How To Navigate Google Analytics 4

How To Navigate Google Analytics 4


arnold on Apr 28, 2024

This article will guide you through the basics of navigating Google Analytics 4. I will highlight the main parts of the GA4 interface and then end the article showing where the find your conversion data in the user acquisition section.

How To Navigate Google Analytics 4

The screenshot below shows the main navigation of GA4. The main navigation comprises four key sections: Home, Reports, Explore, and Advertising.

GA4 Sidebar

1. Home

The “Home” section of Google Analytics 4 serves as your central hub, providing a snapshot of your website or app’s performance at a glance. Here, you’ll find key metrics displayed in customizable cards, offering insights into user engagement, acquisition channels, and conversion rates.

Key Features:

  • Overview Cards: Highlighting metrics like active users, conversion rate, and top acquisition channels, these cards offer a quick overview of your digital presence.
  • Trends: Visualize trends in user behavior and performance metrics over time, enabling you to spot patterns and identify areas for improvement.
  • Customization: Tailor the Home dashboard to your specific needs by adding or removing cards and adjusting date ranges to focus on relevant data.

2. Reports

The “Reports” section is where you’ll delve deeper into the analytics of your website or app. It offers a comprehensive array of reports, each providing insights into different aspects of user behavior, audience demographics, acquisition channels, and more.

Key Features:

  • Exploration: Navigate through a variety of pre-built reports covering user engagement, acquisition, retention, and conversion.
  • Audience Insights: Understand your audience better with detailed demographic and behavioral data, including age, gender, interests, and geographic location.
  • Conversion Tracking: Track the performance of conversion events and goals, identifying the pathways users take to complete desired actions.

3. Explore

The “Explore” section empowers you to delve even deeper into your data, enabling ad-hoc analysis and exploration. It provides a flexible and interactive interface for creating custom reports, visualizations, and segments tailored to your specific questions and objectives.

Key Features:

  • Ad-Hoc Analysis: Build custom reports and visualizations using a drag-and-drop interface, allowing you to explore your data in real-time.
  • Segmentation: Slice and dice your data by creating custom segments based on user attributes, behaviors, or interactions, uncovering hidden insights and trends.
  • Visualization Options: Choose from a variety of visualization types, including bar charts, line graphs, pie charts, and heatmaps, to present your findings effectively.

4. Advertising

The “Advertising” section is dedicated to tracking the performance of your advertising campaigns across various platforms, including Google Ads. It provides insights into ad spend, impressions, clicks, and conversion metrics, helping you optimize your advertising efforts for maximum ROI. For data to show here you need to link you advertising platform to Google Analytics.

Key Features:

  • Campaign Performance: Monitor the performance of your advertising campaigns in real-time, tracking key metrics such as impressions, clicks, click-through rate (CTR), and conversion rate.
  • Attribution Modeling: Analyze the effectiveness of different attribution models in assigning credit to advertising channels and touchpoints along the user journey.
  • Integration: Seamlessly integrate with advertising platforms like Google Ads and Facebook Ads, allowing for centralized tracking and reporting of campaign performance.

How To Navigate The REPORTS Section Of Google Analytics 4

In the Reports section of Google Analytics 4 (GA4), “Reports Snapshot” and “Realtime” offer distinct perspectives on your website or app’s performance:

1. Reports Snapshot: The Reports Snapshot provides a comprehensive overview of key metrics and insights across various aspects of your digital presence. It offers pre-built reports covering essential areas such as user engagement, acquisition channels, retention rates, and conversion tracking. These reports offer a snapshot of your website or app’s performance over a specified time period, allowing you to quickly assess trends, identify patterns, and measure the effectiveness of your digital strategies. With intuitive visualizations and customizable date ranges, the Reports Snapshot empowers users to gain actionable insights into their audience, content, and marketing efforts.

Reports Snapshot

2. Realtime: The Realtime report provides a dynamic view of user activity on your website or app in real-time. It displays metrics such as active users, pageviews, events, and conversions as they occur, giving you instant visibility into current user behavior and interaction patterns. Whether you’re launching a new campaign, monitoring the impact of a promotion, or tracking the performance of a live event, the Realtime report enables you to gauge audience engagement and responsiveness in the moment. This real-time feedback allows for agile decision-making and the ability to optimize strategies on the fly, ensuring that you stay responsive to evolving user needs and market dynamics.

What Are The Life Cycle And User in GA4 Reports?

The next part of Google Analytics that we will look at are the Life Cycle Reports and the User Reports.

Life cycle and user


User: The User report in GA4 focuses on providing insights into the characteristics and behaviors of your website or app’s audience. It includes demographic information, such as age, gender, location, and interests, allowing you to understand who your users are and tailor your content and marketing efforts accordingly.

Additionally, the User report provides behavioral data, such as user engagement metrics, acquisition channels, and device usage, helping you gain a deeper understanding of how different user segments interact with your digital property.

By analyzing the User report, you can identify key audience segments, uncover trends and patterns in user behavior, and refine your targeting and personalization strategies to better meet the needs and preferences of your audience. You can define audiences similar to how you define events and key events. The audience set up is in the admin section near the events.  In the screenshot below you can see a custom audience I created called Multi-Page Visitors. This is a visitor that views more than one page on the website.

Audiences in GA4


Life Cycle: The Life Cycle report in GA4 offers a comprehensive view of user engagement across various stages of their interaction with your digital property. It typically encompasses four key stages:

Life Cycle 2

  • Acquisition: This stage represents the initial interaction between users and your website or app. It includes metrics related to how users discover and access your digital property, such as traffic sources, referral sources, and campaign performance.
  • Engagement: The engagement stage focuses on how users interact with your content and features after their initial acquisition. It includes metrics such as session duration, pageviews, and interactions with specific elements or events on your website or app.
  • Monetization: For websites or apps with revenue-generating capabilities, the monetization stage tracks user transactions, purchases, subscription sign-ups, and other monetary interactions. It provides insights into the effectiveness of your monetization strategies and revenue streams.
  • Retention: Retention refers to the ability to keep users engaged and returning to your website or app over time. This stage includes metrics such as user retention rate, frequency of visits, and cohort analysis to understand long-term user behavior and loyalty.


The Life Cycle report enables you to analyze user behavior holistically, identifying strengths and weaknesses at each stage of the user journey and optimizing your strategies to enhance user experience and drive conversions.

Overall, both the Life Cycle and User reports in GA4 play crucial roles in understanding user behavior, optimizing user experience, and driving business growth in the digital landscape.

How To Use The Acquisition Section of GA4:

In the Acquisition section of Google Analytics 4 (GA4), you’ll find several key reports that provide insights into how users discover and access your website or app:

Life Cycle

1. Overview: The Overview report in the Acquisition section offers a high-level summary of your website or app’s acquisition performance. It provides an overview of key metrics related to user acquisition, including the total number of sessions, new users, and sessions by traffic source. This report helps you quickly assess the effectiveness of your acquisition channels and campaigns in driving traffic to your digital property.

2. User Acquisition: The User Acquisition report focuses on how users are acquired and onboarded to your website or app. It provides insights into the various channels and sources through which users first interact with your digital property, such as organic search, paid search, direct traffic, referral traffic, social media, and email marketing. By analyzing user acquisition data, you can understand which channels are driving the most valuable traffic and optimize your acquisition strategies accordingly.

3. Traffic Acquisition: The Traffic Acquisition report delves deeper into the sources of traffic to your website or app. It categorizes traffic sources based on channels (e.g., organic search, direct, referral, social) and provides detailed metrics for each channel, such as the number of sessions, bounce rate, and average session duration. This report helps you identify which traffic sources are driving the most engagement and conversions, allowing you to allocate resources effectively and optimize your marketing efforts.

4. User Acquisition Cohorts: User Acquisition Cohorts offer insights into the behavior and retention of users acquired during specific time periods or through specific channels. Cohorts are groups of users who share a common characteristic, such as the date they first visited your website or app or the acquisition channel through which they were acquired. By analyzing user behavior and retention within cohorts, you can understand how different acquisition strategies and channels impact user engagement and long-term retention. This information enables you to refine your acquisition tactics and improve the overall effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

These 4 sections are all pretty similar, especially the user acquisition and traffic acquisition. To understand the difference between the two, user acquisition looks at how users are acquired and what they do after arriving, while traffic acquisition simply tracks where users come from.

User Acquisition

The section of GA4 that I use the most would be the user acquisition. Here we can find out how people are finding our property.  You can break it down by specific source or by a medium. You can pair this data with any of your conversions  (key events) that you have configured to see what traffic sources visitors are coming from that are leading to conversions on your website.

In the screenshot below you can see that there were 125 users that came to my website organically.  Of those 125 users, 6 ended up visiting my contact page which is the conversion I have listed in the screenshot.  We can change our source / medium and pick which conversion we want to see the data for.


Source medium on the acquisition page

If I wanted to further break down how people are finding the website I could switch it to the source (along with the medium) and this is what the data looks like:


Source medium on the acquisition page 2

Insights from Source and Medium Reports:

  1. Performance by Traffic Source: By analyzing the Source report, you can identify which websites, search engines, or campaigns are driving the most traffic to your digital property. This insight helps you understand where your audience is coming from and which channels are most effective in attracting users.
  2. Effectiveness of Marketing Channels: The Medium report allows you to assess the performance of different traffic channels, such as organic search, paid search, social media, or referrals. You can compare the volume and quality of traffic from each channel and allocate resources accordingly to optimize your marketing strategies.
  3. Conversion Attribution: By correlating traffic sources and mediums with conversion events, you can determine which channels are driving the most conversions and generating the highest return on investment (ROI). This insight helps you prioritize your marketing efforts and allocate budget to the most effective channels.
  4. User Behavior Analysis: Understanding the journey that users take from their initial acquisition to conversion allows you to identify patterns and trends in user behavior. For example, you may discover that users who come from organic search tend to have higher conversion rates than those from social media, leading you to focus more on SEO efforts.
  5. Campaign Optimization: The Source and Medium reports provide valuable feedback for optimizing marketing campaigns and improving targeting. By analyzing the performance of specific campaigns or ad groups, you can refine your messaging, adjust bidding strategies, and optimize ad creatives to attract more qualified traffic and drive conversions.

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