What is the basic process for upgrading a Google Analytics UA account to GA4?

The depths of Google Analytics can be a bit overwhelming to people who don't use it on a regular basis.

Upgrading from UA (Universal Analytics) to GA4 means that the casual user will need to go into sections they are not familiar with.

The purpose of the instructions below is to allow a novice to upgrade from UA to GA4, and provide their developer with a code snippet to add to their site.

There are more complex ways to move from UA to GA4, and someone more familiar with Google's intricacies should be able to do tricks like connecting their site tags so that they don't need to upgrade the on-site code at all. Likewise, some people may want to take additional steps such as backing up their UA data, and some on-site changes may need to be made if bespoke events are being fired.

However, the purpose of this article is simply to give someone who only uses Google Analytics for basic out-of-the-box data capture the steps required to get GA4 up-and-running and the core data appearing.

Upgrading to GA4

These steps describe the desktop view.

  • Log into your Google Analytics account and either click the "Go to Setup Assistant" button that appears below the pop-up message about Universal Analytics closing, or alternatively click the Admin button (the cog logo at the bottom left of the screen) followed by "GA4 Setup Assistant" to be taken to the same page.
  • On this page, you'll most likely be wanting the "I want a new Google Analytics 4 property set up for me aligned as much as possible with this property's settings" option, so click the "Create and configure a new property" button below this. A pop-up will appear.
  • Leave "Enable data collection using existing tags" unchecked and then click "Create Property".
  • Click "Go to your GA4" property. If you don't see this button but instead see the message "Contact your admin to access GA4" then hold down control and refresh the page - there is sometimes a bug here which shows this message to admins by mistake and a force refresh usually fixes that.
  • Click the Admin button (the cog logo at the bottom left of the screen).
  • Click "Data Streams" (under "Data collection and modification")
  • I assume there will only be one data stream listed here if this is the first GA4 account you have set up - click that. If there are several data streams listed, click the appropriately titled one for this account.
  • Select "View tag instructions" (bottom of page) and then "Install manually" (top right)
  • Send your developer the code snippet that appears on this page. There is a copy icon next to the code snippet to copy the code snippet to your clipboard.
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