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Home » WordPress and Blogging » Sloth Makes a Blog » Should a Sloth Consider Enabling Google Analytics 4?

Should a Sloth Consider Enabling Google Analytics 4?

Zip has installed Google Analytics. But what's this? He now sees a banner in his analytics account informing him about a NEW thing called Google Analytics 4. He thought he was done. Oh...you're NEVER done! Should he enable GA4? Here are some thoughts on the matter and how to proceed.


It’s been a while, but sloths are like that. In the last post, Zip added Google Analytics to his website using a plugin. He was ready (or would be ready) to move on to connecting it with Google Search Console.

But wait!

He logs in to Google Analytics and sees a new message:

Google Analytics page with new banner
Silly sloth, you’re NEVER done!

It seems that there’s now something called an “App + Web” property, aka Google Analytics 4 aka GA4. He also notes that he’s had only eight users to his website in the last seven days. But what does he expect with a new blog with a handful of posts and no promotion swimming small in an unfathomable ocean of content?

A sense of disappointment ensues. Adding analytics was complete, or so he thought. Oh, silly sloth, you’re never done. Blogging and using WordPress is another opportunity to learn the lesson of life that change is a constant.

So the question here is should he enable this new thing, this GA4?

Terry Pratchett once said that if there was a big, red button marked something like “End of the Word Button, DO NOT PUSH,” someone would push it. It’s human nature. I’m not sure it’s sloth nature, but, as a human, I pushed that GA4 button, so I have something to say about the matter 1.

So, should I enable Google Analytics 4?

My opinion is: eventually, you’ll need to, but for now, it can wait. GA4, of course, is the way things are going to go, and, eventually, you’ll need to enable it.

But, as I’m writing this in the early part of 2021, many things don’t work with GA4. If you use apps that connect with Google Analytics, they’ll still want your UA property. Google’s own “Site Kit” plugin interacts with UA, not GA4 yet.

What’s the right way to go about enabling GA4 in 2021?

What will happen if Zip enables GA4 is that he’ll still have his old Universal Analytics property, but he’ll also have a new GA4 property.

If he does nothing, his UA property will continue to collect data and will work just fine. But what if he adds GA4?

Right now, I think the best way to go about adding GA4 to your website is to double tag.

Add BOTH GA4 and UA to your website. GA4 will start collecting data, and you’ll be able to transition gradually.

But I wouldn’t wholly transition away from UA yet for the reason I mentioned previously. For Zip, who is, for now, just collecting data on page views, it won’t make too much of a difference. But if you have many different things connected to track data in UA — newsletter clicks, social media links, etc.…, you might have some issues right now.

Zip enables Google Analytics 4

So Zip decides to take the red pill (or is it the blue one?) and go down the rabbit hole of adding GA4 to his website2.

So he clicks. He clicks the link at the top, inviting him to “Learn more.” Then he clicks the link on the next page asking him to “Add a Google Analytics 4 property to a site that already has Analytics.”

Oh, wait; he didn’t need to do that.

In his Google Analytics account, he clicks “Admin.” He clicks, “GA4 Setup Assistant.”

Google Analytics page showing Google Analytics 4 setup assistant

And then he’ll click the blue pill…oops, I meant button, under the words “I want to create a new Google Analytics 4 property.”

Google Analytics 4 Setup Assistant page

After that, he’ll see a popup telling you what enabling GA4 will do. A greyed-out checkbox asks him if he’s like to migrate his existing tags. He doesn’t have any tags that GA could migrate, in his case. He also sees a warning box telling him he’ll need to install new tags. As I said, at this point, I’d advise him to install tags for both UA and GA4. If he does this, it won’t count duplicate site visits. Each property — UA and GA4 — will be collecting separate data.

He hits the “Create Property” button.

enable Google Analytics 4 page

Yay? Property created! He sees another blue button inviting him to “See (his) GA4 Property” and letting him know his property ID.

GA setup assistant page

So he clicks that, which opens the setup assistant in a new tab.

Google Analytics 4 Property setup assistant page

So, there’s a bunch of stuff here. It looks like in GA4, you can even set up custom dimensions to track, similar to what you can do with Google tag manager.

But, for now, he’s concerned with how he’s going to install GA4 on his website.

So he clicks the “Tag installation” selection here, which takes him to a view with hs only “Data Stream, ” which he then clicks.

What pops up here is where he can find his “measurement ID,” kind of like his UA tracking code.

It’s also where he can see variables tracked by default with “Enhanced Measurement.”

Google Analytics 4 web stream details page.

Here, he can find the information to connect his new tag — he can choose from various options. He can select the gtag.js option and stick it in the of his website or add it through Google Tag Manager. He can also choose to connect it with an existing tag.

For now, he’s doing this. He copies down the name of that Measurement ID, goes back to his tab where he still has his Universal Analytics property open and chooses Tracking Info, and then, from the dropdown, Tracking Code.

UA tracking info page

From there, he’ll note a box that says “Connected Site Tags.” He can add that code he copied down here and connect his GA4 property with his UA property.

But that’s not what I do…

For now, Zip is leaving this as-is. But I don’t do things this way. I like to use Google Tag Manager and install the tags for UA and GA4.

So, I’m sorry to say it, Zip, but I’ve decided to go for it right now and go into Google Tag Manager, just a bit before we move on. You’ll likely be happy I did in the long run.

Next up is a post about adding Google Tag manager. We’ll go over a simple configuration of it, because there’s a LOT you can do with it which Zip doesn’t care about (just yet.) After that, we’ll go over adding Google Search Console and then, probably, take a look at Google’s Site Kit and ask if you should use it.

Then, finally, we’ll move on with some stuff that is, perhaps, more fun.

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References and Footnotes
  1. I also want to say I took the red pill and went down the rabbit hole, but a Matrix reference doesn’t seem to exactly fit here.[]
  2. Yep, there’s that metaphor again that just doesn’t work but is too good — and too cliche to keep using[]
Cheryl is a former Occupational Therapist and WordPress enthusiast who became a writer in some parallel universe and occasionally, but infrequently, publishes things in this one. She writes two blogs (or is it three) which she won't quit because she knows that blogs, in her case, are like a hydra and if she cuts one off two more will take its place. When she's not doing that, she enjoys hiking, cycling, kayaking (formerly fast, now ebike), messing around with Adobe illustrator, making assorted things, meditating (though she wouldn't call that "like," and reading. She normally doesn't speak about herself in the third person, but she sometimes uses "we" in the royal sense while writing this blog. She lives in Poulsbo, WA with her spouse, her youngest adult daughter, a very old mutt, and a Siamese cat.
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