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Jul

5 Tips for Getting the Most out of Google Analytics 4

Getting the most out of Google’s new analytics platform, Google Analytics 4 (GA4) can seem like a daunting challenge – but we are here to help. Following a successful GA4 migration, you are bound to find the new interface different from what you’re used to.

There are some shortcomings and lots of improvements. If you’re ready to utilize Google Analytics 4 and not switch to alternatives, then you will find this post helpful in setting up your analytics.

GA4 is fundamentally different from Universal Analytics (UA), mainly in the way that it tracks and displays data. So, switching from UA to GA4 can be a difficult transition. But don’t worry, we have in-depth knowledge and extensive experience in GA4 implementation and analysis. 

In this article, we will explore five of our pro tips to help you maximize the potential of GA4 and gain a competitive edge for your app or website. 

1. How to Add Universal Analytics Metrics to GA4 Reports

Traditional UA metrics like bounce rate and conversion rate have limited support in GA4, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t use them to measure them. Bounce rate and conversion rate are crucial for understanding the effectiveness of your app or website and the success of your digital marketing strategies. To measure these metrics in GA4, follow the steps below: 

 

  1. Open the standard GA4 Traffic Acquisition report.
  2. Click on the “Edit” icon in the top right corner. At a minimum, you will need access to the GA4 ‘Editor’ role.  “Analyst” and “Marketer” roles do not have permission to access this feature. 
  3. Optionally, you can delete all of the metrics that are not relevant to you.
  4. Use the built-in search box to find “Bounce Rate”. 
  5. Click on “Apply” and save your changes to either the current report or a new one.

 

User Conversion Rate vs Session Conversion Rate Metrics in GA4

Session conversion rate is the number of conversions in a selected time period divided by the number of sessions in the same period. 

User conversion rate counts the same way but focuses on conversions per unique user. It divides the total number of users in the same period by the number of users who performed the conversion. It is important to calculate both of these conversion rates in GA4 to get a more comprehensive view of conversion performance and user behavior.

 

2. How to Change GA4 Conversion Events Counting Methods

Universal Analytics uses the once-per-session counting method. This means that if a user completes 3 conversions in one setting, the setting counts as 1 conversion. On the other hand, GA4 uses a once-per-event counting method. This means that it counts an event as a conversion every time it occurs.

However, you may want to track only unique conversions per session. For instance, if a brochure download conversion is set on your website, and users initiate multiple downloads per session, you can always see how many of these events occurred, but you may need at least one download per session as a conversion.  Otherwise, the conversion rate can even exceed 100%, which will distort your statistics. 

 

By using unique conversions per session you can get a better understanding of how well your app or website is converting visitors into customers.

 

Events in Google Analytics 4

An event in Google Analytics 4 allows you to measure a specific interaction on your website or app. For example, you can use an event to measure when someone clicks a link, submits a form, or starts watching a video. In GA4, each interaction is considered an event; the first visit, the start of the session, the page view, the scroll, the click, etc. Now that you are no longer limited to three event levels, you are free to create any parameters you want.

When you create a GA4 property and data stream, you will have some standard events enabled. Most events will almost always work correctly, like page views, outbound clicks, or scrolling. However, some standard events such as submitting a form or watching a video, may not work correctly.  The new GA4 structure allows you to configure important events from scratch so that your events will always work.

 

Conversions in Google Analytics 4

Conversions, like purchase completion, quiz completion, or form submission, are crucial for measuring the success of your app, website, and digital marketing efforts. You can use GA4’s Setup Assistant tool to import conversions from UA. For imported conversions through Setup Assistant to work, a number of criteria are required, otherwise, these events won’t work correctly. We recommend setting up new conversions using the GA4 structure.

Thankfully, GA4 has recently added the option to select the conversion counting method. To do this, follow the steps below:

  1. Open the “Admin” panel and then the “Events” section.
  2. Toggle the switch to turn on an event as a conversion. It should now appear in the “Conversions” section.
  3. Click on the 3-dot icon in the “Conversion Events” table and select the option to change the counting method.

NOTE: You can modify this setting at any time for any conversion action, but the changes will only apply to future conversions and not past data.

 

3. GA4 Thresholds and Discrepancies, Reporting Identity Methods

 

What is a Data Threshold in GA4?

A data threshold means that GA4 might remove some data from a report or exploration if the amount of data collected does not meet the threshold value. Data thresholds are applied to prevent anyone viewing a report or exploration from inferring the identity of individual users based on demographics, interests, or other signals present in the data. Because of this, data thresholds are system defined and it is not possible to adjust them.

 

How to Identify Reports with Data Thresholds

It is easy to identify which reports GA4 has applied data thresholds to. When a threshold is applied to a report or exploration, the data indicator changes color. You can hover over the indicator for more information on the threshold. 

 

When are Data Thresholds Applied in GA4?

Google Analytics can remove some data from a report or exploration when Google Signals is enabled. This is done to protect user privacy and comply with data protection regulations. 

 

What Google Signals May be Good for You?

If you want to learn more about your user’s behaviors, Google Signals can help you. It enhances user tracking and analytics capabilities by enabling cross-device and cross-platform tracking for signed-in Google users. 

Google Signals can collect demographic data or use audiences and import them into Google Ads for remarketing campaigns. Don’t forget that this will only work for users who have logged into their Google account and given permission for data collection. 

However, GA4 can remove some data from a report or exploration when Google Signals is enabled and you might lose a significant amount of data in your reports. But don’t rush to turn it off, we have a few tips on how to take advantage of Google Signals and how to get rid of thresholds:

 

  • Reporting Identity Options: Google Analytics measures users across devices and platforms. The good part is the option you choose does not affect data collection or processing. You can switch between the options at any time without making any permanent impact on data.
  • Device-based method: If you don’t implement a User ID on the site, just select the device-based method to see unsampled data without thresholds. This method is similar to the default option in UA. 

Here is an example of how the data can change. 

google analytics 4 ga4 threshold applied

Picture 1 – Thresholding applied

 

google analytics 4 ga4 no threshold

Picture 2 – Unsampled data

 

Look at how much the numbers have changed and how many new campaigns, sources, keywords, or anything else has been removed from the reports.

You will see the difference in your reports right after changing the identity method, but in some cases, it may take up to 24 hours for the reports to become unsampled. Unfortunately, if you only have a user ID, this option is not available to you. There is no method that allows you to use a User ID without using Google Signals. 

 

You may have already collected data and understand your audience, so you can turn off Google Signals and generate unsampled data. 

 

4. How to Link Google Ads Account to GA4 and Reveal Hidden Metrics

Linking your Google Ads Account to GA4 allows you to exchange valuable data between the platforms and reveal hidden metrics. Here are a few reasons to link your Google Ads account to GA4: 

 

  • Improve your performance measuring and analysis. 
  • Access engagement metrics and reports, like “Bounce Rate”. 
  • Improve your Google Ads reporting.
  • Improve your visual analysis of key data with visualizations like “Tree Maps” and “Sankey”.
  • Identify your biggest conversion drivers.
  • Increase your customer journey insights.
  • Generate tailored retargeting ads for your potential new customers. 
  • Easily integrate GA4 and Google Ads with other tools and platforms like, Google Search Console, to further improve your data analysis. 

 

Linking Google Ads Account to GA4 Properly

To link your Google Ads account to GA4, you will need the following permissions:

  • “Editor” role in Google Analytics.
  • “Administrator” access to the Google Ads account.

Once you have these permissions, you can link your Google Ads account by following these steps: 

  • Click on “Admin” in Google Analytics.
  • Go to “Product Links” and select “Google Ads Links”.
  • Click the link and follow the instructions from that funnel.
  • Review your settings and ensure that you see “Link Created.”

 

Finding the Google Ads Report in GA4

Google has moved the Ads Report to the Acquisition Overview Report. So, you will need to click on the “View Google Ads campaign” link to see the report. If you want to add this report separately to the standard acquisition report, go to “Library” > “Edit Collections” > “Create New Report”.

NOTE: You will not find the Google Ads report by default at this point. You also can’t choose a template for Google Ads. Furthermore, if you decide to create a blank report, you won’t be able to find metrics like clicks or cost. But we have some tips to help you work around these issues: 

 

  • Return to the report through the card in the “Acquisition Overview”.
  • Click on the “Customize Report” icon in the top right corner. If you don’t see this icon, then you don’t have access and you will need to request an “Editor” role. 
  • After opening the report, you don’t need to make any changes. Just name the report and save it as a new one.
  • Return to the “Library”, and you will find your saved Google Ads report.
  • Open it and go to the “Metrics” section to see the previously hidden metrics.

Important: Do not delete Google Ads metrics that were not available before. You will not be able to find them. If you accidentally delete these metrics, don’t apply the changes, go back and reopen the metrics section.

 

  • After you’re done with the metrics and editing the report, click save and save again as a new report. Your template will always be at hand in the “Library Reports”.
  • Name the new report.
  • Add this new report to the “Standard Collection”. 
  • In your “Standard Life Cycle Collection”, click on “Edit Collection”. 
  • In the search box, find your Google Ads report and drag and drop it into the “Acquisition” section. Then save changes to the current collection.

 

To check the reports, open the “Acquisition” drop-down list. Here you can change the primary dimension to see, for example, a performance at the keyword level.

 

With this simple trick, you can add Google Ads performance to your standard report and learn how to use metrics that are not available by default and combine them with standard GA4 metrics. You can also access the hidden Google Ads metrics in the “Collections” section.

 

5. How to Access Google Search Console Reports in GA4 and Set Up Custom Organic  Reports

GA4’s integration with Search Console allows you to analyze organic searches related to your site. 

You can, for example, see where your site is ranked in search results, which queries lead to clicks, and how those clicks translate to user behavior, like which landing pages engage users more and how many users convert.

 

Creating Links Between Google Search Console and GA4

To create links between Google Search Console and GA4, use the following steps: 

 

  • In Google Analytics, click “Admin”.
  • In the Property column, under “Product Links”, click “Search Console Links”.
  • Click “Link”.
  • You should be a verified owner for one or more “Search Console” properties. Click “Choose Accounts”, then select the account you want to link your property to and click “Confirm”.
  • Click “Next”, then select “Web Data Stream” for your site. Click “Next”, then review and submit your configuration settings.

NOTE: The integration makes two new GSC reports available in GA4 that are not published by default, which means they will not appear in current reports.

 

  • Go to the “Library” section to see your new GSC reports. You can simply publish a GSC collection, and after that collection will appear in your reports. 

NOTE: The Google Search Console only contains data from Google’s organic search and does not contain data from other search engines.

 

  • Before publishing, you can create 3 reports based on GA4 data, which will contain not only google organic search, but any organic channel.
  • In the library section click “Create a New Report” and “Create Detail Report”. Use the existing templates. 
    1. Traffic Acquisition Template: You will only have organic traffic in the report, so you need to replace the main dimension with the source. Anything unnecessary can be removed. Some interesting metrics can be added here too, such as “Bounce Rate” and “Conversion Rate”. You will need to add a “Session Medium Filter” to match the organic search and then save your report. 
    2. Landing Page Template: Use the same steps as the “Traffic Acquisition” template.
    3. Tech Details Template: Repeat the same steps as the previous two templates. Here, we recommend replacing the default browser parameter with something more interesting, like “Device Category”. The other parameters will be just as useful in some cases, and you can easily analyze the other dimensions as well.
  • Finally, you can create a new collection with your reports. Use the existing “Search Console” template, as you will need these reports.
  • Save the new report and publish it. 

 

Search Console

Before you use the Search Console, here are a few things you need to know: 

Google Organic Search Queries: This feature displays search queries and associated Search Console metrics for the linked Search Console property. You can drill deeper into the data by Search Console dimensions, but not by Analytics dimensions.

Google Organic Search Traffic: This feature displays landing pages with associated Search Console and Analytics metrics. You can drill into the data by the Country and Device dimensions. There is now a special section in GA4 where all the information you need for an organic search is collected.

 

Summary

In this article, we’ve discussed how to leverage GA4 to add UA metrics, track unique conversions per session, manage data thresholds, link Google Ads for hidden metrics, and access Search Console Reports for organic search insights.

By taking advantage of these 5 tips, you can unleash the full potential of GA4 for your website or app. 

If you want to learn more about the best ways to utilize GA4, don’t hesitate to contact us today!

About the author
Liudmila Kiseleva

Liudmila is one of the best-in-class digital marketers and a data-driven, very hands-on agency owner. With top-level education and experience, Liudmila is a true expert when it comes to digital marketing strategies and execution.

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