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Google Analytics is a free web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports on website traffic. Google Analytics is the most widely used web analytics service on the web. Millions of websites track billions of users using Google Analytics.
Google Analytics tracks and provides quantitative data, which you can use to improve your website or mobile app, or to verify and optimize your online marketing campaigns. Google Analytics is not designed to efficiently collect qualitative data.
Google Analytics is not designed to efficiently collect qualitative data.
That’s why UX audits often additionally implement qualitative analysis tools like HotJar, Cux.io or even Yandex Metrica. Since these are tools that affect site performance, usually codes are implemented on the site for the duration of the experiment.
Today I will focus specifically on Google Analytics 4. I will describe how to set up Google Analytics and explain some of the key features and terminology. By the end of this article, you should understand what Google Analytics is used for.
What is Google Analytics 4?
Google Analytics 4 is the latest version of Google’s web analytics platform. It includes a number of new features and improvements, including but not limited to:
- New user interface that has been radically trimmed from Universal Analytics;
- Increased ability to access data and build custom reports within GA4 (data mining module);
- Basic dimension is an event instead of a session;
- Extensive attribution models, including a default data-driven model;
- Conversion modeling;
- Possibility to simultaneously track data from the website and from the application (and combine them, e.g. by UserID or using Google Signals);
- Significantly increased limits and largely regarding the interface (there is no longer a limit on hits, which we had to deal with in Universal Analytics);
- Increased ability to send event-associated data (as event parameters);
- Less ability to filter data;
- Advanced segmentation capabilities that allow you to slice data in more ways than before;
- Enhanced audience building capabilities, including using the probability of performing an action;
- New reporting features that provide insight into user interaction with your site;
- New definitions for key terms and new metrics like active users, engagement rate, rejection rate, session with rejection, etc.;
- Faster tracking of user lifetime value;
- Access to raw data and free integration with BigQuery (data export itself is free, but data storage and processing may incur additional costs);
- No ability to custom group channels;
- Lack of ability to apply advanced filters i.e. combining traffic from different devices from Facebook;
How much does Google Analytics cost?
The basic service is free, and there is also a premium version for larger sites and companies with more complex requirements. However, the annual cost is very high.
How to configure Google Analytics 4?
To set up Google Analytics, you will need a Google account and a website. Once you have both, you can sign up for Google Analytics and add tracking code to your site. Here’s a quick step-by-step guide:
- Sign up for a Google account (if you don’t already have one).
- Go to google.com/analytics and click “Create account”.
- Enter your account information, including site name, site URL, time zone and currency. Then click “Next”. You can also select an industry.
- Create a site data stream. You have the option to enable or disable enhanced measurement. Enhanced tracking automatically collects page views and other events. You can disable logging of selected activities at a later time.
- Display the code to insert into the page or use the Google Analytics 4 configuration instructions by GTM.
Is this Google Analytics 4 configuration enough?
This configuration only allows you to track very basic activities such as page views, clicks or scrolls, and in a very limited form (few default parameters). Thus, it will not allow, for example, to record form fills, making a purchase in the store, clicking on an affiliate link or scrolling the page up to 80% (scrolling 90% of the page vertically is recorded).
How to use reports in Google Analytics 4?
Manual reporting in GA4 is done through the Analytics module, which is located in the left sidebar. To start using reports, you need to create a new report or use one of the ready-made templates. In addition to exploration, we have the option to use default reports.
There are 4 types of reports available in Google Analytics 4:
- Reports: Includes predefined reports on user lifecycle, sources and conversions, purchases or customer characteristics, among others. From the Library section, we can add more reports. After adding them, we will see them next to the standard ones.
- Exploration: This is a section previously available only in the paid version of Google Analytics 360. It provides the ability to access building advanced reports and directly accessing metrics and data and putting them together. Within free exploration, we can visualize data in the form of tables, 4 types of charts and a geographic map. In addition, we can analyze cohorts, paths, segments, path sequences, usage behavior or liftime value of users (aka LTV).
- Marketing: A section for checking the effectiveness of marketing activities in specific online media (based on UTMs) and attribution. We have the ability to compare different attribution models and check customer touchpoints with different media before conversion.
- Configuration: Settings for events (can be defined based on others), conversions, audiences including using prediction (e.g., those users who are suspected to make a purchase in the next 28 days), user properties and a debugging option.
Since you already know how to set up Google Analytics and add tracking code to your site, let’s look at the metrics and dimensions you need to understand to make sense of your data. These will come in handy for building your own reports as part of your exploration.
Metrics are quantitative measures, while dimensions are qualitative attributes that describe the data further. In other words, dimensions are labels that help you understand what something is, while metrics are numbers that tell you how much or how often something happens. For example, if we wanted to track how many times someone visited our site, we would use the metric “Sessions” (a quantitative measure) and the dimension “Country” (a qualitative attribute).
What can you track within Google Analytics 4?
Everything! Google Analytics can track clicks on links, buttons and phone numbers, copied email or phone address, submitted forms (including contact and reservation forms), chat conversations, reservations, add to cart, registrations or purchases. In addition, it can track many other statistics, such as page views (e.g., by content group), unique users and average time on site.
Google Analytics 4 furthermore gives you the ability to dock parameters to an event, so for example, color, price, phone number, time, weather data, currency exchange rate, etc.
Integrating Google Analytics 4 with Google Search Console
Integrating Google Analytics 4 with Google Search Console can be done in the Administration section. This is the fifth and final section of the GA4 service. Why is this done?”
Google Search Console provides great data about what users click on to get to our site, but we won’t find data about what happens to them next. We don’t know if they make a conversion, a purchase, or if there are rejection sessions.
We don’t know if they make a conversion, a purchase, or if there are rejection sessions.
Connecting GA4 with Search Console allows us to collate conversion data with queries. We will also be able to quickly compare engagement data against organic traffic and for individual entry pages. A high engagement rate can indicate that search intent is being met.
In the process positioning pages we use data from Google Search Console and Google Analytics. The data provides us with clues as to which way we should currently go with SEO, what to improve and what to focus on.
The data provides us with clues as to which way we should currently go with SEO, what to improve and what to focus on.
Whether you’re just getting started with Google Analytics 4 or looking for ways to get more out of it, we hope this article was helpful!
If you have any questions about this article or if you need help setting up tracking on your website, feel free to contact us – we’re always happy to help! 🙂
Hello! My name is Piotr Starzynski and it's a pleasure to meet you in the SEO industry. I have been officially working in SEO since 2006, while I have been working in analytics for several years. I have about 400 analytics implementations for client websites, hundreds of SEO projects and dozens of analytics projects for mobile applications. At Up&More, I am responsible for the Search Engine Optimization and Web Analytics team. If you feel like working with me, I invite you to contact me!