Google Analytics: Past, Present, and Future

Before we can delve into the particulars of what Google Analytics 4 is and how it can help your business, it’s important to have an understanding of what Google Analytics is in general. As the name suggests, Google Analytics is a free tool provided by Google. It does what most of us don’t want to do, analyzing, collecting, and tracking data, and it does it incredibly well.

If your business has an online presence, this system should be a staple in your online tool box along with search engine optimization (SEO). Keep reading to learn more about the history of Google Analytics, the current state of the system including Google Analytics 4, and what we can expect from the future.


Google Analytics History

Google Analytics was born in the fall of 2005. The initial system was so popular that capacity was reached within a week and those wishing to sign up to use the product afterward were subject to a lottery invitation. It wasn’t until the following year that the service was able to increase its capacity enough that all who wished to use it were able to sign up again.

Since its start in 2005, the original Google Analytics has undergone several software developments. There are actually four different versions of the system: GA1, GA2, GA3, and GA4. Each version of Google Analytics that has been rolled out has stayed true to its original use and purpose: to help online businesses track and manage data — the only difference being how this tool performs its job as technology gets more efficient.

So how exactly does Google Analytics help you track data? Simply put, it gives you an idea of how well your website is performing. This includes crucial information like the number of users visiting your website, how they found your page, what steps they chose to take next, how long they spent looking at your site, and when they decided to leave.


Google Analytics Present

Google Analytics 4 is the latest version of this popular analysis tool, referred to as the next generation of analytics. It was released in the fall of 2020 and, like its predecessors, has been wildly popular from the beginning. One of the goals of this version of Google Analytics is to simplify data collection and review for website managers and business owners. One of the big differences between G4 and the previous versions is mainly in how data is tracked and displayed.

However, there are other differences between GA4 and the past versions. Here are the top three:

  • Combined web and mobile analytics: GA4 goes beyond just website analytics and data and incorporates information from apps as well. It simplifies this process by providing users with one platform to view and manage data from both their website mobile sources.
  • Enhanced event tracking: The latest version of Google Analytics provides its user with additional — and automatic — event tracking and enhanced measurements. This includes information related to video engagement, clicks, scrolling, and downloads.
  • Offers more time-based actions: GA4 offers users more options when it comes to time measurements including an elapsed time feature, which provides insight on the amount of time it takes users to complete tasks and steps, and retargeting features such as temporarily or permanently suspending ads for specific web readers.

The current GA4 is designed to be more customizable to users’ needs, provide a better range of services, and predict future user behavior. 

If you’ve used Google Analytics in the past, you’ll notice a more comprehensive view of what goes on when customers visit your site or your app. If you haven’t used Google Analytics before, now is great time to start with GA4 so you can understand what’s happening behind the scenes on your website and learn where you can make improvements.

GA4 brings a lot of benefits to your company. It provides the best analytics and data tracking software available in a simple-to-use platform that carefully integrates with Google Ads and accounts for future privacy protection laws and cookie restrictions. Bottom line, it saves you time and provides crucial data related to your company’s future growth and sales.


Google Analytics Future

While GA4 provides new insight and time-saving measures, it can’t do everything. You’ll still need someone to interpret the data and make any necessary changes within your company and your marketing or advertising campaign. However, used in careful combination with SEO, GA4 will provide invaluable insight into how your business can proceed into the future and what steps you need to take. 

GA4 is designed to be future proof with its considerations of privacy laws and cookie/cookieless tracking. If you’re currently using GA3, it’s recommended to start using GA4 concurrently with GA3 as a way to familiarize yourself with the new version until you’re ready to fully make the switch. This also gives you time to wait for GA4 to fully mature and build more of your data to work with.

To learn more about how to use GA4 with your online marketing campaign or about how to build online success for your business, reach out to the Grow Team.