How to set up events in Google Analytics 4 (GA4) correctly.

April 15, 2022

An article by Sergey Matrosov

Starting from July 1 2023, Google has claimed that there will no longer be any Universal Analytics (UA). Instead, you will have to use Google Analytics for Firebase or, shortly, GA4.

If you are a newbie in web analytics or you are transferring events for UA to GA4, we recommend that you follow our simple instructions, considering the main restrictions of GA4:

  1. you can only have 500 distinct unique event names.
  2. similarly for custom dimensions - 50 custom, event-scoped parameters and 25 custom user-scoped properties - it is now more important than ever before.

If you are sending a classical UA event, when your website visitor clicks on the website menu section, ‘Contacts’, on the main page, there are several ways in which this can be sent:

Event Properties Var – 1 Var – 2[1]
Event Category Main Menu Main
Event Action Click Click
Event Label Contacts Contacts
Value (Null) (Null)

There are more ways of sending it; this usually depends on the event sending convention within your company, but from our point of view, Var-1 is the best of all, as the structure of the event is sufficiently complete for it be used as a standalone method for user analytics.

However, it is no longer possible to send events like this to GA4, due to the first restriction. Using the naming conventions of GA4 (lower case, “_” instead of space), this event would be shown as “main_menu_contact_click” and it occupies one of 500 unique events for GA4 property.

For this reason, you need to follow these recommendations:

  1. keep in mind that GA4 does not just comprise event-based analytics; first of all, it involves action-based analytics. This means that previously Event.Action was a property of Event.Category and now it is a Category that is a property/parameter of Action (we will show this later). In addition, all of the automatically collected events: click - pave_view, scroll etc. - are actions.
  2. try to use automatically collected events and parameters as much as possible: just think about the number of events after the years of business growth. There is a risk of imposing limits quickly if you do not consider the event’s architecture.
  3. if you wish to use custom events, you should firstly look at these recommendations from Google for sales, games, etc.
  4. a new event name must be an action, and this action should be very common (=often usage) within your business. Otherwise, try to use automatically collected events.
  5. event parameters, as well as user properties, should also be used regularly for different kinds of events. Otherwise, use automatically collected things or do not track it (if you need it solely for two to three events in your innumerous event-flow).

Why do we say that GA4 is action-based analytics? Look at the automatically collected event names: click, page_view, submit, first_open. Action is now the most significant here.

So, in order to collect our event regarding the Menu, we have to rewrite it, using an automatically collected event “click” and parameters:

Event Name сlick
Event Parameters page_title Main
Content Menu
button_title[2] Contacts

Even if clicking on the Menu is something special for your business, the built-in ‘click’ action will be able to manage this.

If you want an example of a special custom action that you may wish to track and highlight in the event flow, this can be “activate”, for example, when a user clicks on checkboxes within the cookie policy settings. We agree that it can be possible to track this via ‘activate' rather than by ‘click’[3].

And finally, to make it simpler for you:

  • here we present possible specifications for actions (with custom specifications) and parameters.
  • in addition, there is an example for recording events that you track for your business.

Feel free to contact us if you need a qualified consultation!

[1] Using the page URL, you can understand where this event was.

[2] Custom parameter; button_title is a type of useful custom dimension because Web and App have a large number of different buttons.

[3] You can also use this event for email registration confirmation, etc., that makes it a universal event.