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Stop Avoiding GA4 (here’s how)

At this point, your Google Analytics Universal account is no longer collecting data and your GA4 account has been fully set up and running for months (if not a full year), pulling user data, tracking conversions and providing valuable insights.

For those of you who are logging in on a daily basis, and toggling between Explore and Reports with a Library stacked with custom reports – way to go! What I hear more often though, is that this transition has been far from seamless and even now, there’s a mix of avoidance, trepidation, annoyance (we’re looking at you Google UX) and good old fashioned not-knowing where to start. If this sounds like you – read on as I share three of the simplest and most useful ways to view and utilize your data. 

1. Traffic Acquisition Report

Use case: See your traffic patterns and where your online leads are coming from. Compare this data against your spending and resource allocation and compare your online leads and MQLs for your top channels. 

I’ll be honest. This is my favorite and most-viewed report in part because it’s the most similar to the report I used most in UA (Universal Analytics). What was once the All Traffic report sorted by Channels, can now be found (with a few key updates) by choosing Reports > Life Cycle > Acquisition > Traffic Acquisition: Session Default Channel Group

This report clearly lays out your total users (whereas other GA4 reports focus on only new users) as well as engagement rate (more or less the inverse of bounce rate) and conversions. Track your month-over-month traffic and conversions by adjusting the dates in the top right and scrolling down on the calendar pop-up to toggle on the compare option. 

2. Traffic Acquisition Report: Filtered for SEO

Use case: Check how your SEO is performing by seeing which landing pages brought in the most traffic. Use this information to prioritize your next round of SEO and content writing efforts.

A big part of what I promote with our Digital Growth clients is how to create value through content. Our recommendation is to build up a sustainable way to publish new content on your brand’s website consistently and use specific keywords to improve your overall position in the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) and increase organic traffic to your website. 

Now that you have viewed the Traffic Acquisition Report (per above), we’ll make a few adjustments to get more granular. To the right of the channels, you’ll see a blue plus sign. Click in and you’ll see an intimidating number of options, ignore them for now and use that search option and type “landing page”. The option that pops up is the one you want – “landing page + query string”. Once you highlight to choose it, you’ll want to filter the first column to show only organic traffic by using that main search bar and typing “organic search.” I like to use the small arrow next to users to sort from highest to lowest and find the pages large numbers are users are landing on to enter my website. Again, use the calendar drop down to compare time periods and trends.


3. Conversion Paths Attribution

Use case: Get a unique look at what channels contribute to your lead gen prior too the visit where they convert.    

You’ll find this report by choosing Advertising > Attribution > Conversion Paths.

I have yet to review this screen with a client who doesn’t have an ah-ha moment while looking at their data presented in this way. What makes this report so interesting is that most of us use last-touch attribution to credit online leads to the channel they came from when they filled out that form. Doing so certainly makes for a simpler story, but it also ignores the multiple touch points so many of our customers have prior to converting. This might show you for instance that your Google Ads campaigns you thought were doing you no good are bringing in users early in their journey even though they come back and convert via an organic listing. It also shows the many touch points leads go through – giving you, the marketer, some leverage to show where your budget is going and why you need it. 

GA4 conversion path report

Last Words

I hope this gives you some peace of mind and the confidence to go into GA4 with purpose. By getting used to one view or report, you’ll be able to start sorting and filtering your data in other ways. And once you feel more comfortable with GA4, I bet you’ll find it’s hard to avoid not logging in more often. 

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