Search Engine Optimization

How to Use Google Analytics 4: A Beginners' Guide

If you are a beginner and don’t know anything about Google Analytics, this guide is for you.

But what if you are quite familiar with it?

Don’t close the web page yet.

I’m sure that you will find a couple of new terms or insights that you haven’t had time to get acquainted with.

How is that even possible?

Believe me, if you haven’t switched to Google Analytics 4 yet, it’s possible.

What is Google Analytics?

Imagine you have created this outstanding product/service, wrote down your marketing strategy and started your first promotion campaign.

But what about monitoring your campaign, measuring and analyzing the results. How are you going to know if your efforts were successful? How are you going to measure your marketing efforts, your sales, or understand your audience’s demographics? It’s where Google Analytics comes in handy.

So, how its  beneficial:

  • It provides you with a real-time data
  • Allows you to understand your audience
  • Helps you to set events
  • Allows you to monitor your paid campaigns
  • Allows to track a user’s journey
  • Provides you with rich data on the used channels 
  • It’s completely free
  • It shows quite accurate and reliable data
  • Etc.


Google Analytics 4 Home Interface


GA 4 interface is different from Universal Analytics’. Google added new terms and additional information that you can benefit from. 

When looking at the Google Analytics 4 screenshot, you can see that some metrics are completely different, and there is an “Add comparison” button that allows you to compare your data by adding up to  5 conditions and offers new data sets (like engagement rate or the average number of engaged sessions per user).

The graph at the right end shows users in the last 30 minutes and the top countries that you have visits from.

Machine learning automated insights are a new addition to Google Analytics 4 and show unusual (good or bad) behaviour or anomalies.


You can access more insights by clicking on the Intelligence button on the right top corner of the Analytics home page.


The other sections of the Google Analytics 4 overview page are pretty similar to the Universal Analytics so you will not have any difficulty understanding them.

Let’s not waste any more time on the homepage and move to the other important reports.

Google Analytics 4 Real Time Report


The real-time report shows people on a world map that are currently viewing your website. It shows the number of current users, users sources, used devices, event counts and more. All you need to do is scroll down a bit and look at the detailed data presented here. 

If you want to inspect individual users, you can click on the  ‘View User Snapshot’ button.

Google Analytics 4 Acquisition Overview


This section shows the sources, campaigns, marketing channels and mediums through which users are finding your website.   It includes four graphs that display New users, Sessions (the number of sessions started on your website or app) and Lifetime value (it allows you to understand the different users’ values for your business based on lifetime performance).

To understand what metrics are important and how you can interpret all the data shown here, let’s dive deeper and have a look at each section separately.

New Users

This section shows how many new users visited your website in the given period of time, and from which outlets. The main metrics are:

User medium – It includes three components – none, referral and organic.

  1. None (direct) traffic means that Google Analytics couldn’t identify the source of such traffic or the referrer. You may think that the only direct traffic can be the result of a user typing in a URL. But you are wrong. There are several ways that your website gets direct traffic:
  • Bookmarks
  • Links from Skype, Outlook or other desktop software or apps
  • Links from PDF, ODF, XLSX, DocX or other similar files.
  • Links from mobile apps

There are more examples so direct traffic is not the only explanation.

  1. Referral traffic comes from sources outside of Google’s search engine.
  2. Organic traffic comes from Google’s search result’s page and doesn’t include paid ads.

User source – It shows from which sources your users come. For example, it may include direct traffic, organic traffic, traffic from different social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc) or from the websites that link to you.


User source/medium – It is used to understand from which sources referral users come. It doesn’t show anything on direct traffic or organic traffic.

All the remained sections are: 

  • User campaign 
  • User Google Ads ad network type 
  • User campaign creative ID 
  • User Google Ads ad group name 
  • User Google Ads ad group ID 

These show from which campaign the user was first acquired and, no matter the last interacted channel, all the revenue generated will be assigned to the very first channel. 

Note: The number of New Users isn’t always accurate because Google Analytics counts the same user who visited your website from different devices, from Incognito browsing or different browsers as a new user.



There are two types of sessions:

  • Time-based
  • ​Campaign-based

Time-based sessions are considered expired after 30 minutes of inactivity or at midnight. If during 30 minutes a user interacts with your websites, Analytics adds another 30 minutes and so on. 

In the case of campaign-based sessions Analytics ends the current session and opens a new one when a user changes the campaign source.

Google Analytics 4 Engagement Overview

This section allows you to understand the pages people mostly view on your website and includes some important metrics that are covered below:

Average engagement time – shows the average time that visitors spend on your website and engage with your content. Longer engagement time means that they find your website valuable.
Engaged sessions per user – is the engagement measurement unit for an average user – the number of engaged sessions divided by the number of users.
Average engagement time per session – shows the average time that the visitors spend on your website during one session. 


Views – how many times an app or a web page was viewed ( including the repeated views of the same web page or app).  
Event count – the number of events (set by default or you can add customized events) triggered by visits.
Event count by Event name –  it’s obvious that this metric counts events amount based on the event name. 


Views by page title and screen class – shows the number of the web pages and app screens your users saw for a given time period.
User activity over time – this metric shows the number of active users of your website for 1 day, 7 days and 30 days.


User stickiness – indicates the ratio of users over 30 days that are active on a predefined time period. It includes:

  • Daily active users(DAU) and Monthly active users(MAU) ratio
  • Daily active users(DAU) and Weekly active users (WAU) ratio
  • Weekly active users (WAU) and Monthly active users(MAU) ratio

The high percentage shows that users like your app and engage with it on an everyday basis.


Google Analytics 4 Monetization Overview

This is a new term that was implemented for e-commerce reporting.
It includes:

Total revenue – shows your e-commerce’s revenue from purchases, ads and subscriptions.
E-Commerce revenue – shows the revenue from purchases, including taxes and shipping.
Total ad revenue – shows the amount of revenue formed through ads.


Total purchases and first-time purchases – shows the number of users who made a purchase (for a given time period) and the number of users who finished their first-time purchase.

As there is a lot of information to digest and I don’t want you to lose focus or get bored, let’s not spend time on explaining other Monetization metrics and events as it’s obvious from their names what they show:

  • Average purchase revenue per user
  • Ecommerce purchases by Item name
  • Ecommerce purchases by Item list name
  • Item views by Item promotion name
  • Ecommerce revenue by Order coupon
  • Product revenue by Product ID
  • Publisher ad impressions by Ad unit

Google Analytics 4 Retention Overview

This report shows how often people return back to your website. This section is quite important for understanding your website’s performance and its value for the users. 

But before we get acquainted with the metrics, let’s understand what the term “cohort” means. A cohort represents a group of people or things and events that share the same statistical factors ( like age, gender, time periods, etc). Cohorts allow you to sort the traffic of your website. 

Now we can move to the important metrics of Retention report:

New users – shows the number of the first time visitors.
Returning users – the number of the users that had interacted with your website or app before.

User retention by cohort –  shows the percentage of the new users’ cohort on a predefined date who return to your website each day.

User engagement by cohort – shows an average engagement time of the new users on a predefined date who return to your website each day.
User retention 
– shows a percentage of the new users who return to your website each day.

Google Analytics 4 Demographics Overview

This section allows you to better understand your audience and build your next marketing campaign based on real-life data and analysis. It shows details about your users’  location, gender, interests, language and age:

  • users’ age range
  • users’ location city
  • users’ location country
  • users’ gender
  • users’ interests during shopping funnel
  • users’ device language 
  • users’ geographic region

Google Analytics 4 Tech Overview

This report shows data based on users’ tracking methods. Use the “Web” report if you are collecting data from your website and view details about your users’ devices and browsers. The main metrics that you can analyze are:

  • Users by platform
  • Users by operating system
  • Users by platform / device category
  • Users by browser
  • Users by device category
  • Users by screen resolution
  • Users by app version
  • Latest app release overview
  • App stability overview
  • Users by device model

Google Analytics 4 Analysis Overview


Analysis hub allows you to create a new analysis or choose the one that you need from the template gallery. It also stores all of your previous custom analyses for quick access.

​The template gallery includes:

Blank template –  allows you to choose the metrics for your report by dragging the metrics from the variables to the Tab Settings table. 
Exploration –  allows you to create reports using charts and graphs, compare multiple metrics, use and create segments and filters.
Funnel analysis –  allows you to understand the users’ journey on your website and visualize each step (like how they become buyers and then repeated buyers). You can create open or closed funnels.  
Path analysis –  represents a tree graph and lets you understand how people move through your website.
Segment overlap –  based on users, events and sessions you can create up to three segments to see how they relate and find overlaps. 
User explorer –  allows you to understand your visitors’ individual behavior and personalize user experience. 
Cohort analysis – lets you group visitors based on related characteristics and common attributes.
User lifetime – reports a user’s lifetime metrics and shows how users interacted with your app or website as a customer during their lifetime. 

Google Analytics 4 Configuration

Google Analytics 4 Configure section includes:

Audiences – if you want to focus your efforts on a specific section of users, create custom audiences. You can include users or exclude them, set time spans, and more.
User properties – allows you to create customized dimensions and collect information about your audience’s separate groups or members. 
DebugView – allows debugging  Android or iOS apps by viewing event data streams.


As you can see, there are some fundamental changes in GA 4. I created this guide to help you to get familiar with GA 4 but it doesn’t provide in-depth knowledge on some important sections, like events or analysis. I’ll cover more in my upcoming posts. Stay tuned and wait for more updates.



Narine Nazaryan is a digital marketing specialist with more than 5 years experience in the field and more than 10 years experience in the banking and finances spheres. She is an obsessed reader and content writer. Her hobbies include coding, astronomy, physics and following the latest scientific discoveries. As it is obvious from this short bio, she doesn’t like bragging at all and is a very modest and pleasant person.

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