UPDATE 12/01/2016 – There is no longer reference to the old Analytics code being depreciated in April 2016, two years after Universal Analytics was out of beta. It is still highly recommended that you upgrade to Universal Analytics if you haven’t done so already. Below is the original post on this topic…
With the deadline looming, now is the perfect time to ensure you’ve updated your Google Analytics code to Universal Analytics before it’s too late.
After Google make the switch to Universal Analytics you will no longer be able to see any information about your website visitors.
Why Do I Need to Take Action Now?
In the weeks leading to April 2016 there are likely to be many stressed website owners as Google stops tracking the old ‘Classic Analytics’ code in favour for the new ‘Universal Analytics’ code.
As this change often requires specialist web development, there will be a high demand for web developers around this period, which could spell disaster for those who leave it too late.
Why is Google Permanently Changing to Universal Analytics?
Back in April 2014 Google announced that Universal Google Analytics was finally out of beta and was now into “prime-time”.
The key feature on Universal Analytics was to have a unifying tracking platform for all different devices such as desktop/laptop computers, smartphones and tablet devices. Universal Analytics also can be used to monitor apps or external digital devices, as well as typical usage on standard web pages.
Universal Analytics also opens up these key advanced features:
- User IDs – You can assign a user ID to a user and track their progress from multiple devices and even multiple platforms as a single unique session to see customer journeys more accurately
- Search Term Exclusions – Block branded or irrelevant keywords from showing up as organic traffic and instead report it as direct traffic to give you more accurate search engine metrics
- Referral Exclusions – Block sessions from an unwanted referral websites such as a payment gateway or spam referral sources such as Semalt.com
- Custom Dimensions and Metrics – If you run a blog for example you may want to see different authors separately in your reports. If you publish e-books online then you may wish to see how many pages people read of each e-book on average for example. There are many different ways custom dimensions and metrics can enhance your analytics reports to make sense of data you receive
Universal Analytics also originally opened up AdWords Remarketing for many websites, a way to show relevant adverts to people who have previously visited a website through the display advertising platform.
Tracking through Universal Analytics is much quicker than before giving accurate real time data and there is no delay in statistics for different time zones.
Instead of patching up and supporting the old Google Analytics tracking libraries Google decided to drop the classic analytics code two years after Universal Analytics was out of beta. This gives a deadline of April 2016 but it may be sooner with the Google Developers website warning that “Non-Universal Analytics libraries, including ga.js or v1.x of the mobile SDKs, will soon be deprecated and may stop working in the future”.
How do I Check Which Version of Google Analytics is Running on a Webpage?
Most standard websites will have the Google Analytics code added to every page.
With this in mind simply visit the homepage or any other standard page on the website:
Now you need to view the HTML source code of the webpage.
If you are using a Windows computer then press: CTRL + U = View Source Code
If you are a Mac computer then press: CMD + OPT/ALT + U = View Source Code
Now you can see the raw HTML code which makes up the webpage:
Now you need to find the Google Analytics code within the webpage.
If you are using a Windows computer then press: CTRL + F = Find Tool
If you are a Mac computer then press: CMD + F = Find Tool
Now you can search for any string within the source code.
Search for the string [‘UA-] on the page (remember the apostrophe beforehand), if that doesn’t work then just try [UA-].
The old Google Analytics tracking code will look like this:
The Universal Analytics tracking code will look like this:
Or slightly different like this:
If you cannot see any analytics tracking at all then there are three likely scenarios which may explain this:
- Google Analytics tracking isn’t installed – There are other great web analytics software available such as Piwik or KISSMetrics
- Google Tag Manager is used – Google Tag Manager provides a handy way for Webmasters to draw in different tracking scripts on to their website without the need for developers. If this is used then unfortunately you cannot see it’s contents easily and you will need to log in to Google Tag Manager to see what is installed
If you have the old Google Analytics tracking code installed then you can simply swap it for the new style code using the same tracking ID which has the format “UA-XXXXXX-X”. This will result in a smooth transition and you will be able to see historical data on the same view within your Google Analytics account.
To find the code for your website’s Universal Analytics, simply log in to Google Analytics and then navigate to Admin > Tracking Info > Tracking Code:
If you use WordPress then we recommend using the robust Yoast SEO plugin called Google Analytics by Yoast, which can be found in the plugins area of WordPress. This plugin installs Universal Google Analytics on your website and has many other handy SEO and social media features.
If you have any issues with Google Analytics then we may be able to help, simply call us on 0800 622 6100