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How to change to the new Google Universal Analytics

Google Analytics is a fundamental tool for most website owners, and it’s about to get a complete “reboot” which will affect all of us. The good news is that you won’t have to learn how to use a whole new system or anything like that – it’s largely behind the scenes for now.

The replacement to the system which we’ve used for so long is called “Universal Analytics” and it widens out the reach of the platform beyond simple website visits. To be honest, the vast majority of the companies I work with will not have much interest in the new capability offered by Universal Analytics, even though it is exciting some of the power users out there. But we’ll all be forced to move over in time, so we may as well get on with it.

There are two things you need to do, in order to transfer to Universal Analytics. The first is to go into the “admin” section of Google Analytics and start the “upgrade” process. The second is to change the invisible tracking code which will have been built into your web pages by the original designer. We took both these steps on the BMON site last week, and the change was made seamlessly.

What I would strongly suggest, however, is that you use this opportunity to switch to Google Tag Manager, which I described last year like this: “Most websites now have code on their web pages for more than one service, for example Google Analytics, AdWords Conversion Tracking, or Google AdWords Display Network Remarketing. You may have all this without even knowing it. With Google Tag Manager, you replace all of those sets of code with a single piece of code which calls them up when required. Crucially, however, this then takes their specification off the page and into an external interface which you control, rather than relying on the IT department or web designer to maintain things.”

So, when it comes to “upgrading” to Universal Analytics, I recommend that instead of swapping the traditional Google Analytics code for the new Universal Analytics code, you swap it for Google Tag Manager code. You’ll then specify the new Universal Analytics code within this.

If you want to go ahead, here are the instructions to issue to your web designer or website manager:
1. Create a Google Tag Manager account on our Google Analytics login;
2. Add our site’s traditional Google Analytics code to this;
3. Replace the Google Analytics code on our website with Google Tag Manager code;
4. Check everything works as it always has done (this may take a few days);
5. Start the Universal Analytics “upgrade” process on our Google Analytics account;
6. Replace the analytics code served by Google Tag Manager to the new Universal Analytics code;
7. Check things are being recorded correctly (again, this may take a few days).

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