manager’s Preview mode on a page that you’re debugging.

Go to the Chrome web store and install the Google Analytics Debugger plugin if you want the first option. Once you install it, click on its icon to make sure it says ON. You should be able to see your events now coming into DebugView from this moment on.

The next option is to send a debug_mode parameter with each event you want DebugView to display. Go to Google Tag Manager, and open the GA4 Configuration tag. Add the debug_mode parameter in the Field name and add true to the Value field.

Last but not least is the enabled Preview mode in GTM. However, since we’re actively working with Google Tag Manager, the Preview mode is already on. The debug_mode will be true, and data will begin appearing in GA4 DebugView.

When you begin seeing data in DebugView, you can click on each event, and a list of parameters will appear. To learn more about the value that GA4 received from this parameter, select it and see what was displayed.

However, keep in mind that there may be a delay between when an event takes place on a website and when it is visible in DebugView. That can mean waiting for a few minutes until the data occurs. Also, if that happens, try refreshing the DebugView’s page.

GA4 Realtime Reports

GA4 Realtime reports are where the data from your reports will be presented. You can find Realtime Reports on the left sidebar of the GA4, go to the Reports snapshot and click the Realtime section. 

You’ll notice that, compared to Universal Analytics, this new report comes with capabilities to see data on a much deeper level.

In another post, we compared the differences between GA4 and UA. Check it out before migrating fully to Google Analytics 4.

On the first look, you’ll see a map with information such as the number of users in the last 30 minutes, traffic sources, most popular events, etc.

When you click the View user snapshot button in the top right corner, you get to see the snapshot of an individual user.

You can view a stream of all events for that user, and you may click on them (just like in DebugView) to get a more detailed view. You can go to the following user/visitor snapshot by clicking the arrow button.

Google Signals for GA4

Google Signals enables advertisers to monitor the cross-device behavior of their users by collecting data from those who have signed in and enabled ad personalization on one Google account.

Google Signals is a powerful tool for marketers who want to track their campaigns’ performance across different devices and platforms. Once you active it, Google Signals can help you remarket visitors with tailored messages and analyze users by age group or gender interest.

Without Google Signals
With Google Signals

Because this feature is NOT enabled by default in GA4, here are the steps to activate Google Signals for your property:

#1 Go to the Admin section of your GA4 property.

#2 Then, click Data Settings under Property.

#3 Click on Data Collection.

#4 Open & go through the Google Advertising Features Policy.

Because it’s essential to know what you and your company agree to, read this policy carefully. And if you agree…

#5 Click on the Get Started button.

#6 Then the Continue button.

#7 Finally, click on the Activate button

The screen should look like this now.

And if you ever want to disable Google Signals in GA4, all you need to do is switch off the knob that says Enable Google Signals data collection.

But for now… Wait for 24h. There is a delay in Google Analytics 4 for initial data to be received.

#8 After the 24h have passed, open the home page of your GA4 reporting view.

#9 Scroll to Demographics, click on the drop-down menu, and select Demographics Overview:

#10 You should be able to see populated data.

Congratulations! You’ve reached another milestone in the process!

If you can see users’ genders, interests, and ages on Google Signals data, then it means that your GA4 reports are now starting to flow with helpful information about who’s visiting you online. 

Make sure not to miss out on any of those insights by reviewing these reports regularly to know what needs improving or adjusting.

How To Connect Your GA4 Property with Google Ads?

Connect your GA4 property with Google Ads by following these four simple steps:

#1 Make sure you have the Edit permission on the GA4 property that you wish to connect to your Google Ads account(s).

#2 Make sure you have the Admin level of access to the Google Ads account(s) to which you wish to connect your GA4 property. Keep in mind that you may link up to 20 Google Ads accounts with your GA4 property.

#3 Go to your Google Analytics 4 property.

#4 Scroll down a bit and click on the Admin button on the bottom left sidebar:

#5 Click on Google Ads Links below the Property column.

You’ll see an overlay like this:

#6 Now click the Link button.

#7 Then, click Choose Google Account.

#8 You can now select one or more Google Ads accounts you wish to connect with GA4 property by clicking the Confirm button.

Keep in mind: You will only see accounts from Google Ads that you have admin access to.

#9 Select and click Next.

After that, you’ll see a screen like this where you’ll have the option to disable Personalized Advertising and Auto-Tagging.

When you disable Personalized Advertising, your GA4 audience list and remarketing events/parameters will not be published to the Google Ads account you’ve just linked.

And when you disable Auto Tagging, GA will not automatically associate Google Ads data with user clicks:

We recommend that you keep both enabled, like so:

#10 Click on the Next button.

#11 Go through the settings once more and Submit.

You should have received a notification that confirms your GA4 property is linked in GAds. 

Don’t forget that Google Ads may take up to 24hrs before displaying data in the platform.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it, our complete guide to setting up Google Analytics 4. If you are just starting with web analytics or an experienced user of GA looking to switch over to the new interface, this guide has everything covered.
We hope that by following these simple steps, your data will be correctly collected, and triggers will work as they should so that you can start gaining insights into your website’s performance.

Have you set up GA4 yet? What challenges did you come across? Let us know!

Follow us on —> https://diligent.biz/ for more!

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