In fact, we should all start changing the way we do things from now on, so it would be more correct to say that anyone who has not revisited their data strategy by 1st July will be caught out in the cold!
Because that is the day Google drops its current ‘Universal’ Analytics and replaces them with Google Analytics 4 – GA4.
And no, it’s not just an upgrade – it’s a whole new approach to understanding your performance online. Because that is the date when Chrome stops providing 3rd party cookies by default, and when Google Universal Analytics stops collecting data.
Why is this? Because Google need to take increasing account of mobile and cross-platform data (eg apps) in order to be meaningful. Plus, it’s a response to the privacy laws embodied in GDPR – it’s been a long time coming!
Graham Hansell of CIM suggested the following three steps in his recent Webinar (‘Supercharge your SEO and first-party data strategy’, 18.5.22):
B Move to a more first party data collection policy
C Set up robust consent management systems
A) Audit: this is pretty self-explanatory. Work out what you’ve got and itemise it.
B) Data collection policy: you will need to be able to combine your CRM with a new CDP – or Customer Data Platform to the uninitiated – which supplies tracking info on all those unknown leads, as well as supplying data feeds for marketing targeting and messaging.
C) Consent Management System: this must be at the core of your data collection, as it is vital that you are able to prove consent in all its forms.
Since Google accounts for over 90% of all online searches we all have to take the advent of GA4 seriously. There are many changes, the most popular for me being that ‘Bounce Rate’ is at last disappearing, to be replaced with ‘Engagement Rate’, a move I have long advocated (well okay, maybe ‘advocated’ is a bit strong, so let’s go for ‘wished for’!).
Organic SEO needs to adapt to take account of the new GA4, and this will take time. Perhaps we should start asking ourselves the question: do we need to be collecting stats on everything, or should we rather be just getting what we need?