Mar 27, 2023
I know… getting used to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is a challenge for many of us😓! Besides having to understand the events and configure the new tags, we now need to learn how to create new explorations to underestand deeper the information from our website 😤.
At Gretel, we used views in GA3 for these explorations, and one of the most loved ones was monitoring our blog traffic to quickly detect which articles were most popular.
Of course, these reports can be done with external tools (if you have enough budget - not in our case!), by creating a dashboard in Looker Studio (for free!), or by doing a simple Report on GA4 (check here how we did it). However, it's always good to know how to create deeper explorations in GA4 to see what option fits best for you!
Let’s go step by step! At Gretel, we used a simple report to track our blog traffic in GA3, and we checked:
This is our old, beloved view ❤️:
This exploration can be as complicated as you want, but from my experience, I recommend that you narrow it down as much as possible to have a view that you can analyze in less than 1 minute! Less is sometimes more!
⚠️ IMPORTANT: we've been able to create this report very easily because all our blog pages have a common directory (URL) /community/.
If in your case you have a different structure, either through positioning or SEO, or if you have several blogs, and don’t have a common directory, you'll probably have to use "Google Tag Manager" to identify the events of each website and differentiate them from the rest of the URLs.
If you're still here with us, it's time to go into the GA4 Reports. Are you excited to find out how?👀
To make a custom exploration, you need to access the Google Analytics 4 Analysis Hub. This is a collection of analyses that'll help you customize deeper insights from your visitors' behavior.
It’s a functionality that visually seems more limited than the custom reports in Google Analytics, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth the complexity is determined by your knowledge and requirements.
So, how can you access a report? Inside the left menu in GA4, go to the "EXPLORE" section.
You could start with one of the templates they offer or start from scratch. The templates currently available are:
However, we’ll start with the blank template, which will preselect the Free Form by default.
As mentioned above, our goal is to track blog traffic specifically. For this, we want to create a table that shows us the articles that are most viewed, and how much time users spent on those articles over a certain period of time.😱
Don’t panic! We’ll go step by step:
First, let's go to the "EXPLORE" section in the general drop-down menu of GA4.
Once here, you’ll create a "NEW EXPLORATION". What do you find at this point? 👇
This column includes all the data options and metrics that you will be able to select for your report. You define what you want to use here and then add it to the following column.
You can find different variables:
Here, you can also change the name and select the period you are interested in investigating.
Here you’ll find what you want to show in the report. You’ll be able to select which of the previously stated metrics and variables you want to appear at each point. This can be done with a drag & drop feature.
You can find different fields:
This section will show the report you configured.
✍️Note: sometimes it may take a while to appear, if you do not see any information, test by varying the filters or metrics, and wait a few minutes for them to appear.
The first step is to name the report and select the period you want to look at specifically. GA4 will only let you see the traffic since the day you configured the properties to measure traffic with Google Analytics 4.
Next, let's select the dimensions and metrics you consider most important. If you have this clearly defined, you can skip all this, but we’ll go step by step 👣!
Segments in GA4 mean just what they meant in Universal Analytics. They're just ways of putting your traffic into buckets so that you can see a segment alone or compare it with another one.
We haven't used any, but you can select something custom or based on what GA4 suggests. For example:
What is a dimension? It is the attributes of our visitors, for example, country, age, source, etc.
Google offers some preconfigured dimensions, but it is possible to create custom dimensions (👉check here how to create custom dimensions).
To select the available dimensions, you can browse through the different categories available or quickly search in the search bar provided.
In our report, we chose the following:
Once you choose them, select "IMPORT" to add them to the report.
What is a metric? It is the quantitative measurement of dimensions.
As with dimensions, you can choose the metrics you want to analyze.
We've made a selection of the main metrics, but as we’ve been saying, you can make it as complex as you need:
Here we left the “Free Form”, which is the type of graph we found most interesting for this type of visualization.
Depending on the type of technique you have pre-selected, the display options as well as the other fields may change.
We selected the table that is more intuitive to see the traffic of specific pages.
If you have created a segment in "Segments", you can add it here to see how this segment behaves. We didn’t use them in this instance.
In the rows, you’ll add the dimensions you have selected.
In Universal Analytics, dimensions are placed in rows and metrics in columns. In GA4, you can add dimensions to both rows and columns to create the in-depth report you need to understand your data.
For this report, we added the following:
This can be done with drag & drop in a moment! Once selected, you can predefine the number of rows you want to be displayed in the report.
If you are new to using GA4 Explore reports we recommend sticking to adding dimensions only to rows at first and adding dimensions to columns when you feel more confident.
We haven’t used any metrics in columns.
In custom reports on Universal Analytics, you only had metrics. In GA4, this section is called Values.
You can also drag and drop all the metrics you want to preview into this section😉. For this report, we chose:
Here, you can also select the type of chart you want: "Bar chart, plain text, or heat map".
In this example, we’re interested in having the heat map 🔥, to understand the highest values in each case.
You can drag and drop dimensions or metrics into your filters, depending on what you're trying to set up.
For the report, we’ll filter so that only the URLs that contain the common word in all our articles this /community will appear.
Select “LINK URL” from the dimensions we added earlier and set the criteria.
Once you have your report created, in another tab, you can make another chronological table by channels ⏰.
✍️Recommendation: If a filter is going to be common to all the tabs of the Explore report, it is preferable that you apply it to the first tab, and from there, you duplicate that tab (by clicking and dragging the filter) and change the configuration of metrics and display type for the other tabs of the report.
Now that you have your exploration set up, share it with your team! Select the “Share Analysis” icon on the right side of your dashboard.
Also, if you need to share it with external parties, you can download the report and save it to your Google Sheets as a PDF, a CSV, or a TSV.
We hope that with this guide, you can get started with your reporting in Google Analytics 4 and that this helps you monitor better your blog traffic.🙌
If you have any comments or improvements we can add, please share them with us at 📧 firstname.lastname@example.org
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