Posted on April 6, 2023 by Matt George Moore Content writers need to stay in the know when it comes to new iterations of the search engine algorithms that rank our content and display it for users. During my prep for the Google Analytics 4 (GA4) certification course, I learned a few things that I thought were worth sharing. GA4 is the fourth iteration of Google Analytics, and it’s designed to provide more comprehensive data and insights into website performance. GA4 relies on machine learning algorithms to deliver a 360-degree view of customer interactions with websites, apps, and other touchpoints. The platform is geared toward businesses of all sizes and offers a range of features to help us track and analyze performance. It’s crucial for content marketers to understand the changes contained within GA4 and to learn how to utilize its capabilities on behalf of clients. It’s also crucial for businesses themselves to learn how to harness the power of GA4 in order to bring their wares to the forefront of the digital market in the first place. Content Performance and Measurement As digital marketers, we need to track sales, conversions, and more in order to better tailor our messaging. Business owners track those same data points in order to adjust and reallocate ad spend moving forward. With every search revamp, content writers are tasked with determining the most fruitful ways to provide value for our clients. The insights provided to content writers and SEOs by GA4 specifically should allow us to craft targeted content campaigns that are even better tailored to the preferences, purchasing journeys, and search intents of our readers. This blog is not meant to be a primer or cheat sheet for the course certification. Rather, it’s a short list of some of the basics I learned while I was getting ready to take (and pass!) the GA4 certification. One last note before digging in: Keep in mind that this information was taken from the Google ecosystem, which naturally puts the most positive spin on the information provided. It remains to be seen whether GA4 is a boon or a boondoggle for digital marketers. As always, our creativity as digital marketing experts will ultimately determine the levels of success we’re able to achieve for our clients — regardless of platform. About GA4 Google touts Google Analytics 4 (GA4) as “the next generation of Analytics.” It replaces Universal Analytics properties, which will cease to process new hits on July 1, 2023. According to Google, “GA4 is a new property designed for the future of measurement. (It) collects both website and app data to better understand the customer journey; uses event-based data instead of session-based; includes privacy controls, such as cookieless measurement, and behavioral and conversion modeling; (its) predictive capabilities offer guidance without complex models (while) direct integrations to media platforms help drive actions on your website or app.” As of March 2023, Google has probably already created Google Analytics 4 properties for you if you haven’t already set up one for yourself. Google’s recent “helpful content update,” provided a new foundation upon which we content writers will craft content that’s “original,” and “written by people, for people” so that it rises to the top of SERPs. Now with GA4, we can better measure the impact of that content and uncover insights into trends and performance alongside our more traditional marketing efforts. Regulations Changing Search Three emerging trends impact modern search as we now understand it: awareness and expectation of user privacy the “cookieless world” (browsers no longer supporting cookies) global laws regulating user data collection Biggest Changes with GA4 Events In previous iterations, Google Analytics grouped data into sessions. With GA4, however, events will form the basis of all reporting. Google tells us that events enable us to measure “a specific interaction or occurrence on your website or app. For example, you can use an event to measure when someone loads a page, clicks a link, or completes a purchase, or to measure system behavior, such as when an app crashes or an impression is served.” Fragmented Journeys: Apps, Web, Both GA4 combines web and app reporting to generate one measurement experience. It focuses on user-centric measurements. This means it allows businesses to track customer behavior and interactions across different devices and platforms. This gives marketers a more holistic view of their target audience and helps them understand how users engage with their website and content. The last time you made an online purchase, how many websites, platforms, and mobile apps did you use as resources before making a decision? I ask because your own recent online buying experience is illustrative of just how fragmented and complex modern customer purchasing journeys can be. GA4 seeks to stitch together all these fragmented, cross-platform journeys in order to provide marketers and businesses with actionable insights. These fragmented journeys will continue to transform all types of digital marketing, including blog posts, affiliate marketing, social media marketing, email marketing, and content marketing in general. For content marketing teams specifically, it will likely require us to rethink the ways in which our online marketing efforts and our digital media and digital marketing strategies can attract and capture potential customers for our clients’ products or services. Advanced machine learning and data modeling Automation and machine learning advance at exponential speed. The three emerging search trends listed above affect how much and how often platforms receive user signals. Marketers and businesses need to understand and comply with data protection laws. That means platforms must utilize machine learning in order to create actionable data models. GA4’s data-driven attribution models rely on machine learning to better understand and provide insight into the user journey. In order to perform at a high level, content marketers must understand the nuances between the new models and previous iterations of analytics. In short, data modeling effectively simulates user signals for use in many different scenarios. As the modeling becomes more powerful and sophisticated, it will learn to develop accurate models that provide valuable insights without the need for direct input from users themselves. Driving Business Growth: GA4 and You How are you planning to make use of GA4 to boost your clients’ digital efforts and engage their audiences more effectively? What advanced reporting features do you think will provide you with insights into key metrics, such as conversion rates, bounce rates, and session duration? How will you capture users who have previously shown an interest in your clients’ products or services — or your own products or services? In today’s fast-paced digital world, every business’ success depends largely on its ability to identify and address consumer needs effectively. At its core, GA4 offers businesses the ability to access their most valuable data quickly and easily. We can track conversions, user engagement, and audience demographics better than before. All these insights can be used to develop targeted marketing campaigns that are more effective in driving business growth. Content writers and SEOs always look for ways to optimize content and reach target audiences more effectively. Some of the tried-and-true tactics remain the same. For instance, by analyzing user engagement insights, content writers can determine which pieces of content and keywords are most searched for by a target audience. With this information, we can tailor our overall content strategies to include additional content on related topics. This makes it more likely that our content will rank high on search engines. With the new insights provided by GA4, content writers can craft content campaigns that are even more aligned with the preferences, purchasing journeys, and search intents of users (readers). In other words, we can reach users where they are and when they are there. All in all, it should help us create more engaging content that resonates with target audiences and drives conversions, engagement, brand loyalty, and sales. What have you learned during your prep for the upcoming GA4 (r)evolution?