Google Analytics 4: Understanding the Basics of GA4

I know I’m not the only one that’s been ignoring the message about Google Analytics 4 inside the Google Analytics dashboard. You know which one…

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I know I’m not the only one that’s been ignoring the message about Google Analytics 4 inside the Google Analytics dashboard. You know which one I mean – the one at the top that warns you the current version will stop processing data and to migrate to Google Analytics 4 now.

I’ve been using Google Analytics for years now, so the thought of having to learn it all over again gave me the ick. But I quickly realised that understanding the basics of Google Analytics and GA4 is crucial for my SEO strategy.

Google Analytics 4: Understanding the Basics of GA4

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a tool that helps bloggers, business owners and webmasters monitor their website traffic, track user behaviour, and gather insights to improve their SEO performance. It’s a must for bloggers like me as it offers vital insight into what is working and what isn’t working for our blog. Plus – Google Analytics is free.

So I wanted to write about Google Analytics and GA4 for other bloggers in the same position as me. I felt It would be good to explain why it is important for SEO and walk through the key differences between the two. I will cover how to set up Google Analytics and GA4, understand the interface, track key metrics, analyse website traffic, create custom reports, and optimise for SEO.

Introduction to Google Analytics and GA4

GA4 is the latest version of Google Analytics, which was released in October 2020. It is designed to provide a more user-centric approach to data collection and analysis. GA4 is built on an event-based model, which means that it tracks user interactions with a website as individual events rather than pageviews. This allows for a more accurate representation of user behaviour on a website, including interactions that occur across multiple devices and sessions.

Googel Analytics 4

Why use Google Analytics and GA4 for SEO?

Google Analytics and GA4 are essential tools for any SEO strategy because they provide insights into how users interact with a website. By tracking website traffic, user behaviour, and other key metrics, businesses can identify areas for improvement and optimise their website for better SEO performance. Google Analytics and GA4 can help answer questions such as:

  • How many users visit my website?
  • Where do my website visitors come from?
  • What pages on my website are the most popular?
  • How long do users spend on my website?
  • Which pages do users leave my website from?
  • What devices do users use to access my website?
  • What are the demographics of my website visitors?

By answering these questions, businesses can gain a deeper understanding of their website visitors and tailor their SEO strategy to better meet their needs.

Key differences between Google Analytics and GA4

One of the key differences between Google Analytics and GA4 is the data model. Google Analytics uses a session-based model, which means that it tracks user interactions within a single session. GA4, on the other hand, uses an event-based model, which tracks user interactions as individual events. This allows

Another key difference is the user interface. GA4 has a more streamlined and modern interface compared to Google Analytics. It also provides more advanced features such as machine learning-based insights and predictive metrics. Additionally, GA4 allows for more customisation and flexibility in tracking and reporting data.

How to install Google Analytics 4

Setting up Google Analytics and GA4 is a straightforward process. To set up Google Analytics, you need to create a Google Analytics account, add your website to the account, and add the tracking code to their website.

If you already have Google Analytics and just need to set up GA4, you can create a new property within your existing Google Analytics account or create a new account specifically for GA4. Once the property is created, your need to add the GA4 tracking code to their website.

I personally use the Plugin called Google Site Kit which sorts out the tracking code for me, rather than having to manually put it into my HTML.

Understanding the GA4 interface

Google Analytics 4

The GA4 interface is designed to be more user-friendly and intuitive than Google Analytics. The main dashboard provides an overview of key metrics such as active users, sessions, and events.

The left-hand menu allows users to navigate to different reports, including real-time data, audience insights, and acquisition reports.

Google Analytics 4

You can change what data the chart on the home page displays by using the drop-down menu as shown above.

The customisation options in GA4 are more advanced than in Google Analytics, allowing businesses to create custom events, custom dimensions, and custom metrics. Additionally, GA4 provides more advanced features such as machine learning-based insights and predictive metrics.

Key metrics to track in GA4 for SEO

Tracking key metrics in GA4 is essential for optimising for SEO. Some of the key metrics to track include:

  • Sessions: The number of sessions on a website over a specified period of time.
  • Users: The number of unique users that have visited a website over a specified period of time.
  • Pageviews: The number of pages that have been viewed on a website over a specified period of time.
  • Bounce rate: The percentage of users who leave a website after viewing only one page.
  • Average session duration: The average amount of time that users spend on a website during a session.
  • Conversion rate: The percentage of users who complete a desired action on a website, such as making a purchase or filling out a form.
  • Exit pages: The pages on a website where users are most likely to exit.

By tracking these metrics, you can gain insights into how users are interacting with your websites and identify areas for improvement.

Analysing website traffic in GA4

Analysing website traffic in GA4 involves looking at the different reports and metrics available within the tool. The real-time report provides a snapshot of current website activity, including active users, top pages, and top sources.

The audience report provides insights into the demographics of website visitors, such as age, gender, and location. The acquisition report shows where website visitors are coming from, such as organic search, paid search, or social media.

The behaviour report shows how users are interacting with the website, such as which pages are the most popular and which pages have the highest bounce rate.

Googel Analytics 4

Can I still see page views in GA4?

Yes, you can view pageviews in Google Analytics 4. Pageviews are one of the most important metrics that you can track on your website. This metric is important because it can help you understand the popularity of your content and how engaged your audience is with your website. Although we often think more about sessions and events these days, pageviews was the original way of tracking data – so if you’re old school, like me, you’ll want to figure out how to view pageviews on GA4 ASAP.

Although the new version of Google Analytics has introduced several changes, it still allows you to track the number of times users view your web pages. In Google Analytics 4, page views have been replaced by the term “screen views.” This change is a reflection of the fact that many users now access web content through mobile apps, which operate on screens rather than pages. However, the concept remains the same – screen views track the number of times a user views a particular screen or page.

Google Analytics 4

To view screen views in Google Analytics 4, you need to navigate to the “All Events” report. Here, you will see a breakdown of all user events on your website, including screen views. You can also see the number of times a particular screen was viewed, as well as the average time users spent on that screen. So even though Google Analytics 4 has introduced several changes, it still allows you to view pageviews (or screen views) on your website.

Creating custom reports in GA4

Creating custom reports in GA4 allows you to track and analyse data that is specific to your needs. Custom reports can be created using the custom report builder, which allows you to choose the metrics and dimensions you want to track. Custom reports can be saved and shared with other users within the Google Analytics account.

Tips for using GA4 for SEO optimisation

Some tips for using GA4 for SEO optimisation include:

  • Set up conversion goals to track user actions that are important for your business, such as form submissions or product purchases.
  • Use the behaviour flow report to see how users navigate through your website and identify areas for improvement.
  • Use the site search report to see what users are searching for on your website and identify gaps in your content.
  • Use the cohort analysis report to track how user behaviour changes over time and identify trends.
  • Use machine learning-based insights to identify opportunities for optimization and improvement.

Next steps for mastering GA4

Understanding the basics of Google Analytics and GA4 is essential for any SEO strategy. By tracking website traffic, user behaviour, and other key metrics, businesses can gain insights into how users interact with their websites and optimise for better SEO performance.

To get familiar with GA4, you should just spend a few hours exploring the different reports and metrics available, experiment with custom reports and events, and stay up-to-date with the latest features and updates.

It isn’t as scary as it looks! GA4 is actually very user-friendly!

13 comments

  1. Blimey, this is SUCH a helpful and informative post. I hate GA and use it as little as I can really haha, I don’t pay much attention to my views/sessions at all but this might prompt me to at least give it a bit of attention!

  2. Thanks for sharing this great in depth post on this! I really struggle to understand all of this type of stuff so its nice to see it broken down and made it a bit easier to understand.

  3. Thanks for sharing this info. I have been ignoring and procrastinating to set up GA4. But I guess it’s now time to do it. Earlier I used to refer to Google Analytics a lot but slowly started ignoring it. 🙂

  4. I’m rubbish with SEO since getting back into blogging and find this all a bit daunting and hard to install into WordPress (for some reason it gives me data from a Blogger website instead of my WordPress one) but this post has inspired me to properly look at it so I can get my SEO game up

  5. I’ve been ignoring the updates too! I definitely need to look more into this and set it up properly. If it is more user friendly though that’d be great! I find google analytics to be quite overwhelming at times. X

  6. wow this post is going to help SOO many creators switching over to GA4. I haven’t even done mine yet, my list of stuff to do is massive and I just can’t bring myself to do it yet!
    Rosie

  7. This is soooooo helpful, Corinne, thank you so much – I set up G4 on both my sites last year so I have just over 12 months’ data to compare against UA but I had no clue how to navigate G4. Perfect timing, thank you so much!

  8. This was so helpful! I have been trying to find out how to use it better and thought it might have been less user-friendly, but it’s actually just a learning curve! This really helped, thank you so much!

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