Website Tracking and Reporting
Google Analytics 4 Transition
University Relations and ITS have been in the process of transitioning the campus from using Universal Analytics (UA) to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) and preparing for the sunsetting of UA in July 2023.
From May 2022 to June 2023, main campus GA4 codes were added to live ucr.edu Drupal sites on a rolling basis, and both the UA and GA4 codes were running concurrently to maximize our tracking. Future sites that are spun up will have the main campus GA4 codes added automatically by ITS.
As of July 2023, UA codes are now no longer processing hits and we are now officially only using GA4 codes on our websites. Please see below for more GA4 resources.
If additional customization is desired, campus partners have the option to create and implement their own Google Analytics property and Google Tag Manager container. Please reach out to University Relations’ Marketing Data Manager (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics (GA) is a web analytics service used to track user behavior on websites with the GA tracking code configured. GA includes features that can help identify trends and patterns in how visitors engage with our websites.
What is Google Analytics 4?
GA4 is not an “upgrade” to UA. It is a completely new version of GA that processes data based on a different model. GA4 is an event-based model, whereas UA is a session-based model. Google recommends against comparing UA and GA4 metrics due to the different models.
Why did we transition to Google Analytics 4?
UA stopped processing data in July 2023. Historical data in UA will be available in the platform up to 6 months after July 2023 (so, up until end of December 2023).
One of the reasons that Google is discontinuing UA is to address data privacy concerns. Per Google, “UA was built for a generation of online measurement that was anchored in the desktop web, independent sessions and more easily observable data from cookies.” By not relying exclusively on cookies and using an event-based data model, GA4 can operate across multiple platforms (e.g., web, iOS apps, Android apps). This makes GA4 a more future-proof solution.
What did the campus-wide transition to Google Analytics 4 look like?
We used the transition from UA to GA4 as an opportunity to restructure our campus GA account(s) to be more centralized. We are now using two main GA4 codes to track traffic across the entire ucr.edu domain (all live sites hosed on Drupal), with the ability to drill down into specific websites using our report filters.
We also moved away from advising campus partners to use the native GA reporting as a default and developed a more curated dashboard for a better user experience called the Web Analytics for Campus Partners Dashboard (see below for more details and steps to access). Advanced GA users are still welcome to use the GA platform for research and reporting purposes, if desired.
Trainings and Resources
Process Documentation/Job Aids
Campus Partner Essentials
Google Analytics 4 Guide – Basics - Comprehensive overview of Google Analytics 4, including a detailed breakdown of the transition, basic Google Analytics 4 concepts and features, and an optional section for advanced Google Analytics.
Google Analytics 4 Guide – Campus Partner Essentials - High-level summary of all campus partners need to know about GA4 reporting, simplified and easy to learn for all users.
Web Analytics for Campus Partners (GA4) Dashboard – Interactive dashboard to easily access and view key GA4 metrics for websites and pages, crafted with the campus partner perspective in mind; email email@example.com for access.
Web Analytics for Campus Partners (UA) Dashboard - Interactive dashboard to easily access and view key UA metrics for websites and pages; based on historical data saved from Universal Analytics into the campus's data warehouse in August 2023; email firstname.lastname@example.org for access.
(Links last updated: Wednesday, 10/11/23)
Advanced Google Analytics
Google Analytics 4 Guide – Creating and Using A Comparison or Segment for Reporting - Process documentation on how to view site analytics/reporting for your program area using comparisons/segments within the native Google Analytics platform.
Google Analytics 4 Guide – Confirming Your Tracking Codes Work - Process documentation on how to use Google tools to ensure your Google Analytics tracking codes are processing traffic/views correctly on your site(s).
Google Analytics Guide – Tracking Campaign Traffic with UTM Links - Process documentation on how to track campaign performance using UTM parameters, which are little snippets added to the end of a URL to see details such as campaign name, medium, source, and more.