GA4 – From Setup to Reporting
Apologies for not publishing in a while – early January was busy with onboarding new Google Ads clients and finding out that DriveTraffic was nominated as SEO Agency of the Year (PS will you vote for us?)
At the end of 2022 most of the GA4 posts were around setting it up and starting to collect data. There is just over 4 months before Universal Analytics (UA) stops collecting data so we’ve got to keep moving forward and therefore this quarter we’ll focus on reading/accessing the data in GA4 (that’s where I am with clients… starting to rely on data from GA4 rather than UA).
Few Out of the Box Reports
Just to continue the pain of moving to GA4, you’ll be delighted to know (sarcasm present) that there are none to little reports built into GA4! You have to build your own d*m reports!
Fortunately I don’t need a ton of reports so will share with you the ones that I am using so far and instructions on how to set them up. A couple of things to note:
- There are templates available for Looker Studio (which pulls in GA4 data) so you don’t have to create your reports from scratch.
- There are some limitations to how much data you can pull into a single Looker Studio report (this is new as of Dec 2022 or Jan 2023) and other software companies are springing into action to act as replacements (e.g. Supermetrics and BigQuery).
Resources for Creating your Own Free Form Reports
Google describes explorations (now called Free Form Reports) as a collection of advanced techniques that go beyond standard reports to help you uncover deeper insights about your customers' behavior. When you want to explore data in more detail, you can use explorations to:
- quickly perform ad hoc queries
- easily configure and switch between techniques
- sort, refactor, and drill down into the data
- focus on the most relevant data by using filters and segments
- create segments and audiences
- share your explorations with other users of the same Google Analytics property
- export the exploration data for use in other tools
Understanding Exploration Templates in Google Analytics 4 (Data Driven U)
Free Form Reports (Optimize Smart)
Google Ads Specific Reports
Out of the box, GA4 does not provide reporting on the name of the campaign as there is no Google Ads Campaign dimension in the reporting section. The Reports section does not contain any Google Ads metrics, such as clicks, impressions, average CPCs, etc. (helpful right?)
Creating your own report via Free Form Explorations is not too difficult thanks to instructions from these 3 sites:
Internal Search Reports
GA4 Standard Reports
The most basic report is available in Admin > Events > view_search_results, and then you will find a widget with the more popular search terms (or, you can also go to Reports > Engagement > Events > view_search_results).
The standard report for site search is not customizable so if you want to make changes, you’ll need to use a Free form Exploration Report (Explore >> free form).
Not seeing internal search data? Review the setup instructions at OptimizeSmart for help.
To find Organic new users or Organic sessions, navigate like this:
Acquisitions > Overview
New users by User medium = organic or
Sessions by User medium = organic
For screenshots, to guide you, check out SEOSLY Guide to Organic Users