December 1, 2023
Now that Universal Analytics (UA) is a thing of the past (and dearly missed), most of us have gotten acquainted with Google Analytics 4 (GA4). Or…at least we’re all getting there. There’s been more than a few changes (yes, we know), but there are plenty of ways to make the tool work for you. Love it or hate it, you can use the new Google Analytics to improve your content marketing efforts. Here’s how.
For those not in the trenches with metrics, let’s start at the beginning. Google Analytics is an SEO and tracking tool that allows you to better understand how visitors interact with your website. The metrics in GA can help you make marketing decisions, understand why people visit your website, and learn more about your audience. It gives you important metrics like the number of return visitors, which pages and posts are the most popular, how long visitors stay on your site, and how many pages on your website the average person visits.
You can also set up goals to measure conversion opportunities. So, think of Google Analytics as a partner tool in your content marketing strategy.
Over the years, GA has evolved but continues to provide valuable insights into SEO and content marketing performance. But its latest iteration, Google Analytics 4, can be a bit of a headache. To combat this, you’ll need to know which metrics are which, what to look for, and where you can find the data your team needs most.
Read more about it: Google Analytics: Everything You Need To Know
GA4 is the newest version of the Google Analytics tool. And GA4 isn’t really as new as you might think. This version actually launched back in October 2020. So, any new businesses that were set up on Google Analytics after this date automatically received GA4. The only ones impacted by the 2023 change are the analytics accounts set up before October 2020.
While UA provided tons of valuable information about your website, GA4 provides even more — even if it seems a little counter-intuitive. For the most part, Google usually hits the mark with user experience, but GA4 can get a bit tricky. With a few key features, though, you can use GA4 to help determine your next content marketing moves.
We could get into the nitty-gritty of the technical aspects of both Google Analytics versions, but you don’t need to be an expert in all those facets to understand how this affects your content marketing plans. That said, here are some differences you’ll want to be aware of:
In the UA setup, you received metrics based on sessions, and it broke sessions down further with metrics like page views and transactions. In GA4, you can still track user activity, but each click, scroll, or hover is a separate event rather than a grouping by session. So, you can set specific “events” — like clicking on a CTA button — to track how visitors interact with your site and content. This helps you have a more complete picture of user activity.
GA4 reporting definitely looks different than the old Universal setup. Your current reporting methods may disappear completely or give you different insights into your metrics, but this depends on the specific data you’re trying to find. For example, you can create up to 500 events in GA4, up from the 400 max UA gave you. Even this small change can help your team track website engagement and content performance more effectively.
UA relied more heavily on cookies than GA4 does. UA may not have been able to show you certain metrics because a user didn’t give consent for tracking. But GA4 uses machine learning intelligence to bridge that gap, helping your company understand user activities without cookies. This allows for a greater perspective on the whole user, or buyer, journey.
UA used a single identity space to track a single user to your site across multiple devices. GA4 uses three. More linked identity spaces lead to more knowledge of your customer’s journey, allowing you to meet your customers where they are with well-placed content, conversion points, and opportunities to connect.
UA required the use of Google Tag Manager (GTM) to measure clicks on anything that didn’t load a new page of a specific domain. That made it much harder to track if someone clicked on an interstitial video or a button to download content off-site. But with GA4, there are others more readily available in addition to Tag Manager.
Because GA4 data is based on events and not sessions, there are a couple of new metrics you’ll have access to, including:
This is the average time a user remains engaged on a particular page. Are they scrolling, reading, or playing your videos? This all counts as engagement. Engaged users are more likely to become quality leads that you’re able to convert. They are more willing to explore what you offer, performing activities like signing up for courses, chatting with your customer service representatives about your products, or sharing your content with their network.
Google identifies an engaged session as one that lasts longer than 10 seconds, results in a conversion, or has two or more page views. For example, in UA, viewing a webpage for 11 seconds before leaving contributed to the bounce rate. In GA4, this same 11-second interaction is counted as an engaged session.
Get more tips: Everything You Need To Know About Engagement Rates
If you aren’t already using Google Analytics or any analytics tool, it’s time to start. Being able to view data that supports your efforts or helps you establish new campaigns or strategies will only serve your company for the better. Here are some ways you can use Google Analytics to improve your content marketing:
Understanding what drives people to your website and where they come from can help you further refine your content marketing strategy. With data from GA4 showing you what your target audience is actively searching for and consuming online, you can determine the topics to focus your brand’s expertise and content strategy. When you create content targeting topics your brand is an expert on, you’re able to create content that really resonates with your target audience.
This helps brands connect and engage with readers and take the steps to turn them into clients in a really organic way. And your analytics will show this as an increase in traffic to posts that just make sense for your brand. Remember that just because a page has a lot of views, it doesn’t tell the entire story. It doesn’t automatically mean that content is successful for your purposes.
For example, high page views combined with a high bounce rate means you’re getting a lot of visitors to a particular page, but they aren’t sticking around for very long. You have to know why they’re bouncing away. Is the content boring? Have you not engaged the reader with an interesting call to action? Does the content miss the mark for the search query? Ask yourself these questions to uncover search intent and refine your content appropriately, so it benefits both your potential customers and your business.
With GA4, you’ll have the ability to track when visitors scroll a page and when they stop. This is great so you know where you should place CTAs, if your placed CTAs are actually capturing the attention of your visitors, and what part of your content is making visitors stop and read. Having this information at your disposal is helpful to see what isn’t working too. Is your content just not resonating? You may notice minimal scrolling and a big bounce instead.
So, how can you make sure users stop scrolling and stay on the page? The answer lies in high-quality, unique content. You have to provide something of value, and GA4 can help you dig into what your audience finds most valuable. Whether it’s solving a problem or informing audiences about a topic, you’ll find info in GA4 that tells you about what users are searching for and what they’re consuming already.
Using this data, you can improve existing content and create new content that fulfills the specific needs of your audience. Over time, you should see the scrolling stop and the engagement rise.
The new customer life cycle reports available in GA4 help you understand your customers and clients as they journey from acquisition to conversion. To make the most of these deep analytics, you have to have quality content that appeals to them, speaks to the part of the journey they’re in, and keeps them coming back for more.
Using Google Analytics to improve content marketing can be great, but at CopyPress, we take it one step further with our content marketing analysis tool to help our clients identify areas for opportunity within their content. What are your content gaps? What kind of content and keywords are working for your competitors that your team isn’t covering on your website? Our free tool helps you answer these questions and more.
Ultimately, the switch from UA to GA4 was a massive undertaking for many. Even so, learning more about the tool and onboarding it as its own analytics platform can help your team get comfortable and track the data you need for developing successful content strategies.
For more insights and expert advice for making GA4 work for you, catch up with CopyPress Director of Content Analysis, Jeremy Rivera, and SEO expert, Ruth Burr Reedy, in this latest interview.
Planning, launching, and tracking a content marketing campaign isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it strategy. Consistent content creation that provides value to your customers is only one part of the process. Success depends on how you adapt and adjust to meet your market’s needs.
At CopyPress, we developed our Content Create service as a fractional marketing solution for businesses and agencies just like yours. With our team of content marketing specialists, project managers, and content creatives, CopyPress takes on the end-to-end processes of managing your content campaigns so you can focus on what’s most important: growing your brand.