This is the first installment in a three-part series.
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is great tool to monitor website traffic or app performance, and best of all, it’s free! To gain insights into user behavior, you’ll need to determine what specific data you should be looking for. However, if you’re new to website analytics, some of the features and terms used can be confusing. To help make sense of the data on your screen, below is a brief overview of key data points and reports in GA4—and what types of information they provide.
User Demographics and Interests:
Age and gender of your audience.
Interests and affinity categories.
Geographical location of your users.
Acquisition (how visitors arrive at your site/app):
Source/Medium: Where your visitors/users are coming from (e.g., organic search, paid advertising, social media).
Referral Traffic: Websites sending traffic to yours.
Organic Search Keywords: Terms typed into search engines by users.
Pageviews: Which pages are most popular.
Bounce Rate: The percentage of visitors who leave after viewing only one page.
Average Session Duration: How long users spend on your site.
Event Tracking: Custom events that you define (e.g., form submissions, video views).
Goal Completions: Show specific user actions (e.g., completing a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, filling out a contact form).
E-commerce Tracking: If you have an online store, this metric tracks sales, revenue and product performance.
Retention: How often users return to your site or app.
Engagement: Actions taken within a session (e.g., clicks, scrolls).
Journey Analysis: See the paths users take when visiting your site.
Tracks specific user interactions like clicks, downloads, video views or form submissions.
Use event tracking to monitor user interactions that are crucial to your site's goals.
Use this to create custom segments and analyze specific user groups (e.g., new vs. returning visitors, high-value customers).
Site/Search Site Search:
View what users are searching for on your website.
Analyze search queries and results to improve user experience.
If you have an online store, this report tracks sales, revenue and product performance.
Shows shopping cart abandonment rates.
Custom Dimensions and Metrics:
Implement custom dimensions and metrics to track data specific to your business needs.
Technology and Devices:
Determine which devices (desktop, mobile, tablet) and browsers visitors are using.
Monitor screen resolutions and operating systems to ensure your site design is not barring entry to visitors.
User Flow Analysis:
Analyze the paths users take through your website or app to identify drop-off points (pages) and optimize the user journey.
Track the performance of individual pieces of content, such as blog posts or videos.
Monitor keyword performance and organic search traffic.
Use this to identify opportunities for optimizing your site's SEO.
User Privacy and Compliance:
Ensure you are compliant with data protection regulations like GDPR and CCPA.
The specific data you should focus on depends on your website or app's goals and objectives. It's important to regularly review and analyze this data to make informed decisions and improvements to your digital presence. Additionally, setting up custom alerts and reports in GA4 can help you stay informed about significant changes or trends in your data.
For a glossary of GA4 analytics terms, see Understanding GA4 data—a quick users guide (Part 2). For step-by-step guidance in viewing, interpreting, downloading and sharing web traffic data, see Part 3. You can also contact AOE for assistance. We have team members with in-depth knowledge of GA4, and we’re happy to help!