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Update Google Tag Manager as You Archive Universal Analytics

Update GTM with GA4-1

With the impending deadline of archiving our Universal Analytics (UA) data before July 1, 2024, you're probably busy backing up your UA data. While safely archiving that historical analytics data before the deadline is the priority, you should also update other products associated with your Google Analytics, including Google Tag Manager.

Extra Code Slows Down Your Website

Every time a web page loads, it has to load all of the code on the page. Some code is designed to load even before any user-focused, visible content can load. This code delays the user being able to interact with your web page while this code loads.

In many cases, the code loads fairly quickly. However, it's best to remove extra, unused code from web pages to help optimize how fast the page loads. If you're not using that code on the page, why slow down the page load time to load that code? According to Google's research, the longer it takes for a page to load, the more likely that the user will leave the page. As a page load time increases from one second to three seconds, the probability that the user will bounce increases by 32%.

Page Load Speed Is a Known Google Ranking Factor for SEO

In addition to improving page load speed to prevent users from bouncing, page load speed is a known Google ranking factor, meaning that optimizing page load speed also helps optimize how well the page will rank in Google organic search. So removing extraneous code on your web page helps user experience and helps improve search ranking.

When You Update to GA4, Also Remove Universal Analytics Tags

While you're in the process of finalizing your migration from UA to GA4, it's important to also remove the old UA tagging from your web pages. Because UA is no longer tracking data, UA tags are not actively tracking data and therefore are extraneous code on your web page. (Additionally, if you were previously using the Google Optimize tool, which was retired in late 2023, those tags also are extraneous code on your web page.) 

In Google Tag Manager, you could consider simply pausing the unused tags. However, if you test this approach using Google's PageSpeed Insights tool, you'll see that while the tags do not trigger tracking, they do still appear to affect page load time. Therefore, pausing should only be used for tags that you intend to stop using on a temporary basis. In this case, because you will never be using UA tags again, it is best practice to completely delete them.

Prior to deletion, ensure that you've captured all of the same information in your GA4 tags that you were capturing via your UA tags. Once you've confirmed, proceed with deleting the UA tags.

Need Guidance to Audit and Optimize your Google Tag Manager?

On Thursday, February 1, 2024, we're holding a live webinar and lesson to show you how to audit and optimize your Google Tag Manager during the GA4 migration process.  You can register here, and even if you can't make it to the live event, we'll be recording it for you to watch at your convenience!

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