Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the latest version of Google’s web analytics platform that promises more advanced insights about your website’s traffic and performance. It has been around for a couple of years. But before July 1, 2023, using it was a choice. Google gave you a choice between using Universal Analytics (UA) or GA4. But that choice is no more. As of July 1, 2023, Universal Analytics is no more. RIP. End of an era.
Now users do not have a choice and are forced to use Google Analytics 4.
Despite a hard sell by Google for the last couple of years, many SEOs, marketers, and webmasters are not happy with it. Actually, they HATE it.
Everywhere I turn, people are talking about how much they hate GA4. There aren’t too many people I’ve talked to that are happy with it.
So what’s with all the hate for GA4? Well here are some of the most frequent reasons people are hating on GA4.
Confusing User Interface
The new interface of GA4 has been criticized for its complexity and baffling design. Many users find it challenging to navigate, and some of the important features are difficult to locate. Unlike the former version where you could easily access the data you needed, GA4’s user interface tends to distract and confuse users. Many marketers lamented that this new version looked like an enterprise-focused tool when all they needed was basic analytics. And honestly, this is what GA4 is marketed as—a tool to follow your customer’s journey through multiple platforms and domains/subdomains.
Many beloved users of Universal Analytics were just webmasters who just wanted to look at daily traffic stats—where their users were coming from and what pages they were visiting. That was very easy to ascertain before GA4. But GA4’s focus on advanced metrics has made viewing such basic data a painstakingly complicated feat.
Universal Analytics was already a steep learning curve, even for seasoned users. Now, users will have to learn the platform all over again. But now, it’s even a steeper learning curve.
Limitations in Segmentation
In GA4, user segmentation is limited as compared to the previous version. UA offered more flexibility in terms of segmentation because it allowed the user to:
- Create custom segments from any user behavior
- Apply to reports
- Apply to historical data
- Apply conditions and sequences to segments
The inability to create complex segments and conditions can restrict the data interpretation, making it difficult to achieve specific insights.
Reports with Limited Historical Data
One of the things that users hate about GA4 is the limitations it has on historical data. Unlike the previous version, GA4 can only track data for up to 14 months, which makes historical reporting more difficult. This might not be an issue for some businesses, but for long-term businesses that rely on historical data, it could lead to important losses. For instance, if you were to sell your online business, buyers would want to look at your analytics for the last few years. With GA4, getting three years’ worth of data is not as easy or straightforward as changing your date range.
Lack Of Seamless Transition From UA
When you are converting from UA to GA4, there is no help in seamlessly recreating your reports, dashboards, goals/events, etc. You essentially have to start all over again and learn to recreate everything in GA4.
Google Analytics 4 is a one-of-a-kind analytics platform that provides advanced features for users to implement data-driven strategies. However, SEOs and webmasters have several reasonable concerns regarding its functionality and usability. From the confusing user interface to limited e-commerce data, it is clear that GA4 is still in its infancy stage. Users who find the platform challenging should continue to provide feedback to help Google make the necessary changes to meet the needs of its users. Despite its drawbacks, GA4 remains an excellent platform that can provide substantial insights, and when used correctly, can help businesses thrive.
The impetus for sunsetting Universal Analytics and some of the changes seen in GA4 is that we are moving towards a cookieless world on the internet. So GA4 is made with first-party and zero-party data in mind. And that may explain some of the convoluted choices Google made with GA4 in terms of metrics, reporting, and interface.