GA4 - Activate and set up in six steps

Activate and set up GA4

Step 1 - Prepare old UA property

On July 1st, if a UA property has not been migrated to GA4, Google will automatically set up a GA4 property. This is not a good idea. GA4 is very different to UA. It needs to be set up to your specific needs. Automatic set up may (and probably will) apply settings not appropriate to your requirements. Automatic set up needs to be turned off.

  • Log in to your UA property and go to the Admin section -> GA4 Setup Assistant
log in to admin section of UA property
  • Turn off Automatically set up a basic Google Analytics 4 property.
toggle automatic GA4 creation off
  • Further up in the Setup Assistant, DO NOT create your property using the Get Started button under 'I want to create a new Google Analytics 4 property based on this UA property'. The property will be linked after the setup process.
do not select start now button

Create GA4 property

We will now create your GA4 property.

  • Still from the UA Admin section, click the + Create Property button.
Create property button

On the Create property screen, fill in the required information:

  • Property name;
  • Reporting time zone;
  • Currency.
create a property

Click Next.

You will be asked to Describe your business, Industry category and business size.

describe business

Click Next.

You will then be asked to Choose your business objectives.

You can select one or all of the top four or Get baseline reports. For now, I would select the baseline reports option.

choose business objectives

Click Create. In essence, your property has now been created. The next step is creating a Data stream.

Step 3 - Create data stream

In step 2, we created a property. You will be shown the Start collecting data screen. This is where you start setting up your data stream. You can come back to this later.

  • Choose a platform - Web
choose web stream

The Set up data stream screen will be shown. Fill in your website URL (specifically select https://) and Stream name. Leave Enhanced measurement on.

fill in stream details

Click Create stream.

You will be shown an Installations instructions screen. Because we are using Google Tag Manager (GTM), we choose the Install manually option.

installation instructions

You can close the Installation instructions screen, as we will use the MEASUREMENT ID number from the Web streams details screen.

stream measurement id screen

We will now set up Google Tag Manager (GTM), which is Step 4.

Step 4 - Set up Google Tag Manager (GTM)

Log in to your GTM account and go to Tags. Select New.

create new tag

In the New tag screen, click Tag Configuration. Select Google Analytics GA4 Configuration.

select GA4 configuration

Enter your MEASUREMENT ID from the GA4 property Stream details screen. See Step 3.

Click Triggering.

select a trigger

Select All Pages.

select all pages

Name the tag along the lines of GA4 Configuration all_pages. Click Save.

name and save the tag

Click Preview.

preview the new tag

This is now the Tag Assistant debug process. Enter your website address for which we are setting up the GA4 property. NOTE: The site needs to be enabled with GTM.

Click Connect.

enter web address and connect

Your target site will show in a new tab. Tag Assistant will show if it is connected for debugging.

target site opens in new tab

Come back to Tag Assistant and click Continue.

click continue

If successful, you will see that the GA4 tag has fired.

GA4 tag has fired

Close Tag Assistant windows and go back to Tag Manager. Click Submit. This will publish the new tag.

publish tag

Enter a name and description for GTM version history. Click Publish to complete the process.

ente a container version name and description

You can now go back to your new GA4 property to do further checks. We will also finish the setup, which is Step 5.

Step 5 - Set up the property

We will now do additional checks to ensure data is being collected. In your new GA4 property, go to the Admin section.

GA4 admin

On your website, click a few pages. This will generate some tag firing activity. In the Property settings scroll to the Debugview. You should see activity.

GA4 debug view

You can also go to the Realtime report in the Reports tab. You should see your activity, and any other, reflected.

realtime report

We can now finish our setup. In Data Settings -> Data Retention, change Event data retention from 2 to 14 months. Click Save.

data retention setting

Go to Reporting Identity, expand the options so that you see Device Based. Use this identity for minimum data modelling. This selection is made for small sites, Google Signals is turned off and Google Ads is not being used. You would experiment with these settings over time. When a change is made, the reports are re-calculated.

reporting identity

Click Save.

In the GA4 property, go to the Setup Assistant. We are going to complete the 0 / 7 marked complete process.

setup assistant progress bar

Under the Data collection, Property settingsand Google Ads sections, mark each as complete. These will be looked at later on in your GA4 journey.

complete the setup assistant progress

You can now link your Search Console if you have one set up. In the property Admin bar, scroll down to Search Console Links. Click Link.

link search console

Select your Search Console property, Web Stream (this GA4 stream), and review and submit.

enter search console details
submit search console details

We will now do the final step, Step 6, which is to link your old UA property to this one. NOTE: this is in the case of 'migrating' a UA property. If you are not migrating, or do not have a UA property to link to, your GA4 property is good to go.

Step six - Final checks

Go to the UA property, Adminsection that you wish to link to GA4. Go to the GA4 Setup Assistant. Under I want to connect to an existing Google Analytics Property, find and select the GA4 property you have just created. If all goes well, you will then see a button Go to your GA4 property.

universal analytics admin screen
go to GA4

By clicking the button, you will be taken to the corresponding Setup Assistant in your GA4 property. Here you will see a reciprocating button back to the UA property.

Go to Universal Analytics button in GA4 admin

If you go to GA4 home, you should see Your data collection is active.

GA4 showing data is being collected

Your are done!

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