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Updated November 9, 2023
In this post we are going to walk through how to set up your Google Analytics 4 (GA4) data stream, but prior to doing that you have to make sure you have your GA4 property created. If you have already created your GA4 property, skip down to ‘Connecting your Data Stream’ if not, follow the steps below to create your property.
1. Log in to your existing UA account. Note: you’ll need an Editor role in UA to complete the steps below.
2. Click Admin. Gear icon, bottom left navigation.
3. Confirm that the correct account is selected.
4. Confirm the correct property is selected.
5. Click the GA4 Setup Assistant, which should be the first option in the Property column
Once you’re in the Setup Wizard, click “Get Started.”
The last step is to click “Create Property.” Then voila! You’re ready to go and you can still access your existing UA property using the Property Selector or Admin screen. Pro tip: The GA4 Setup Assistant works with gtag.js, but if your site is using analytics.js or you’re on a platform like WordPress or Wix, you’ll need to add the Analytics tag yourself.
There are a few things to make sure you avoid when you are setting up your GA4 property:
- Only one web, ios and android data stream should be set up per GA4 property. For example, if two web data streams are created to track two separate website domains, this will result in unreliable data. If you want to track two domains, create two separate GA4 properties and data streams.
- If you have multiple UA properties for the same website, only one should be connected to a GA4 property. For all other UA properties, go to the “GA4 Setup Assistant” and opt-out of “Automatically set up a basic Google Analytics 4 property”.
Connecting your Data Stream
You did it! You set up your Google Analytics 4 (GA4) property. Now it’s time to make sure your data stream is connected! Data streams are a new essential part of GA4. Data streams ensure that a website’s information flows back into the analytics property. When creating a data stream, a piece of code is produced which must be connected to a source (e.g., your institution’s website). The data streams have the capability to track user data across iOS, web, or Android data.
A data stream may have been already created and connected if you used the GA4 Setup Assistant inside your existing Universal Analytics property. The GA4 Setup Assistant works with gtag.js, but if your site is using analytics.js or you’re on a platform like WordPress or Wix, you’ll need to follow the instructions below on how to set up your data stream manually. Below, we’ll discuss how to set up web-based data streams in GA4.
After GA4 is installed, a data stream must be created in order for data to be funneled in. This can be done through Google Tag Manager, an institution’s website, or a global site tag. We recommend using Google Tag Manager or setting it up through your school website due to the increased functionality.
For all three setup methods, you can start by:
1. Confirming that GA4 is installed (if not, check out this blog post).
2. Verifying that a data stream is added to the GA4 account.
If not, this can be done by going into the account, clicking “Admin” in the lower left corner > Data Streams (under “Property Settings” in the second column) > “Add new data stream” > selecting “Web” from the drop-down menu.
Enter the website URL, name the stream, and click “Create Stream.”
You are able to verify that your data stream is connected properly by logging into your Analytics account, selecting your GA4 property, clicking on ‘Data Streams’ and confirming it reads ‘Receiving traffic in the past 48 hours’.
Setting up Data Streams with Google Tag Manager
1. Navigate to the Google Tag Manager account.
- If it is not installed, an account must be created using the container ID.
- At the top of the page, click the “Admin” tab.
- Click “Install Google Tag Manager.”
It will then provide two scripts that need to be implemented on the <head> and <body> of the website.
2. Once a GTM account workspace is established for your institution, click “New Tag.”
3. Click “Tag Configuration.”
4. Select “Google Tag” as the tag type.
5. Enter “Measurement ID” which can be found when going to the GA4 account, clicking “Admin” > “Data Streams” (In the second column under “Property Settings”) > Select the correct data stream under “Web” and the measurement ID will appear.
6. Go back to Google Tag Manager and enter it in the tag.
7. Leave “Send a page view event when this configuration loads” checked.
8. Set Triggering to “All Pages.”
9. Once the above steps have been completed, publish the Google Tag.
Setting up Data Streams with a Third-Party Website
1. Identify what platform your institution’s website is built on. One way to find this information is by scrolling to the bottom of your institution’s homepage and seeing if the vendor’s name is there. Example:
The second option can also be done from the homepage. Right-click on the webpage > click “Inspect” > a side window should appear; select the “Sources” tab and look for a third-party site listed. Example:
2. After identifying the source, find instructions on how to install GA4 on your institution’s website platform.
**Please note: When you run Google Tag Assistant it will most likely say “invalid” or “missing account ID” (see below). This is normal, and as long as data is coming into GA4 your setup should still be successful.**
Setting up Data Streams with Global Site Tag
1. In your GA4 account, click “Admin” in the bottom left corner. In the “Property” column, click “Data Streams.”
2. Click “Web” and select the data stream.
3. Under “Tagging Instructions,” select “Global Site Tag” – This is the code that will be needed to add to all the website pages to track data. This will be placed in the <head> of the website. If there is an existing global site tag for Universal Analytics, this will be added in addition to that script in the website code.
Once you follow these instructions, data will begin tracking through GA4 as soon as the code is implemented and connected to the stream. Be aware that it may take up to 24 hours for the data to start populating in reports. It’s important to note that if a stream is ever deleted, it will not be able to be recovered.