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Google Universal Analytics: Make the Switch?

To switch or not to switch, that is the question. If you’re already a user of Google Analytics, you can now deploy Google Universal Analytics for your site – but should you?

If you head over to the Google Analytics page, it’s already been revised to default to the description of Universal Analytics. Meaning that Google wants you to go in this direction. But not so fast! Chew on this first.

Two Key Questions

There are two basic questions that can help you determine whether you want to move quickly to Google Universal Analytics.

    1. How much customization have you already done to Google Analytics?
    2. How much time and/or experience does you or your team have?

The Customization Trap

If you really haven’t done much with Google Analytics beyond installing the basic tracking code and setting up some events, including e-commerce tracking – moving up to Universal Analytics shouldn’t cause you much of a headache. Even if it doesn’t look as if you have much use for the new information it’ll provide.

Here’s why:

Get used to Universal Analytics now because this is Google, and that means sooner or later the current Google Analytics you know and (hopefully) love will be phased out. In other words, if your site isn’t complicated, take the plunge whether you think you have need for it or not.

However, if you’ve spent considerable time and resources creating numerous events with custom variables, you’ve got a whole lot of modifications done to Google’s tracking code. Are you or whoever handles this task for you up for some extra work?

You’re about to embark on a “duplicate and tweak” effort that’s as large as your inventory of events. Google tells you right up front in their Universal Analytics documentation that you can’t just go from one version to the other, but instead you must create a new Web Property for the new Universal Analytics and run it in parallel with your current tracking code. So, if you’ve got 10…or even hundreds of events deployed and tracking, you’ve got your work cut out for you.

For the time being, the consensus is that it’s wise not to split up your data by turning off your old code, and this is a sensible suggestion when you factor in that Google may yet craft an easy migration allowing you to take your original Analytics code and push it over to Universal Analytics. That means a duplicate new version for every existing event you have.


How you answer the two questions above may decide on how quickly you move to Google Universal Analytics. It’s new and there are a lot of changes. As the digital analytics industry absorbs the potential of Google Universal Analytics there’s obviously going to be a growing resource of assistance in getting it to work for you.

You may decide you’ve got time to wait.

An earlier post on the topic of Google Universal Analytics may also be of interest to you as well.


This article was provided by Ty Baisden and his marketing team at Ty is a SEO and marketing guru with more than 15 years of search engine optimization, web development and marketing experience. He has helped build MSI into a top SEO company. Read more at the MSI Marketing Blog.