Google Analytics 4 & organic traffic data: A quick discussion with Marie Haynes and Dana DiTomaso

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Semantic SEO & E-A-T: An in-depth discussion with Marie Haynes & Olaf Kopp

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A summary of the #LearnSEO Twitter chat where Marie and Dana discuss Google Analytics 4 for SEOs who have little to no experience using it. 

In this chat we discuss the following topics:

About Dana Ditomaso

Dana is President & Partner at Kick Point, where she helps people and teams do better marketing. Alongside the team at Kick Point, Dana pushes people and teams to set goals and track data so that they understand what strategies and tactics bring value and what is just a waste of money. Dana speaks at conferences about reporting and analytics, SEO, and brand building and is the weekly technology columnist on CBC Edmonton AM. 


About Marie Haynes

marie haynes in black and white

Marie is the founder of MHC, a digital marketing agency that specializes in understanding and improving website quality in Google’s eyes. MHC is known for their work on improving E-A-T and all other aspects of site quality.

How do you replicate the organic traffic chart in Google Analytics 4?

Marie: In Universal Analytics, we could easily look at organic traffic to a website and pinpoint whether it changed on the date of a known Google update. Can we replicate this chart or something similar in Google Analytics 4?

Dana: Yes, if you go to Reports > Acquisition > User or Traffic Acquisition and then click on the Organic Search dot below the “over time” chart to highlight that line.

The difference between User Acquisition vs Traffic Acquisition – user is users (if you have a login or if Google Signals is actually able to identify users), and traffic is sessions.

If you want to only show organic, click the “Add Comparison” button at the top, select Include Dimension “Session Medium”, pick organic, and then apply. You can then remove the “All Users” button at the top if you only want to see organic.

Additionally, you can customize any report in Google Analytics 4 by clicking the pencil icon at top right and then selecting what dimensions/metrics and charts you want to see. That can make this process a bit easier for repeat visits.

How do you compare year over year data in Google Analytics 4?

Marie: In Universal Analytics, we often compare fluctuations in traffic with the previous year’s traffic to determine if the site was impacted by an algorithmic update or any other possible explanation in year over year traffic changes. Can we compare year-over-year data in Google Analytics 4 the same way we would in Universal Analytics?

Dana: Yes you can! In the date control there is a “compare” slider, click that and then select your comparison period. I particularly enjoy the “match day of week” option which was not in Universal Analytics.

The trick here is that you need to set up Google Analytics 4 ASAP so that you can start building data for a year-over-year comparison!

Can we still use our downloaded data from Universal Analytics?

Marie: If we downloaded our data from Universal Analytics, will we be able to actually use it once the Universal Analytics interface goes away?

Dana:  The question is “use it where” — there are some analytics alternatives who are offering or will offer Universal Analytics imports, but who you pick will depend on what you want to do. Likely the most flexible method is to get the data into BigQuery and report in Google Data Studio.

There are definitely several tool providers out there right now working on solutions for the Universal Analytics data problem, and I will be sure to post about them as we test them out or hear positive experiences about them from other people.

How do you connect Google Analytics 4 with Google Search Console?

Marie: Can we connect Google Analytics 4 and Search Console? If so, what can we do with this data?

Dana: Yes you can! Go into the admin (wheel at the bottom left), select “Search Console Links”, click Link, find your profile, select your web stream (you’ll probably only have one!), and then Submit. After a delay, you should see a new Search Console section in your Reports tab.

Right now the only 2 reports provided by default are Queries and Google Organic Search Traffic. There’s more information about the data in these reports here (However, I still really prefer blending GA data with GSC data in Google Data Studio.)

What are some alternatives to using Google Analytics 4?

Marie: I’ve heard several people say that Google Analytics 4 is not designed for SMBs. Will you be recommending a move to a different software for analytics for some of your clients? If so, which one(s) are you considering?

Dana: I would agree with that – I think SMBs are going to struggle with this interface and most business owners will need someone internally / an agency that can help them out. We are testing Fathom and Matomo but I’m sure more recommendations will come up as well. 

Keep in mind: tracking is getting harder, not easier and the analytics tool you use won’t fix that. Between ITP (Safari, Firefox), ad blockers, etc — people do not want to be tracked, so you’re making decisions based on less data. Look at trends, not absolutes!

 

Marie: Thank you Dana for chatting! You can get her course to help you migrate to Google Analytics 4 here.

Follow us on Twitter to join us for the next edition of #LearnSEO!