Top 10 Metrics to Track In Google Analytics 4

February 28, 2023// Category: Digital Marketing // Author: Omari Valentine

Google Analytics 4 is a very powerful tool but it changes in several important ways from Google’s old analytics tool, Universal Analytics. Now that Universal Analytics is going away, it’s time to start moving the old metrics you’ve been tracking to the new look metrics of GA4.

If you’re curious about what makes GA4 so different from previous versions, how you can use it for your business, or what you need to start tracking to get the most out of this superpowered V12 engine, then read on!

What is Google Analytics

Simply put, Google Analytics is a web analytics tool. It gives you all the information you need about your website’s performance, such as how many people visit it, where they come from, and what they do when they’re there.

This information can help you to make decisions about how to improve your website or even whether or not it’s worth investing in marketing for it at all (if it doesn’t seem like anyone wants to use it).

The Backstory

Google Analytics was developed by Urchin Software Corporation, which Google acquired in 2005. The first version of Google Analytics was released in 2005 and was called Classic Google Analytics. A year later, Universal Analytics was released with additional features such as enhanced e-commerce tracking and mobile app tracking support. In 2012, they introduced Enhanced Ecommerce Reporting and Multi-Channel Funnels (MCF) reports which made it easier for marketers to analyze their data from various channels such as paid ads or organic search results.

In 2020 they released 4th generation GA that included features like real-time reporting & dashboards; automated insights for mobile apps; support for multiple languages; new user interface (UI) design; customizations via APIs etc.,

Why is Google Analytics 4 replacing Universal Analytics?

Because Google wants to give users more flexibility and power over their data.

There has been a long-standing push to give users control of their own data, due to regulatory bodies, websites and indeed browsers need to be transparent about which information is being collected. As a result, Chrome will soon be sunsetting third-party cookies, and Analytics needs to be able to feed you important information without relying on them.

Google Analytics 4 offers some key features that weren’t available before: it can collect data from multiple sources (like websites or mobile apps), it allows you to customize reports according to your needs rather than having one standard view, and it allows developers with limited technical knowledge to implement tracking code without needing extensive training on how each piece works together

What Are The Benefits of Google Analytics 4?

Google Analytics is a free tool that helps you understand your visitors and customers. The general benefits you see from tracking your website data include:

  • Improvements to your customers’ website experience
  • Increased revenue for your business
  • Reduced advertising costs
  • Improved customer satisfaction, retention, and loyalty by providing insights into how people are using your website or app–and then use this knowledge to improve your site or app based on what’s working (or not).

But if you’re already a user of UA, you probably already knew that. So, what about the unique benefits of GA4 over and above Universal Analytics?

  • More comprehensive data controls
  • Better Google Ads integration
  • Smart insights improvements
  • Cross-device tracking
  • Customer-related data
  • New metrics

Tools you can use with Google Analytics 4

In addition to the main Google Analytics 4 application, there are several tools you can use to get even more out of your data. These include:

  • Google Tag Manager – A tool that allows users to create and manage tags on their website.
  • Data Studio – Enables users to create interactive reports that display data from multiple sources in one place.
  • BigQuery – A cloud-based analytics service for querying large datasets (Big Data) in real time without having them stored locally on your computer or server; used primarily by data analysts who need access at scale but don’t want to manage infrastructure themselves.
  • Firebase – An app development platform created by Google that allows developers build mobile apps without needing any backend code or servers; used primarily by software engineers who want their product ready immediately after launch so they can focus on marketing instead of development

But the meat of the question you are probably asking is:

What are the 10 metrics I should be tracking for my small business?

So without further ado, here’s our list:

1. Engagement Rate

The engagement rate is measured by engaged sessions over all sessions. This metric replaces Bounce Rate as an indicator of the rate as the simplest measure of your site’s engagement.

An engaged session is simply any session with an engagement, and an engagement is any session where there is at least a conversion, two page views, or a duration of 10 seconds. That last item is the difference from bounce, which did not include a time element.

This can be a useful way to filter out any undesired traffic that could be dragging down your engagement rate.

engagement rate metric in google analytics

2. Traffic Acquisition

This hasn’t really changed much. It is a simple view that allows you to compare the behavior of a variety of traffic mediums. Traffic Acquisition can be found under the Acquisition report.

traffic acquisition metric in google analytics

3. Session Conversion Rate / User Conversion Rate

Event tracking is where GA4 really begins to shine. Where basic UA was useful at helping you understand when pages were viewed, it required a lot of help to give you an understanding of what people were doing on your pages besides that. The second you activate GA4, your website becomes an event-tracking machine, and you’ll see a wide variety of activity on your site pages, such as first visits, scrolls, clicks, and form submissions. You can of course add a lot more, like advanced E-commerce tracking, with Google Tag Manager, but mechanism is in place to give you a lot more information about what is happening on the page.

When you turn an event into a conversion, you can track how your sessions and users are converting. You can see these metrics under Traffic Acquisition as well.

Here’s how you can add these metrics:

1. Go to Reports > Acquisition > Traffic Acquisition
2. Maximize the view
3. Click the pencil
4. Click Metrics
5. Click Add Metric
6. Select “Session Conversion Rate” and “User
Conversion Rate”
7. Click “Apply”

adding session conversion rate to reports in the google analytics 4 sidebar

4. Average Engagement Time

If you track Average Session Duration in UA, then this is what you’ll want to look for in GA4. It basically tells you how long your sessions are.  The benefit of Average Engagement Time over Average Session Duration is that the former ignores meaningless hits on your site so you can see a more accurate reading of real live humans.

average engagement time in google analytics

5. Views Per Session / Views Per User

This is an analog for the Pages Per Session metric in UA. Like Session Conversion Rate, it must be customized into your report by adding the metric in the right sidebar.

GA4 now adds the Views Per User metric, so you can see how users over time interact with your website. This can be a much more useful metric when tracking the entire customer journey.

views per session in google analytics

6. Demographics

Towards the bottom of Reports, Demographics is basically the User Location metric from UA. This can often be a good method to debug rogue traffic spikes, as they tend to come from IPs in a similar location range.

google analytics 4 demographics report

7. Returning Users

Returning Users is still a good measure of your user retention. Now you can also see the user retention by cohort, which tells you how long it takes for your visitors to return to your site. This report can be found in the Life Cycle Overview.

returning users report in google analytics 4

8. Queries / Google Organic Search Traffic

The Search Console reporting is extremely valuable for anyone looking to reap the benefits of organic SEO. You pull the GSC search query data right into your analytics report to see how users who made certain queries interacted with your pages, and even whether they converted. Armed with this information, you can decide to prioritize some keywords over others.

To link your Search property, follow these steps:

1. Go to Admin
2. Go to Property > Product Links
3. Go to Search Console Links
4. Search for your property in the search bar
5. Link your property

After linking your property, you still need to publish the report. To do that, follow these steps:

1. Go to Reports > Library
2. Find Google Search
Console in Collections
3. Publish the collection
4. Look for the new report under Reports

search collections in google analytics 4

Once published, you can now see the Search Console reports beneath Life Cycle.

Search Queries gives you a view of the queries and all of the data related to those queries that you’ll need. Average Engagement Time, Views Per Session, etc. Google Organic Search Traffic breaks this down by landing page, so if you want to see the page that gets the most impressions or has the highest conversion rate on search, that’s the report for you.

9. Top Landing Pages

This is the Google Organic Search Traffic report, but for all channel groupings. It’s really useful to see an overview of which landing pages are performing best, particularly if you are driving traffic, e.g. through a paid media campaign.

10. Exit Pages

Again, this can be a really nice way to close the loop on your traffic and see where your users are concluding their interactions on your site. If users are leaving in unexpected places at higher rates, it could be useful to see if something in your content is causing the defection.


How to set up GA4

If you already have Universal Analytics, follow these steps to set up the new version:

  • Open the Admin console and click Property Settings.
  • Select “Tracking Info” from the left-hand menu and then click “Create a New Property” at the top of the page
  • Fill out the relevant Property and Business information
  • Click “Create”
  • Copy your tracking code (It starts with and paste it into your page’s Google Analytics settings (it’s best if you use Google Tag Manager)

Google Analytics v4 is a new version of Google’s tracking code that you can use to track website usage on your websites. It works in all browsers and can be implemented using the Universal Analytics API or as a JavaScript tag.

Start Measuring!

That’s it! You now know everything you need to get going with Google Analytics 4. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below and we’ll do our best to help out!

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