What digital marketers should know about Google Analytics 4
Google Analytics 4 (or GA4) is a completely new version of Google Analytics. The goal of this post is to share the key differences between Google Analytics 4 and the previous version of Google Analytics that you are probably familiar with and highlight the key features that you should be aware of as a Digital Marketer.
What makes Google Analytics 4 unique
If you were around back in 2013 you might remember when the last version of Google Analytics was launched, called “Universal Analytics”. At that time, you needed to update your tracking code to migrate to the new version, but everything else stayed pretty much the same.
Unfortunately, this is not true about the upgrade to Google Analytics 4. Data is collected differently, stored differently, and even visualized differently. All of this change can be frustrating, but GA4 is quite a bit more advanced than the previous version. Those Digital Marketers who migrate to the new version will be rewarded with an Analytics tool that provides a better representation of user behavior, respects user privacy preferences, and allows you to spend less time collecting and aggregating data.
This is possible because of three technologies that Google has been working on for the past few years.
From goals to conversion events
As you may recall, a user completes a goal in Google Analytics when they take some action during their session. If the action is taken multiple times during the session, we would still only count that as a single goal completion.
GA4 has eliminated the concept of a goal and replaced it with conversion events.
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Google is hiring a Search Quality Analyst to fight search spam
Google is hiring a new Search Quality Analyst who would work on fighting spam in the Google Search results. A new job posting by Google is currently accepting applications, the job seems to require you to be available to work on-site at the Mountain View, California office.
Job details. The job description defines the job of a Search Quality Analyst as someone who “will be working to measure and prevent inorganic user behavior through enforcement and development of our webmaster guidelines.” It also requires you to “support search ranking launches through qualitative and quantitative analyses.” As a Search Quality Analyst, Google said, “you will solve problems across data sets, with the power of Google’s technology to identify issues occurring in Google Search and related product areas.”
Make a difference. Google said this job will make a difference and have a “direct impact on users every day.” Plus you will get to work “closely with engineers and other analysts to launch algorithms and lead efforts that improve the overall search experience.” In short, you get to understand the search ranking algorithms in a deeper way and actually work on overall search quality.
Responsibilities. Google lists out these are the core responsibilities of the job:
- Prevent abuse of Google Search by analyzing search trends, identifying inorganic activity, and developing solutions.
- Solve analytical problems and apply analytical methods as needed within datasets.
- Engage cross-functionally with a wide variety of people and teams. Work closely with Engineers and Analysts to lead the development of long-lasting solutions.
- Prepare and present recommendations to multiple levels of stakeholders.
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Google’s New Business Profile: When Search Becomes a Political Tool
Google recently rebranded Google My Business as “Business Profile.” They have been heavily promoting the new name and features via email to get small businesses to interact with the new search and maps interface. Clicking though I discovered Google had an additional and more nefarious use for this campaign.
I was shocked that the first call to action wasn’t an invitation to edit my listing or even an incentive to buy Google Ads. It was a call to support Google’s fight against possible antitrust regulations.
With all of the buzz around the rebranding, Google apparently couldn’t resist the opportunity, however brazen, deceptive and totally misguided, to enlist the small business community in its antitrust fights.
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Google Confirms Intrusive Interstitials Ding Will Apply To Desktop Sites
With the Google page experience update coming to desktop sites in February 2022, that means that intrusive interstitials as a signal will also apply to desktop sites. John Mueller of Google confirmed this on Twitter saying “Yes, that’s my understanding. Essentially all of the Page Experience factors would then apply to desktop too.”
One of the factors of the page experience update is to not have intrusive interstitials. While that first only launched as a mobile signal back well before the page experience update – back in 2016-2017 – it will now apply to desktop sites.
Here is where Glenn Gabe pointed it out and John Mueller confirmed:
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SEOs Feel That Optimizing for Page Experience Wasn’t Worth It
When Google’s Page Experience update began rolling out in June, SEOs were sold the dream that this would be what pushed them ahead of their competitors on SERPs.
Many of us had spent months optimizing for Core Web Vitals and other page experience ranking signals, and if you were one of them, you know that it was anything but easy. In fact, preparing for Page Experience was such a massive undertaking that Google gave us an unprecedented amount of forewarning – a full year – to get our sites up to scratch. For a search engine that loves nothing more than pulling the rug out from under us, this seemed to signal that the update would be colossal.
So, we got to work, and we worked for months. A reward for our efforts was dangled like a carrot – but, as George Nguyen at Search Engine Land pointed out in a blog, many SEOs feel this reward was never received.
Now that the Page Experience update has been live for a couple of days shy of two months, we can begin to evaluate the effects. And it’s safe to say that very few SEOs, if any, have seen significant ranking changes since Core Web Vitals became a set of ranking signals. Even sites that originally had terrible scores and managed to get them all in the green barely reaped a single reward, and many are saying the time investment simply wasn’t worth it.
Read more: SEOs Feel That Optimizing for Page Experience Wasn’t Worth It