Google Gets Rid of My Business App and Legacy Google Analytics: Here’s What You Need to Know
Google has introduced two major changes affecting business owners and website managers, both of which came into effect this summer, in 2022.
The first big change is that the Google My Business App is no longer in service. All of the features and interactions available through that app have now migrated to your “Business Profile.”
You can access your Business Profile by clicking on your icon or searching for your own business in either the Google Search app or Google Maps app. Searching for “my business” also works. Alternatively, you can always visit https://www.google.com/business, although the experience is geared towards desktop users (and will encourage you to use either Search or Maps on mobile).
The second major shift for Google is that they have introduced a new version of Google Analytics, called Google Analytics 4 or GA4. Normally, small updates would barely be noticed, and this change wouldn’t warrant much discussion other than pointing out new features. However, the Google Analytics 4 experience is significantly different, so the migration may be jarring for some. Luckily, those who already use Analytics can stick with the old experience, and those who create a new account have a hidden option to use the old version, as well. Read on to see how …and why transitioning to GA4 now may be your best option for the future.
But first, more on how to handle the sunsetting of the Google My Business App.
Google Gets Rid of the Google My Business App
In recent weeks, I have heard from several of my clients voicing concern about notices they have received. They’ve gotten emails from Google saying the My Business App will stop functioning in late July, which has now come to bear.
While not everyone uses this App, those who didn’t hear about this change earlier were spooked. The good news is that none of the functionality of the Google My Business app is gone, it’s just moved.
How Do I Access My Business Profile and Messages?
One main reason business owners liked the Google My Business App was that it gave them one “home base” from which to operate their online Google presence. They could not only view analytics like profile clicks or change information like business hours, but they could also see and respond to messages sent through the Google interface.
All of that stuff still exists, and it can be found under your Google Business Profile. You can access your Business Profile by opening up the Google Maps app, clicking on your Google Account icon in the top right, and then selecting “Your Business Profiles” from the menu.
From there, you should be able to access all of the features and functions you need, including the ability to respond to questions and other messages sent to your business.
One big change you may need to make is to set alert notifications for the Google Maps app if you had gotten used to having the Google My Business app notify you about new activity.
What If I Can’t Access My Business Profile?
There are two primary reasons you wouldn’t be able to access your Business Profile as expected from either the Google Search or Google Maps app.
The first reason is that you haven’t actually claimed your business yet. If the business you wish to manage has been claimed by you (meaning the email/Google Account you are currently using), then a blue check mark will appear by the business name in search results. Ensure that you have claimed the business listing to proceed with managing your profile.
The second reason is that you may currently be logged into a separate email not connected to the Business Profile. You can extend permissions to view and modify the Business Profile to other Google Accounts, including your own multiple accounts or other individuals.
Why Did Google Delete the My Business App?
In late 2021, Google sent several announcements declaring that they had added the ability to access and edit Google My Business profiles from Search and Maps. They also renamed the feature from Google My Business to Google Business profile to “keep things simple.”
Evidently, with these features now embedded into Search and Maps, Google no longer felt the need to release and maintain a separate app just for business profiles. Of course, those things cost money, and they can add to the perceived complexity within Google’s own operations and also in the minds of its users.
Officially, Google stated: “we’ll retire the Google My Business app so more merchants can take advantage of the upgraded experience on Search and Maps.”
As if you couldn’t take advantage of it unless the old app was deleted! Clearly this is corporate speak for an internal memo to reduce cost and complexity. Fortunately, accessing your Google Business Profile is now just as easy as it was before, except it’s in a new place.
Google Launches Analytics 4, Begins Sunsetting Current “Universal Analytics”
Google is doing a complete overhaul and replacement of their existing Google Analytics service. The current service everyone has gotten used has been referred to as “Universal Analytics” or “UA” since 2012. The new version, Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is already available for use.
Each website account linked to either service is referred to as a “property.” In other words, your Google Analytics property is the same thing as your website account.
All new properties created for websites default to GA4. You can also choose to create a UA property instead of, or in addition to, your GA4 property. More on how to do that in just a bit.
What’s Different About Google Analytics 4?
In a nutshell, Google Analytics 4 is a big deal because it was built from the ground up around machine learning, incorporating a new way to log and interpret visitor interactions.
When Google Analytics was originally created in 2006, it was a vastly different world. Very few people had internet connected phones, and so most digital interactions happened on desktop. Analytics data was built around “sessions,” which referred to short periods of time where a user viewed and interacted with a site. These sessions reflected how people typically used websites: in chunks of a few minutes at a time to an hour or more.
That’s all changed dramatically since smartphones and other mobile traffic became the default form of web traffic around 2015-2016. Now, the same user might access a site in very different ways across multiple devices. Similarly, users may share the same device within the same household. Google launched Universal Analytics in 2012 to account for these changes, with an eye on collecting granular data from the same user across platforms.
Now, GA4 ditches all of that in favor of a new form of interaction: “events.” Recognizing that sometimes users will perform single actions across multiple devices and browsers, sometimes days apart, the Analytics engine now seeks to track individual user journeys without relying upon cookies. Further, it seeks to build an understanding of individual user journeys based on isolated events, not sessions of sustained interactivity. The machine learning engine will then begin to make assumptions about individual users and users as a whole, providing insights and suggestions to property owners to help them fulfill their growth and profitability goals.
How to Switch to the New Google Analytics 4
New properties are created within Google Analytics 4 by default.
If you wish to create a GA4 property and currently have a UA property, you can migrate your data using a convenient wizard Google has provided.
To access the setup assistant wizard for GA4, go to your Google Analytics account, click “Admin”, make sure you have the correct account selected, and then select the correct property. The GA4 Setup Assistant should be found under the property column.
Can I Keep Using Universal Analytics for Now?
New interfaces are always hard to adjust to, which can lead to frustration. “Why can’t I just do ___?” and “Where the heck did ____ go?” are two common questions yelled at the screen during these rocky transition periods.
Fortunately, for the time being, if you already have a Universal Analytics property you can continue to do so until the service is set to be formally retired in July 2023.
Since GA4 is the default when you create a new property, you may have to do a bit of technical wizardry to make a legacy UA property. Actually, it’s less “wizardry” and more “clicking on some of the tucked away options.”
To make a new UA property, go to Admin settings, and “Create property” under the property column. You should see “property setup” on the next screen. The next step is very important: click Show advanced options. Then there should be a toggle switch for “Create a Universal Analytics property.”
You can choose to either create just a UA account or elect to create both a UA and GA4 account. We’d actually recommend the latter.
Why Getting Used to GA4 Is the Right Move
Change is never easy, especially when it comes to dealing with tech interfaces moving things around, in some cases, and outright obliterating things, in others.
But the hard truth is that GA4 was built from a solid foundation. It understands the importance of machine learning and the need to rethink online customer journeys. People will constantly fall in and out of your funnel, so you need to be able to see who matters, as well as how to focus on converting them. GA4 seeks to help you do just that.
If that weren’t incentive enough, know that in less than a year Universal Analytics will be retired. By July 1, 2023, you will be forced to use the new GA4 interface. It’s best to start tinkering with it now, especially if you have an existing UA account to fall back on. That way, you can be comfortable with the new interface and ready to use it for the most benefit by the time UA goes bye-bye.