Search Update: April 2022

Search Update: April 2022
Photo by Headway / Unsplash

Google Analytics 4 — What’s New in 2022

Universal Google Analytics was rolled out by Google in November 2005, and has been utilized by advertisers for more than 15 years to measure performances and website activities. However, Google is phasing out Universal Google Analytics by July 2023 and replacing it with Google Analytics 4. Additionally, all past data will be deleted 6 months after Oct 1, 2023.  To ensure a smoother transition to Google Analytics 4, advertisers are encouraged by Google to slowly transition now instead of waiting until next year.

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is now officially the recommended property type of Google Analytics because of the many benefits over Universal Google Analytics. One of them being it can track both App and Web visits in a single Google Analytics property instead of having those different platform visits separated into different GA properties. Another benefit of Google Analytics 4 is it uses a different measurement model that is based on events and parameters instead of sessions and pageviews. Unlike Universal Analytics, GA4 creates a single user journey from all the data that is associated with the same user ID. GA4 allows Google to track how a given user actually interacts with your website, thus delivering seamless insights and data-informed decision making.

Besides the major change to the measurement model, Google Analytics 4 also allows advertisers to build a user flow funnel from scratch, making it easier for advertisers to track certain behaviors across the site. More than that, Google Analytics 4 added another function called Audience Trigger that enables advertisers to track conversions that are audience-based. To explain, Audience Triggers can record trigger events when users match the definition of an audience and become members. For example, events will be measured when users reach key milestones like initiating a certain number of sessions or reading a certain number of articles, or crossing conversion thresholds. With these features available, it could be very helpful for e-commerce businesses to track metrics and conversions with a specific customer persona.

Lastly, it is important for advertisers to understand these two different Google properties as well as the key changes in Google Analytics 4. An event-based measurement model could potentially impact how we used to measure and interpret metrics, which will take time for us to adapt to and learn.  However, the benefits of Google Analytics 4 in the long run will give users the flexibility and customization of conversions and goals which will allow for the collection of more customer-centric insights and data, making it beneficial to make the switch sooner than later.  The next step to begin the migration of data from Universal Analytics to GA4 is to create a GA4 property that tracks pageviews and “standard” events, implement KPI related events, implement e-commerce events as well as other custom tracking, and lastly, implement audit and adjust as needed.

Image: Universal Analytics vs. Google Analytics 4

Google Tests Big Changes To Featured Snippets

Google has begun testing some significant changes that will involve its featured snippets, which are “From the web” and “Other sites say”. Both new features could give searchers a more diverse set of sources in the coveted featured snippet position. Featured snippets are normally shown as the top of search results, and are something you have probably seen when searching in Google. The search engine uses them to show users content it thinks answers the searcher’s query. Normally, this will be a blog article that has been written that gives you the details you are looking for.

                              Example: Featured Snippet (Before)

To further explain, ‘From the web’ is a new feature that pulls from approximately three different brief excerpts from two or three different websites to give users more information. The feature also links to the sources of these websites so that searchers can easily click through to them and read more about the topic. The ‘Other sites say’ feature is shown under the original featured snippet format and lists approximately three websites that will also give you more information about the topic you are searching for.

With these new features being tested by Google, searchers may come to see more links on Google Search, which will give more ways for websites to be shown in front of their target audience. However, if you own featured snippets for important keywords, it could potentially reduce traffic to the website and businesses might be sharing the limelight with others if this test rolls out.

As these two new features are being tested out, it can be beneficial for those who currently don’t own a featured snippet as this change gives other sites two additional chances to gain more impressions and drive some more traffic. In addition, we could potentially benefit from this change if the landing page shows up as an option in the featured snippet on certain keywords, thus reducing the cost of paid search campaigns with the same landing page.  And since the site might end up sharing a featured snippet with at least one other site, or potentially up to four other sites, it is crucial for us to provide relevant content and have double exposure from featured snippets and the top organic result as it strengthens credibility as well as legitimacy.

                          Example of “From the web” Feature (After)

                         Example of “Other sites say” Feature (After)