With the ever-changing digital world, advanced analytics tools are increasingly necessary. Google Analytics 4 (GA4) has become a popular choice for digital marketers looking to GA4 for extensive insights into user behavior on websites and mobile apps.
In our recent webinar, we spoke with Andy Crestodina, Co-Founder at Orbit Media Studios, who comes to us with over two decades of expertise in digital analysis. Andy highlighted the benefits of GA4, offering practical advice for auditing content to optimize SEO and lead generation efforts.
From Universal Analytics to GA4: Emphasizing Interactions
Historically with UA, many marketers looked at the data provided in their tools. If the lines went up they smiled and when they went down, they frowned. Unfortunately, this isn’t analysis but rather reporting.
Reporting is great, but the goal is to use data to inform decisions and drive action. GA4 focuses on interactions between users, content, and platforms. This helps businesses understand how their websites are being used so they can adjust their strategies accordingly.
Your GA4 reports and data will be different from your CRM systems. With GDPR, implied consent is no longer an automatic assumption so you need to get explicit consent from visitors to collect data.
The Power of Event Setup and Conversion Creation in GA4
In GA4, interactions on a webpage are tracked as events — from page views to file downloads. These events, often viewed as “successes” or conversions, serve as performance measures. Defining what constitutes a successful interaction specific to your site or goals is important.
Remember that you should only track conversions when a visitor’s status changes — say, from a visitor to a lead or a subscriber.
Custom Reporting in GA4: The Key to Detailed Insights
In UA, Google offered 100 pre-built reports, but in GA4, each report must be built manually. Fortunately, building reports is a straightforward process, and users can easily replicate a legacy UA report if they wish.
GA4 reports offer the advantage of delving even deeper into the data, providing you with more flexibility and detailed insights.
One starting point is adjusting the reporting period itself. By default, views show two months of data. By adjusting the interval, you can expand the range to provide over a year’s worth of data.
Tracking information in GA4 is a simple matter of selecting the appropriate event for the report. With the right event in place, you can gain insights into user behavior and use them to inform future optimization strategies.
Identifying Top Performers: The Path to Better Results
Andy also highlighted that, with UA, everything was bundled into a single social bucket, but GA4 lets you drill down by channel so that you can easily find the best-performing platform to better target your efforts.
The goal is to turn your data analysis into actionable insights, leading to better decision-making and results.
Using Engagement Rate Over Bounce Rate
Engagement rate is a more reliable metric than bounce rate for understanding visitor engagement. Bounce rate measures a one-page visit, which doesn’t necessarily reflect an engaged visitor.
For example, a visitor spending a significant amount of time on a website, sharing links, and recommending it to others could still be classified as a bounce if they only view one page.
The engagement rate is different, as it takes into account a variety of factors, offering a more comprehensive view of how visitors interact with your content.
Using Data to Inform Decisions
With GA4, you can filter by metrics such as session conversion rate, engagement rate, and average engagement time, among others.
By using this data, you can pinpoint which traffic sources are performing at a high level while reducing efforts on low-performing sources. This helps you differentiate between “unicorns” and “donkeys” and will let you allocate resources more effectively.
A good piece of advice that Andy shared is to think about using GA4 more organically in your workflow.
For instance, you could start with a simple question: “What content is attracting visitors from search?” By leveraging GA4’s capabilities, you can generate reports that precisely identify the content receiving the most organic traffic. Once identified, you can focus on creating more of this successful content, resulting in numerous little “unicorns” that will further boost and expand your traffic.
Enhanced Email and Social Media Campaign Tracking
By using UTM parameters, you can link metrics from the email service provider (ESP) with Google Analytics data. This same approach can also be used to analyze the effectiveness of your social media campaigns, helping you to fine-tune your strategies based on the social networks that attract the most engaged visitors and conversions.
How Google Search Console Enhances GA4
Google Search Console (GSC) complements GA4 by offering valuable insights on your content’s performance in search results, showing which pages attract clicks and impressions from organic searches, and enabling you to detect and resolve technical issues affecting your web pages.
Combining these two tools gives you a comprehensive view of your content performance. For instance, using GSC for content auditing and optimization can help you gain deeper insights into your website and identify elements that require improvement.
It’s not just about charting data but instead using this information to make better decisions and ultimately guide your SEO and lead generation strategies.
Comparisons and Filters: Taking the Next Step
In addition to data-driven insights, GA4 allows you to compare two different datasets side by side.
Andy emphasized how this is extremely beneficial for content optimization because it helps to assess performance over time or across regions. This, in turn, makes it easier to identify trends and areas for improvement in your quarterly and yearly content performances.
Another great way to use GA4 is by filtering data. This helps you narrow down the metrics and dimensions for a more focused assessment. For instance, you can use filtering to easily identify underperforming content on mobile devices compared to better-performing content.
Content Improvement through Data
Content optimization in GA4 is all about understanding the behavior of your visitors and selecting the strategy that works best. Think about it in the context of “cheese and mousetraps”. If you know the type and flavor of cheese your audience is interested in, you can build a better mousetrap that will attract them and keep them around longer.
With the data available in GA4, you can take a targeted approach to SEO. You’ll know which content is driving organic traffic, what topics are resonating with your audience most, and even how visitors are engaging with your content across different devices.
The learning curve with GA4 can be steep, but the payoff is substantial, with just a few clicks leading you to the insights you need.
Watch our webinar for the full lowdown on how Andy Crestodina leverages his 20 years of experience to get the most out of GA4.