After announcing the meetup on Google Analytics 4 and Shopify a few weeks ago, a reader sent in this question:
We were advised that we don’t need Google analytics as Search Console does the same without providing Google information and slowing everything down. What is right?
The short answer is no, you don’t NEED Google Analytics (GA). It’s never that simple.
You can learn so much more information from GA if you know how to use it right.
The notion that GA slows your site down is misleading. When implemented correctly, there would be little to no speed impact on your site. Nearly every Shopify App that impacts the visuals on your site has a speed tax as well. It’s all about weighing the benefits. For most, if there is a speed impact on GA, the value they receive from GA outweighs the potential speed impact on their site.
If Search Console works for you, then great! Personally, I am not a fan. Search Console is at best a few days behind and oftentimes misreports issues. I can’t tell you how many emails I get from Search Console that are false positives or negatives that cause panic when there isn’t a need.
Search Console also has a ton of glitches in the data. To the point where for an entire week it shows no clicks on product pages. I know that to be false because I can see the data in GA and in Shopify. So there is a big lack of trust in Search Console for me. There are also limitations on when I can access data, as some reports only show me the last 30 days.
Shopify’s Analytics provides a significant amount of valuable data. For many, this is all they need. It’s not perfect and there are areas where Shopify Analytics falls short, but it’s not terrible.
Ultimately, I don’t know what Shopify has planned for the future of its analytics reporting tools. Google made GA4 really complicated, so maybe Shopify is trying to build a more robust reporting platform. I don’t know for sure.
I also don’t know what other tools you may be using and whether Shopify is capturing that information. GA tends to be a better aggregator of data than Shopify, but Shopify has made improvements here as well. Search Console provides very little insight (if any) into how your organic search performs compared to ads or social media to name a few.
Since Google announced that Universal Analytics was going away in July 2023 and Google Analytics 4 will be the only available option going forward, a lot of people started to look for alternative analytics tools. I have not found one I prefer, but to be honest, I have not spent a ton of time looking for one.
GA4 is providing a new way to look at data. I recommend you watch the full recording from the GA4 meetup. If the data you can pull sounds interesting, it may be worth implementing GA4 to see what nuggets of information may be helpful.
Additionally, the speaker for the GA4 meetup, Kate Collinson, has a course that will teach you not just how to put GA4 in place, but how to use the data.
Typically larger stores will benefit more from the data you can pull from analytics platforms because they have more data to learn from. Using small amounts of data could lead you down a path when your sample size simply isn’t large enough to know enough.
Analytics for the sake of analytics won’t help you improve your store. How you use the information and what you do with it are more important.