“Does GA4 replace Universal Analytics? Or should I use both?”
Yes 100%, Universal Analytics was sunsetted from 1 July 2023 onwards so you're only option is to now use GA4.
"How easy is it to migrate my account to GA4?"
It is possible to do this yourself. You can migrate either manually or use the GA4 automated migration setup. We would recommend using the manual option as the automated option may not pull across everything, particularly if you had set up your own goals, conversions and so on in UA. You will also need to change your tracking code on your website to the new GA4 tracking it gives you once you are set up.
"I always used to look at our bounce rate but it’s gone, what should I look at now?"
The replacement metric closest to Bounce Rate is now "Engagement Rate". Engagement rate is a more comprehensive metric that takes into account a wider range of user interactions, such as time spent on site, pages viewed, and events triggered. This means that it can provide a more accurate picture of how engaged your users are with your website.
To find your engagement rate, go to the Acquisition > Overview report. The engagement rate will be listed under the User Engagement section.
"Can I still compare data and reports to previous years in GA4?"
Within the existing GA4 reports you can only compare GA4 data to previous years of GA4 data - in other words, you can't compare GA4 data with UA data. Therefore it will depend on when you started using GA4 as to when you will have a full year of data to make the comparisons. Once you have had GA4 tracking for a full year you will then have annual comparisons to the previous year available.
There are workarounds you can use to compare data to previous years like using the GA4 Data Import tool. This tool allows you to import data from UA into GA4. It is important to note that the imported data will not be as complete or accurate as the data that was collected in UA.
"Isn't GA4 technology push versus market pull?"
GA4 is indeed a technology push, rather than being delivered as an option, or requested by users. There are some advantages to a technology push, for example it can help to ensure that all users are using the same platform, which can make it easier for Google to collect data and make improvements.
Time will tell to see if this push of GA4 is a success or failure!
Custom Metrics: "Re customer wine preference. To do that Google insists it have access to my customer details - and that screws with the privacy laws... So how do we get round that?"
The methods to get customer interests and data like wine preferences from Google Analytics 4 (GA4) are done without accessing customer details so the data is anonymous, and therefore complies with privacy laws to protect customer data. The example of using custom dimensions and metrics in GA4 is one of these ways.
If you are concerned about customer privacy, you can also take a more privacy-focused approach to collecting their data. This could involve only collecting data that is strictly necessary for providing your service, or only collecting data with the explicit consent of your customers.
"I use VPNs. Different settings on each device. Does that impact Google Signals, I wonder?"
Yes, using VPNs can impact Google Signals. Any of your website users that use VPNs mask their IP address and location, which can make it difficult for Google to track their activity across different devices and websites. This can make it more difficult for Google to provide them with personalised results and recommendations and as a business means you won't have accurate data from those users.