In this Google Analytics 4 tutorial, we’re going to show you how to use Google Analytics to collect data and measure your website’s performance.
If you’re not already using Google Analytics, then you’re missing out!
Google Analytics is another awesome Google product that lets you track your business’s visitors behaviors, website traffic and performance.
All you need is a Google Analytics account to get started, they take care of the rest for you.
So sit back, relax and reap the benefits of this incredible platform and get ready to boost your business online!
Read more: How to get started with Google Workspace
What is Google Analytics 4
Most people will already be familiar with Universal Analytics (the previous version of Google Analytics).
So, what is Google Analytics 4 and how does it differ from Universal Analytics?
Google Analytics 4 GA4) is known as ‘the future of Google Analytics’.
In other words – this is the new, updated version that will soon be replacing Universal Analytics altogether.
Since its release in 2020, there has been a significant amount of new and improved updates and features, all with the intention to give you more of in-depth insight of the activity on your website.
In July 2023, Universal Analytics will become totally obsolete, so it’s important you make the move to this updated version as soon as possible to ensure you don’t lose any important data!
Because of this, it’s vital that you understand the basics of how to use Google Analytics 4!
Want to learn more about how to switch to the new version of Google Analytics?
How to use Google Analytics 4
There are many advanced analytical features Google Analytics offers, however, that isn’t our focus for this beginner’s guide.
If you’re totally new to Google Analytics 4, this Google Analytics tutorial is for you!
We’re going to walk you through step-by-step how to use Google Analytics 4 including all their main basic features.
Essentially, you can leverage these basic and powerful analytic features to collect, measure and understand the performance of your website.
With that said, let’s get straight to it and dive right into Google Analytics 4!
1. How to get started with Google Analytics 4
Are you completely new to Google Analytics and want to connect Google Analytics with your Wix, Squarespace, Shopify or WordPress website?
Check out this Wix and Squarespace Google Analytics tutorial, Shopify and Google Analytics guide, and WordPress tutorial, where we take a deep dive into how to use Google Analytics with each platform.
When you’ve done that, simply jump back into this tutorial to get started.
Click here to get started with Google Analytics!
Once you’re inside your Google Analytics 4 account:
- Click ‘All accounts’ on your ‘home’ dashboard (see screengrab).
- Make sure you have the correct account selected under ‘Analytics Accounts’.
- Under ‘Properties and apps’, ensure the ‘GA4’ property for that account is selected and connected, not the Universal Analytics option.
Remember, Universal Analytics is the previous version of Google Analytics that will completely stop collecting data in July 2023.
For this specific website example, we have both Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 installed (see screengrab).
If you also have both versions installed, select your Google Analytics 4 account, as this is the version we’re concentrating on in this Google Analytics 4 tutorial.
For the purpose of this tutorial on how to use Google Analytics, we’ll use the property ‘Stewart Gauld’, one of our websites.
2. Reports snapshot
The ‘Reports’ section of your account is where you’ll spend most of your time.
To get to your reports:
- Make sure you’re on the ‘Home’ section of your Google Analytics account.
- Click the ‘Reports’ icon on the left-hand sidebar (see screengrab).
- This will take you to your ‘Reports snapshot’.
Reports are a performance overview of your website activity.
We’re going to now walk you through each of these snapshots.
The first report snapshot that you’ll see is ‘User activity’ (see screengrab).
At the top of this snapshot, you’re able to see an overview of:
1) The number of users on your website
2) New users visiting your site.
3) Average engagement time.
4) The total revenue (over a certain period of time).
- Click each of these headings to view more specific information (we’ll dive into these in more detail later in this tutorial).
It’s important to note that you’re able to change the date range of your report snapshot.
For us, we have ‘1st – 28th November 2022’ selected in the right-hand upper corner of the page.
This means that the number of users, new users, average engagement time, and total revenue for our website shown in this report are only related to this time period (28 days).
You can see that for us, the majority of our users are new users that have arrived at our website.
To change your date range:
- Click on the date range in the right upper corner.
- Simply select an option from the drop-down list.
- Alternatively, select ‘Custom’ for a custom date range’.
- Click ‘Compare’ to compare different date ranges.
Your date range will depend on what information or time period you’re specifically after.
However, for the purpose of this Google Analytics 4 tutorial, we’re going to stick with our date range, which is the last 28 days.
Let’s now click on and take a look at our ‘Average engagement time’ on our website throughout November as an example.
You can see that on Saturday 19th November, the average engagement time on our website ‘Stewart Gauld’ was 1 minute 28 seconds (see screengrab).
This means that this was the total time users spent navigating through our website.
- Next to ‘Average engagement time’, you have ‘Total revenue’, where you can measure the total revenue that your website makes.
However, as this is just a beginner’s guide on how to use Google Analytics 4, we’re not going to dive into how to use this feature within this tutorial.
In addition to this, did you know you can see information regarding real-time activity on your ‘User Activity’ dashboard?
To do this:
- Navigate over to ‘Users in the last 30 minutes’ (see screengrab).
Essentially, this is an overview of real-time activity on your website.
- Below ‘Users in the last 30 minutes’, you can see how many users visited your site in the last half hour.
- Underneath this, you’re able to view your users per minute.
- Next, below ‘Top Countries’, you can see what country those users are from.
- Below this, click ‘View real time’ to see your real-time dashboard in detail.
We’re going to be diving into your real-time dashboard shortly!
However, let’s continue with our report snapshot overview:
- Navigate down the page to ‘Insights’ (see screengrab)
This is where Google Analytics will provide you with insights, based on the data that they’ve collected.
- Click ‘View all insights’ for more insights generated by Google Analytics.
- Next to ‘Insights’, you’ll see the heading ‘Where do your new users come from?’
This is a snapshot of where your new users are coming from (see screengrab)
In other words, how did they find and land on your website?
This is where you can think about all the different platforms or channels that you leverage to get people to arrive on your website.
- First, you have ‘Organic search’.
This is when people type in keywords related to your website on Google and then arrive on your website.
- Next, you have an ‘Organic video’.
This could relate to videos on either your website or YouTube that people are finding and then clicking and landing on your website.
- Below this, you’ll see ‘Direct’.
Meaning someone has typed your website URL directly into their browser.
- You also have ‘Referral’.
This is where users are coming from other websites.
- And finally ‘Organic social’.
These are users that find your website through different social media channels.
You’re also able to view these in more detail by:
- Clicking ‘View user acquisition’.
- Scroll down to ‘What are your top campaigns?’ (see screengrab).
These are the exact same channels we just mentioned.
However, this is an overview of the number of sessions per channel.
As you can see, our number 1 channel for the number of sessions is ‘Organic search’ (see screengrab).
Now, there is a difference between sessions and users.
What does this mean?
Let’s imagine a website visitor arrives and navigates their way through your website.
That’s what we call a user.
However, if that particular user makes their way through your website multiple times (for example, 5 times over the specific date period you’ve selected), then that equals five sessions.
So again, this report snapshot displays the number of sessions per your different channels.
- Next to the ‘What are your top campaigns’ snapshot, you can view your ‘Users by country’ report overview breakdown.
This is where you can see what country your users are coming from (see screengrab).
- Scroll down to ‘How are active users trending?’
In other words, this is your user activity over a period of time.
For us, you can see our overall user activity trend is positive and growing over time in regard to the number of users on our website! (see screengrab).
- Here you can see the last 30 days, 7 days and 1 day of user activity.
- Next to that, there’s ‘How well do you retain your users’.
This snapshot is all about website user retention.
For example, let’s hover over to October 16th – October 22nd’ (see screengrab).
Over this time period, we had 912 users, then the week after we had a 1% retention.
What does this mean?
Basically, only seven of those users came back to our website.
You can also see that only 2 users returned the week after this.
It’s important to note that the amount of your user retention will be different from ours, and largely depends on the type of business you have and the products and services you provide!
This is a great way to gauge if your website has new users or returning users on your website.
To get more in-depth information about your user retention:
- Click ‘View retention’.
- Scroll down further to ‘Which pages and screens get the most views?’
This is the place to view a snapshot of how your top pages are performing.
For us, our top viewed page is this blog post here with 621 views over this November time period (see screengrab).
- Click ‘View pages and screens’ for more detailed information about your top pages and their performance.
- Next to this, there’s ‘What are your top events?’ (see screengrab).
Your events are activities that are happening on your website.
For example, you can see that for us, our top event is ‘Page view’, which is simply when a user views a page followed by these other events.
- Click ‘View events’ for more details.
- Next to this, you can see a snapshot of your conversions.
However, we’re not going to cover how to set up conversions in this Google Analytics 4 tutorial.
If you sell products:
- Scroll down to ‘What are your top selling products?’ to view your top products on your online store (see screengrab).
- Next to this, you have ‘How does the activity on your platforms compare?’
Within this snapshot, you can see how the activity on different platforms compares in regard to conversions.
And that takes us to the end of your Report snapshots dashboard!
Once you’ve had a good look through all these report snapshots:
- Scroll all the way back up to the top of the page.
Here you’ll see a few icons to the right of the page (see screengrab).
- Click ‘Edit comparisons’, which compares important data.
To share your report:
- Next to this click the ‘Share report’ icon.
- Select ‘Share link’ to share the link for people to view this specific information or
- Click ‘Download file’ to download the file.
To quickly generate important information happening on your website:
- Click the ‘Insights’ icon next to ‘Share’.
- Select ‘Demographics’.
These questions will then appear from the drop-down menu.
For the purpose of this tutorial on how to use Google Analytics 4, we’re going to click ‘What countries do my users come from?’ to find out where our users come from.
- You’ll then see your top country by users .
This information has been created by Google Analytics under ‘Insights’,
Your insights are a great way for you to quickly find out a particular piece of information about your website.
Additionally, if you want to find out something specific:
- Simply type in a related question in the search bar.
For example, under the search bar, you’ll notice the heading ‘Ask analytics intelligent’.
This is where you can ask questions like ‘How many users did I have last week’, ‘Trend of monthly users last year’ ‘Compare revenue, users from organic search versus paid’ .
This is where you should be thinking about specific questions you want to find out about relating to your website.
Google Analytics will then generate that information for you!
- Next to ‘Insights’, click ‘Customized report’ to customize your report’s snapshot.
Your report snapshot is made up of ‘Cards’.
- Simply drag and drop and drop each card to arrange them in order of how important that information is for you to then track.
To delete a card:
- Simply click the ‘X’ icon on the card you want to delete.
That will then remove that card from your dashboard.
To add additional cards to your report snapshot dashboard:
- Scroll down the page.
- Below all the cards on the right-hand side, click ‘Add cards’.
This is where you can add ‘Summary cards’ (see screengrab).
- These cards are then categorized into ‘Life cycle’ cards and ‘User cards’.
- Simply click on the card you want to add.
- Click ‘Add card’ in the right-hand corner.
You should then be able to see your new card at the bottom of your report snapshot dashboard.
When selecting and deselecting these cards, really take the time to think about the data, events, and information that you want to track and add relevant cards accordingly
Once you’ve done this:
- Click ‘Save’ at the top of the page.
- Select ‘Save changes to current report’ or
- ‘Save as a new report’.
This is completely up to you and your personal preferences.
3. Comparing Analytics
As we mentioned at the beginning of this Google Analytics 2023 tutorial, the report snapshot is the place where beginners will spend most of their time.
One of the most important things to remember when getting started with Google Analytics 4 is that you should be using this report snapshot to analyze and compare your website’s performance over different time periods.
To do this:
- Click the date range in the top right-hand corner again.
- Turn on ‘Compare’.
- Select the date you want to compare your data with (see screengrab).
We’re going to choose ‘Same period last year’.
This means we’re going to compare the last 28 days with the exact same 28 days last year.
- Click ‘Apply’.
You’ll then be able to see a clear comparison of the two over on the left-hand side of the screen (see screengrab).
This will compare all the information we previously covered (within your report snapshot) so you’re able to view any growth and any percentage increase your website has had from the previous year.
To turn off the comparison between different years:
- Click your date range again.
- Simply turn off ‘Compare’.
- Click ‘Apply’.
Next, we’re going to walk you through a more detailed view of analytics regarding ‘Real time’ reports, the users ‘Life cycle’ and the different ‘User behaviors’.
4. Realtime report
As mentioned earlier, you’re able to view your users on your website in real-time.
However, follow the steps below for an in-depth understanding of this process:
- Click ‘Realtime’ below ‘Reports’ on the left-hand side or
- Select ‘View realtime’ under your ‘Users in the last 30 minutes’ snapshot.
You’ll then arrive on your ‘Realtime’ report (see screengrab).
For us specifically, you can see that in the last 30 minutes, we’ve had 2 users on our website and then a detailed explanation of those real-time users.
This report is ideal for website owners to identify what type of visitors are visiting your website right now!
We recommend leveraging this report for example when you’ve just created a campaign across different social media channels, as you’re able to view the performance of that campaign in real-time.
5. Acquisition report
Another report you can run within Google Analytics 4 is an ‘Acquisition’ report, relating to the ‘Life cycle’ of your users.
In a nutshell, an acquisition report is a breakdown of how your visitors have found your website.
To run your acquisition report:
- Click ‘Acquisition’ within ‘Life cycle’ on the left-hand side bar.
- Select ‘Acquisition overview’.
As a beginner, this is where you’ll spend most of your time regarding anything to do with your website acquisition and how your visitors are finding your website.
However, for the purpose of this Google Analytics 4 beginners tutorial, we’re going to click on ‘Acquisition overview’.
- Within ‘Acquisition overview’, you’ll again see a ‘Realtime’ snapshot (see screengrab).
- Scroll down to view any new users and all the different channels that are sending users to your website.
- Next to this, you’ll notice the number of sessions coming from these different channels.
- You can see the metrics per session for any Google Ads you’re running.
- Below this, you can also view any ‘Lifetime value’ information (if you’re tracking monetization).
- Similarly to the report snapshot previously mentioned, you can change your date range and share or customize your acquisition report.
To view your user acquisition in more detail and find out how your website users are being acquired:
- Click ‘User acquisition’ on the left-hand side below ‘Acquisition overview’.
Fore more information on your website sessions:
- Select ‘Traffic acquisition’ below ‘User acquisition’.
However, as this is just a beginner’s tutorial on Google Analytics 4, we’re not going to go into detail about these advanced analytical features.
6. Engagement report
This is where you can gain an overview of the engagement of your website and exactly what your users are doing on your website.
To run an engagement report:
- Click ‘Engagement’ under ‘Acquisition’ on the left-hand sidebar.
- Select ‘Engagement overview’ (see screengrab).
We’ve already talked briefly about your engagement when we looked at the report snapshot, however, this is your opportunity to dive deeper into your engagement to find out what your website users are doing.
To do this:
- Navigate back to the left-hand side bar.
- Under ‘Engagement overview’, click ‘Events’ to view the types of ‘Events’ your pages are getting in more detail.
- Select ‘Conversions’ for website conversions.
- Click ‘Pages and screens’ for more information on your website page performance.
- You’ll also find more data on your user engagement here (see screengrab).
7. Monetization report
If you’ve set up monetization for your website:
- Select ‘Monetization’ on the left-hand sidebar.
- Click ‘Monetization overview’.
Monetization is where you can find out more about your website users and their buyer behavior.
We haven’t set up monetization for this specific website as this is just a beginner’s tutorial.
- Within ‘Monetization’, you can click to view your eCommerce purchases, app purchases, and publisher apps (see screengrab).
These 3 options are simply the different ways you can create revenue through your website.
8. Retention report
Your website retention is all about the amount of returning users to your website, and how you can bring back returning visitors.
To generate retention information for your website:
- Simply click ‘Retention’ on the left-hand sidebar.
9. Demographics report
If you want to run a report to find out more information about your audience:
- Click ‘Demographics’ on the left-hand side bar below ‘User’.
- Simply click ‘Demographics overview’.
You’ll then be able to see an overview of your users within different demographics to find out who your audience is.
Your demographics are broken down into categories such as ‘Country’, ‘City’, ‘Gender’, ‘Interests’, ‘Users in the last 30 minutes’, ‘Language’ and ‘Age’ (see screengrab).
10. Tech report
This is the report for anything ‘Tech’ related, from platforms, operating systems or what device your users are on when scrolling through your website.
To generate your tech analytics:
- Simply click ‘Tech’ below ‘Demographics’ on the left-hand sidebar.
- Select ‘Tech overview’.
- Here you can view your user ‘Platforms’, meaning where your users are coming from.
For us, you can see all our users are from the web (see screengrab).
- Below this, you can view the operating system’s users are on such as Windows, iOS Android and more.
- Next to this you’ll see ‘Users by platform’.
This is related to whether users are on ‘Web/desktop’, ‘Web / mobile’ or ‘Web / Tablet’ when navigating our website.
- Under this, you can view the browsers your users are using to search through your website.
Our top performing browser is Chrome, then Safari than Firefox.
This ‘Tech overview’ report is so important as it helps you figure out what platform browser or operating system you should optimize your website for.
Think about it..there’s nothing worse than going on a website on your choice of the operating system, and the website looks clunky or unprofessional!
So for us, the main takeaway from this report is to optimize our website for Chrome users and desktop and mobile platforms.
- At the bottom of this report, you also have ‘Screen resolution’ (see screengrab).
This is another important factor to consider when optimizing your website for your users.
Our top screen resolution used by website visitors is 1920 x 1080, so we should make sure our website is responsive on this screen resolution.
Read more: 5 ways to optimize your website for lead generation
Now that we’ve covered a brief overview of all your basic analytic reports, you’re ready to take the plunge and dive into more in-depth analytics!
You can do this by creating reports and graphs for particular data you want to collect and measure.
To do this:
- Click ‘Explore’ on the very left-hand sidebar (see screengrab).
- Simply click ‘Blank’ to create a report from scratch or
- Select ‘Template gallery’ to choose a report from a template.
However, as this is an advanced feature. we’re not going to go into detail about this in this tutorial on how to use Google Analytics 4.
This is everything to do with your paid advertising for your website.
If your business uses paid advertising through Google Ads, this is where you’d go to manage this once you connect Google Ads with your Google Analytics 4 account.
To access this feature:
- Navigate back over to the left-hand side.
- Click ‘Advertising’.
However, we’ll explore this advanced analytics feature in a more advanced tutorial as this is a Google Analytics 4 tutorial purely for beginners.
Read more: How to setup Google Ads conversion tracking
To create new events and view your default current events for your website:
- Click ‘Configure’ on the left-hand side bar.
- Here you can see all the default events you’re currently tracking (see screengrab).
- Additionally, select ‘Create event’ to create a specific event you want to track.
Events can include a specific conversion (for example, a successful booking form submission) or a particular ‘Click’ on your website.
Additionally, you could create an ‘Event’ when someone purchases an item or any other important event you want to track.
However, that is everything we wanted to show you in this Google Analytics 4 tutorial for beginners!
You should now be able to navigate your way through your report overviews and specific dashboards for any piece of information related to traffic, visitor behavior, and website performance.
How to use Google Analytics 4 – Video
We hope you now have the confidence to use these fundamental and important analytical features to identify an in depth overview of your website visitors behaviors, and the overall performance of your website – all located right inside your Google account!
If you’d like to learn more, check out our full video tutorial below, where we dive right into this process!