Google Announces Plans To Terminate Universal Analytics in 2023

SEO News You Can Use

Google is gearing up to sunset Universal Analytics and switch to Google Analytics 4 (GA4), the company announced Wednesday last week. Starting July 1, 2023, Universal Analytics will stop processing new data and GA4 will become the standard tool for monitoring website activity.

GA4, dubbed “the next generation of Google Analytics,” has various advantages over its predecessor: 1.) more seamless Google Ads integrations, 2.) enhanced user privacy and 3.) more valuable data and user insights. These added capabilities render Universal Analytics and the model on which it is built obsolete. 

Google stated in the announcement,

Universal Analytics was built for a generation of online measurement that was anchored in the desktop web, independent sessions and more easily observable data from cookies.

Moving on from this outdated methodology, GA4 does away with cookies and uses an event-based data model, allowing it to operate across platforms (websites and apps) and provide cross-platform insights. Forgoing cookies also means more user privacy, which has become increasingly vital for the modern consumer.

GA4 is designed to help marketers ramp up their app installs and sales, generate leads and engage with users more easily than ever. Ultimately, the new and improved property paves the way for more targeted, higher-impact campaigns. 

Before July 1, 2023, marketers can continue collecting and using new data in their Universal Analytics properties. After that, they can still access previously processed data for at least six months. Google says it will later specify a date when existing Universal Analytics properties stop being available. 

If you haven’t prepared for the adoption yet, you have to start now. Setting up your GA4 properties as early as now means you can start tracking metrics that are critical to your campaign. And the earlier you familiarize yourself with GA4’s interface and capabilities, the more equipped you are to make the switch and keep your campaigns running.

More SEO News You Can Use: 

Google Search Central Virtual Unconference To Be Held on April 27: Google announced it would be conducting the third Search Central Unconference on April 27, 2022. The interactive virtual event is not a “typical Search Central Conference” – there are no speakers or presentations. Participants are free to interact and participate in group discussions with other digital marketers, SEOs, website owners, developers and publishers. Each discussion will have one or two facilitators to maintain momentum throughout the session and provide an opportunity for everyone to join the conversation. Anyone can sign up to become a facilitator, but sessions are usually handled by Google employees, product experts or other community members. Each session will also have a limited number of participants to keep the discussion manageable. Google has shared event FAQs and community guidelines but has yet to announce the agenda. Registration starts March 30.

Google Business Profile Reviews Experiencing Glitches: Over the past few weeks, the local SEO community noticed that many reviews were not getting posted on Google Maps and Google Search. One company with more than 700 locations had its review count plummet from 200 reviews to 16 over that period. Last week, a Google spokesperson confirmed to Search Engine Land (SEL) that there were, in fact, issues with reviews not showing up on Google Business Profiles and that the Maps team was working actively to resolve them. After the bug fix, all new reviews that comply with Google Maps review policies should appear as normal. 

Free Hotel Booking Links Are Now Available on Google Search and Google Maps: Google’s free hotel booking links, which were only available within Google Hotel search, are now on Google’s results page and Google Maps. When users click on these links, they’ll be directed to the hotel’s site where they can complete the booking process. Additionally, the feature offers reporting capabilities that allow hotel owners to see how many users clicked on their links and gain a better understanding of how many conversions (bookings) the free listings are bringing them. The Google search engine results page (SERP) and Maps are Google’s two most prominent services, so this new feature could provide hotel businesses with unprecedented visibility and reach. SEL’s George Nguyen notes that while this is exciting news for hotel owners, this could eventually leave services from travel agency sites obsolete. 

Google’s “Refine This Search” and “Broaden This Search” Are Happening: Google confirmed to SEL that it has rolled out “refine this search” and “broaden this search” features in English and U.S.-based search results. Both features let users fine-tune their search by delving deep into a specific topic or zooming out to more general topics. For businesses and search marketers, this means more ways for their prospects to find and discover their sites in Google Search while searching for a particular topic or product. “Things to know” and “things to consider” are not yet live, but the company says it has been testing these out.

Poll Reveals Most SEOs Expect To Lose Traffic Following Site Migration: An overwhelming majority of SEOs believe a site migration could cause some loss in traffic. Freelance SEO consultant Natalie Mott held a Twitter poll with the question, “When you are managing a website migration, do you automatically assume there will be some traffic loss? Why/why not?” The survey garnered 1,346 votes, and 78 percent voted “yes.” A response to the survey offered a more nuanced take on the matter, saying “it depends,” and traffic loss could be prevented if you’re in charge of the whole process from development to design; however, some last-minute redirects would inevitably cause some dip in traffic. SE Roundtable’s Barry Schwartz agrees, stating “it depends on what is actually changing.” A migration entails moving a significant amount of web content to a new domain, but most experienced SEOs can curtail its side effects and keep the losses minimal and temporary. Ultimately, if you’re managing a site migration, Schwartz advises setting the right expectations for your client.

Editor’s Note: “SEO News You Can Use” is a weekly blog post posted every Monday morning only on SEOblog.com, rounding up all the top SEO news from around the world. Our goal is to make SEOblog.com a one-stop-shop for everyone looking for SEO news, education and for hiring an SEO expert with our comprehensive SEO agency directory.

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