There are a number of settings in GA4 that you have to alter to ensure you’re collecting the right data for your company and it doesn’t disappear when you least expect it. From data retention to channel groupings, changing a few settings now will help you out in the long run!
So you’ve set up your GA4 property, now what?
Unfortunately for us, GA4 isn’t as simple as a plugin and play and there are a number of settings that you have to make sure are set up properly before you can even dream of using the data. These settings help you collect the right data, and also allow you to keep it for as long as possible.
Key areas include:
- Google signals
- Data Retention
- Data Filters
- Channel Groupings
1. Google signals
Strangely, this is turned off by default but Google does push you towards setting it up via the Setup Assistant. Google signals allows Google to collect data from users cross-device, so if someone goes on to your website on their phone, but then converts later on via their laptop, then Google will pick it up and store the data under 1 user.
To turn it on, go to Setup Assistant, scroll down and follow the instructions there. Or you can go to Settings > Data Collection > Google signals data collection and click get started. Follow the instructions and click activate.
2. Data Retention
This is such an important aspect that most companies miss. By default, Google will only retain your data associated with users for 2 months, after that it gets deleted - goodbye historical data! However, you can actually increase this to 14 months. Which we recommend doing as soon as possible.
Go to Settings > Property > Data Settings > Data Retention and change the dropdown to 14 months
3. Data Filters
We always say it’s best practice to exclude any internal traffic from reporting, this gives you a better indication of true performance on-site such as live users, average session durations etc. In order to do this you need to collect the IP addresses of the people that you’re classing as internal and then filter it out as follows. Use https://whatismyipaddress.com/ to easily find your IP address. :
Go to Settings > Property > Data Streams. Click on your data stream e.g. website > Configure tag settings > Show more > Define internal traffic and copy and paste in the IPs.
GA4 should then automatically be filtering out internal traffic.
4. Channel Groupings
Have you ever taken a look at your channel specific data in analytics, for it to be an absolute mess? Organic campaigns appearing under Email, nothing even showing for Paid Social? That is due to the default channel groupings on GA4 not being the best. Luckily, you’re able to create “custom” channel groupings in GA4 to counter this. This will allow your campaigns to fall under the right channels within analytics.
Head to Settings > Property > Data Settings > Channel Groups. Click “Create New Channel Group”
You can now start setting up the criteria for each channel as needed. For example, our paid social campaigns contain “paid-social” as the medium, therefore we add that as the criteria within the paid social channel group. Once you’ve done, remember to click save and then apply and you’re good to go.