One question many marketers have about a certain search engine giant’s upcoming transition from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 is how it will affect their business—including their approach to SEO. Will the switch to GA4 have a major impact on how companies appear in search rankings? The answer is probably not. Will switching to GA4 impact how companies report on their SEO rankings and allocate their marketing budget? The answer is a little more complex.
The good news is that according to Google Search Advocate John Mu, your current rankings in Google’s SERPS (search engine results pages) won’t be affected by the move from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4.
Mu tweeted in February of 2022 that “how you implement Analytics doesn’t affect SEO at all. (assuming your Analytics doesn’t block search crawling or indexing).”
That’s a significant reassurance for many marketers who are wondering exactly how the shift to a completely new data collection paradigm will impact the processes they’ve honed for years.
In the age of digital media, SEO is one of the most essential investments a cannabis company can make. SEO extends your earned and owned media efforts, raising the profile of your brand and getting in front of people searching for the products and services your company offers.
Data Collection Versus SEO
Famously, however, SEO is as much an art as a science, especially for cannabis brands that have a smaller body of search engine data to draw from than those in industries that haven’t been banned at the federal level for decades. That makes it all the more important to collect all the data possible on who is visiting your website and why.
Even if using GA4 versus Universal Analytics doesn’t directly impact how your page ranks on Google moving forward, it’s helpful to know how much traffic is currently driven to your page by organic search compared with paid ads, and how to best optimize your owned content to increase that traffic.
Understanding how customers come to your site from search engines and social media is essential for knowing how much to spend on content creation and paid advertising. It also helps to understand who is listening to your owned media creation efforts and how to report on such data internally and externally.
That’s why it’s a little more complicated to predict how switching to GA4 will impact the way companies report on their SEO rankings. It doesn’t matter which property your cannabis company uses, whether Universal Analytics or GA4—the way data is collected on inbound traffic from those rankings will change, and this may inform different marketing decisions.
Compare and Contrast
One thing is for certain: Having a solid grasp on Universal Analytics data now—rather than when it’s officially replaced by GA4 in July 2023—gives marketing teams a chance to compare and contrast how Google collects and reports on data in each property. It also gives you as long a runway as possible to collect data before the switch, so you have a bigger, more seamless body of information to base decisions on in Q3 and Q4 of 2023 and beyond.
If you haven’t yet switched or been automatically converted to Google Analytics 4, you can follow their step-by-step instructions on adding GA4 to sites that already have Analytics set up. It’s also important to make sure that services connected to Google Analytics, like Google Ads, Google Optimize, AdSense or AdExchange, are also included in your migration.