In October 2020, Google launched a new version of Google Analytics: Google Analytics 4 (GA4). Learn how to set up GA4 perfectly for your website and benefit from its many ingenious reports here in the ultimate Google Analytics 4 Guide.

Introduction to Google Analytics 4

Google Analytics, originally known as “Urchin”, was acquired by Google in 2005. Urchin was a pioneer in web analytics and set standards for the industry.

After the takeover by Google, the product was further developed and expanded to meet the growing demands of the digital world.

Over the years, Google Analytics has become an indispensable tool for webmasters, marketers and companies who want to gain insights into the behavior of their website visitors.

Why Google Analytics 4?

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) represents a complete redesign of classic Google Analytics. It was developed to meet the changing requirements of digital marketing, particularly with regard to cross-device tracking, machine learning and data protection.

GA4 is not just an evolution, but a complete reinvention aimed at providing users with a deeper and clearer understanding of their data.

Main differences between GA4 and Universal Analytics

  • Data model

    Universal Analytics is based on a session-based data model that focuses on page views and sessions. GA4, on the other hand, uses an event-based model that enables a more granular and flexible recording of user actions.

  • User centricity

    GA4 offers improved user-centricity, making it possible to track the entire lifecycle of a user from acquisition to conversion and retention.

  • Machine learning and automation

    GA4 uses machine learning to generate automatic insights, detect anomalies and make predictions that were not available in Universal Analytics.

  • Data protection and adaptability

    At a time when data protection is becoming increasingly important, GA4 offers advanced data protection features and customization options to comply with regional data protection laws.

    GA4 offers advanced data retention options, giving companies more control over how long their data is stored.

  • Reporting structure

    While Universal Analytics has a fixed report structure, GA4 allows customization of reports so that users can see exactly the data that is relevant to them.

  • Integration and connection

    GA4 is better integrated into Google’s ecosystem, including tighter connections to Google Ads, Google BigQuery and other platforms.

The structure of GA4: account, property, data stream

GA4 presents a hierarchical structure that is divided into three main components.


The account is the highest organizational level in GA4. It usually represents a company or an organization.

You can manage user authorizations within an account so that different team members can have different levels of access.


You can have several properties under one account.

Each property could represent a separate website, mobile app or other digital platform.

It is important to note that in GA4, data from different sources (e.g. web and app) can be combined in the same property, providing a comprehensive view of user interactions across different platforms.

Data stream

Within a property, there are data streams that represent specific data sources.

A data stream could, for example, be a specific website, a mobile app version or another digital platform.

Each data stream has its own unique ID, which is used for integration into websites or apps.

First steps: Setting up a GA4 account

Setting up a GA4 account is intuitive and user-friendly.

  • Registration:

    Go to the Google Analytics website and log in with your Google account.

  • Account creation

    Click on “Create account”, enter the required information and accept the terms of use.

  • Add property

    After creating an account, you can add a new property directly. Define whether it is a website, an app or both.

  • Tracking code

    Once the property is created, you will receive a tracking code or configuration guide that you need to integrate into your website or app.

Important terms: events, parameters, metrics and dimensions

  • Events: In GA4, events are central data points. They represent specific actions or interactions performed by users on your website or app.
  • Parameters: Each event can contain additional information in the form of parameters. These provide context and details about a particular event. For example, a purchase event could contain parameters such as product name, price and quantity.
  • Metrics: Metrics are quantitative measurements. They provide specific figures, such as the number of visitors, the average session duration or the total number of sales.
  • Dimensions: Dimensions are qualitative data. You categorize and describe your metrics. Examples of dimensions are location, device type or traffic source.

The GA4 homepage

When you log in to Google Analytics, you will notice that the homepage is your central dashboard. From here, you can navigate seamlessly to any area: Be it directly to the detailed reports or to the administration interface.

The home screen

GA4 Startseite

The home screen not only serves as a visual display, but also as your central point of contact for all analysis questions. It was designed to provide you with a comprehensive overview of your website’s performance:

  • User statistics: Here you can see how many users have visited your website.
  • Origin of users: This area provides information about the sources from which your visitors come, whether through organic search, paid advertising or other channels.
  • Effectiveness of campaigns: Here you can find out which of your marketing campaigns have generated the highest conversion rate or the most traffic.
  • Engagement statistics: Find out which pages of your website are accessed most frequently and where the most interaction takes place.
  • Monetization: This area shows which of your target groups generate the highest turnover and which e-commerce activities are the most profitable.
  • User retention: This gives you insights into how often users return and how strong their loyalty to your website or product is.

For a more in-depth analysis, each overview map provides a link to the corresponding detailed report. This enables a targeted and in-depth analysis in order to obtain precise answers to your questions.

Realtime / Real time

The real-time report in Google Analytics 4 has a special meaning. It shows what is happening on your website in real time. Every access, every action is displayed almost immediately so that you always know the current status

The main navigation in GA4

A striking feature of Google Analytics 4 is the redesigned navigation. It is both simplified and focused, but offers deep insights and a wide range of customization options if required.

The main menu is characterized by a clear structure.

GA4 Hauptnavi


Here you will find standardized overviews and analyses that give you a quick insight into the most important data of your website or app. This includes traffic sources, user behavior and many other relevant metrics.

Exploratory data analysis

You can create individual reports in this area. Depending on your specific questions and requirements, you have the option of combining, filtering and visualizing data.


This section provides detailed insights into the attribution of your marketing measures. You can see which advertising campaigns have generated the most traffic or the highest conversions and how your marketing investments are paying off.

The reports

The reporting and analysis functions in GA4 transform raw data into strategic insights.

By using these advanced tools, marketers and business owners can understand performance, improve the user experience and make strategic decisions based on in-depth, data-driven analysis.

Real-time reports in GA4

The real-time reports of Google Analytics 4 (GA4) offer exactly that: an immediate overview of what is currently happening on your website or app.

What makes the real-time reports so special?

  • Instant data update: While traditional analyses often have a certain time delay, real-time reports provide information that is literally up to date. This enables you to recognize current trends and activities immediately.
  • Interactive user activity: You can not only see how many users are currently online, but also which actions they are taking, e.g. which products they are adding to their shopping cart or which articles they are reading.
  • Geographical distribution: See in real time which regions or countries your visitors come from. This can be particularly useful if you are running targeted regional campaigns.

In-depth look at the main features of real-time reports:

  • Current visitor numbers: Monitor the fluctuations in user behavior. Recognize at which times your website is most frequented and plan your activities accordingly.
  • Pages viewed: This not only gives you an overview of the popularity of certain pages, but also how long users stay on these pages and how they interact.
  • Origin of traffic: This section is particularly valuable for evaluating the success of different marketing channels. For example, you can determine whether a recently published social media post is attracting visitors to your website.

The real-time reports are a powerful tool, especially for marketers and website operators who want to take the pulse of their digital presence and make immediate decisions. Whether you want to monitor the launch of a new product page, track traffic after a newsletter mailing or simply monitor daily traffic, GA4’s real-time reports give you the data you need in real time.

Life cycle reports

GA4 Berichte

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) has taken data analysis to a new level. One central feature that stands out in particular is the life cycle reports. But what makes them so special and how can they help you to better understand the customer journey?

What exactly are life cycle reports?

The lifecycle reports in GA4 provide a structured overview of a user’s entire journey – from the first touchpoint with your website or app to conversion and beyond. They reflect the different stages of user engagement and are divided into specific phases.

The phases of the life cycle


Traffic sources: Where do your users come from? Whether organically, through paid advertising or social media – here you can see the origin.

First interactions: What actions lead to a user interacting with your site for the first time?

New vs. returning users: An overview of how many of your visitors are on your site for the first time and how many are returning.



Page views: Which pages are visited most frequently?

Average session duration: How long do users spend on your site on average?

Interaction rate: How often do users interact with your site during a visit?


E-commerce activities: Which products are viewed or purchased most frequently?

Revenue generated: How much revenue does your website or app generate?

Conversion paths: Which paths do users take to convert?


Return rate: How often do users return after their first visit?

Retention intervals: At what intervals do users return?

The advantages of life cycle reports:

The detailed breakdown of user activity into different lifecycle phases gives you valuable insights into where there is potential for optimization. You may find that many users bounce after viewing a particular product or that your retention rate drops significantly after the first purchase. With this data, you can take targeted measures to improve the user experience and ultimately also your conversion rate.

The life cycle reports in GA4 are more than just a collection of data. They offer a structured and deep insight into the behavior of your users. By using these insights, you can not only optimize your website or app, but also refine your entire marketing strategy.

User reports

In the world of data analysis, understanding user behavior is of central importance. Google Analytics 4 (GA4) provides detailed insights into the activities and preferences of your website or app visitors with its user reports.

But what exactly can you learn from these reports and how can they help you optimize your digital strategy?

What are the user reports in GA4?

The user reports provide a comprehensive analysis of the people who visit your website or app. They provide information about who your users are, where they come from, which devices they use and how they interact with your content.

Main features of the user reports:

  1. Demographic data:
    • Age and gender: Find out more about the age and gender distribution of your users.
    • Interests: What topics and activities attract your users?
  2. Geographical data:
    • Location: Where are your users geographically located? This can help you to develop regional marketing strategies.
    • Language: What languages do your users speak?
  3. Technology:
    • Devices: Do your visitors use desktops, tablets or smartphones?
    • Operating systems and browsers: What technologies do your users use to access your content?
  4. Behavior:
    • New vs. returning users: How many of your visitors are first-time visitors and how many are returning?
    • Engagement: How long do users stay on your site and how intensively do they interact with your content?

Why are user reports so valuable?

A deep understanding of your user base enables you to develop personalized and targeted marketing strategies. You may find that a large proportion of your users come from a particular region – this could be an opportunity for targeted advertising campaigns or regional offers. Or you may realize that many of your users are using mobile devices, which underscores the need for a mobile-optimized website.

The user reports in GA4 are an indispensable tool for anyone who wants to gain a deeper understanding of their target group. They not only provide a snapshot of who your users are, but also valuable insights into how you can optimize your digital presence to better meet the needs of your users.

Analysis tools: Exploration report, segmentation, funnel analysis

  • Exploration Report: This powerful tool enables deep dives into your data, allowing you to identify trends, analyze patterns and examine detailed user data.
  • Segmentation: Identify key segments of your target audience by grouping users based on a variety of criteria such as behavior, demographics and conversions.
  • Funnel analysis: Understand the path users take through your website or app, identify bottlenecks and opportunities to optimize the user experience.

Creation and customization of user-defined reports

  • Customization: GA4 allows you to create reports tailored to your specific business goals and requirements by customizing metrics and dimensions as needed.
  • Dynamic interaction: You can filter, sort and analyze data in real time to gain dynamic insights and make informed decisions.

Data collection in Google Analytics 4

The ability to collect accurate and relevant data is the cornerstone of any analytics strategy. Google Analytics 4 (GA4) provides a range of advanced tools that enable precise data tracking and collection.

In this chapter, we will explore the basics and best practices of data tracking in GA4, as well as how to set up and use data streams and event tracking.

What is recorded?

  • User interactions: GA4 automatically captures a variety of user interactions, including page views, scrolling activity and clicks.
  • User data: Information about users, such as demographics, device information and location, is collected to create a detailed picture of the target audience.
  • Conversions: Certain user actions that are important to your business, such as purchases or registrations, are tracked as conversions.

Data streams: web, app, offline

  • Web: By adding a GA4 tracking code to your website, you can collect data such as user behavior, traffic sources and more.
  • App: GA4 allows you to track app data by connecting your app to Firebase, providing insights into app usage, user engagement and more.
  • Offline: GA4 also enables the collection of offline data by importing data from CRM systems or other offline sources to get a complete picture of customer interactions.

Event tracking: Automatic vs. user-defined events

  • Automatic events: GA4 automatically captures certain events such as page views, website search activity and video views without the need for additional code.
  • Custom events: You can track specific interactions by setting up custom events that are important to your business, such as adding products to the cart or completing a survey.

Google Tag Manager: advantages and setup

  • Benefits: Google Tag Manager makes it easy to add and update tags for tracking on your website or app without the need to change code. This enables faster implementation, troubleshooting and centralized management.
  • Setup: By creating an account in Google Tag Manager and integrating the container snippet into your website code, you can start using predefined or custom tags.

Audience building and segmentation in Google Analytics 4

In the digital marketing world, understanding and targeting your core target group is crucial to success.

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) offers advanced audience building and segmentation features that help marketers understand, segment and target their audiences more effectively.

Creation of target groups

  • Define and customize: GA4 allows you to define specific audiences based on a variety of criteria such as demographics, behavioral patterns, engagement levels and more. These target groups can then be used for targeted marketing campaigns.
  • Dynamic adaptation: Target groups in GA4 are not static; they can adapt dynamically based on the changing behavior and preferences of users. This ensures that your marketing efforts are always targeted at the most relevant users.

Application of segments to reports

  • Targeted analysis: By applying segments to your reports, you can gain deeper insights into different user groups. This enables a more detailed analysis and helps you to understand the effectiveness of your marketing strategies.
  • Comparative insights: You can compare the behavior and performance of different segments side-by-side to understand which strategies work best for which segments.
  • Example: Segmentation of reports for performance analysis

    Let’s say you have an ad campaign for two different age groups: 18-25 and 40-50. With GA4, you can create segments for these specific age groups and then analyze the performance of your ad campaign for each segment. This could help you understand which age group responds better to which type of advertising messages, which platform they prefer to use, and how much time they spend on your website after clicking on the ad.

Remarketing and lookalike audiences

  • Effective remarketing: GA4 allows you to retarget users who have already shown interest in your products or services. This increases the likelihood of conversions and strengthens customer loyalty.
  • Lookalike audiences: Expand your marketing reach by identifying new target groups that are similar to those already interacting with your brand. This helps to effectively increase awareness and the acquisition of new customers.
  • Example: Remarketing campaign for shopping cart abandoners

    For an online store, GA4 could help to create a retargeting campaign by identifying a target group of users who have added items to their shopping cart but have not completed the purchase.

    Through targeted advertising, which may include a discount code or free shipping promotion, you could try to win these users back and encourage them to complete the purchase.

Conversion tracking and attribution

The ability to accurately measure the success of marketing activities and understand which channels and touchpoints are most effective is critical to any marketing strategy.

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) offers advanced conversion tracking and attribution features that help marketers measure their campaign performance and optimize investment decisions. Here is a deeper insight into these functions:

Definition and setup of conversions

  • Goal setting: In GA4, you can define specific actions that are valuable to your business, such as purchase completions, form submissions or newsletter sign-ups, and set these up as conversion goals.
  • Custom conversions: Aside from standard conversions, GA4 also allows you to set up custom conversions based on specific interactions that are unique to your business.
  • Example:

    Suppose you run an online store for sportswear. An important conversion goal could be the completion of a purchase. In GA4, you could set up a conversion goal that is triggered every time a customer completes the purchase process (i.e. reaches the thank you page after purchase). This helps you to track how many visitors actually become paying customers and which marketing activities contribute to these conversions.

Attribution models

  • Model diversity: GA4 offers different attribution models, such as the last click model, first click model and linear models, to help you understand which touchpoints and channels contribute most to conversions.
  • Customizable models: You can also create your own attribution models that better suit your customer journey and provide a more accurate representation of each touchpoint’s performance.
  • Example:

    Imagine a marketing campaign that spans multiple channels: social media, paid advertising, email marketing and organic search traffic.

    With GA4, you can use various attribution models to evaluate which channel generates the most conversions.

    For example, the “last click” model might show that while paid advertising was the deciding factor, the “linear model” evaluates the contribution of each channel equally, giving you a more comprehensive picture of the customer journey.

Multi-touch attribution: advantages and use cases

  • Holistic understanding: Multi-touch attribution allows you to recognize the value of each touchpoint in the entire customer journey, rather than just the last click before conversion.
  • Spend optimization: By understanding how different touchpoints contribute to conversion, you can allocate your marketing budget more effectively and maximize the ROI of your campaigns.

Data protection and compliance in Google Analytics 4

The protection of user data is of the utmost importance for serious and successful companies. Companies need to ensure that they respect their customers’ privacy while gaining valuable insights for their business strategies.

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) offers several features that support compliance with data protection laws such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the ePrivacy Directive. Here are the key aspects to consider:

GA4 in the context of the GDPR and ePrivacy

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is an advanced tool that has been specially developed to meet the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the ePrivacy Directive in order to ensure responsible and legally compliant data processing.

  • Legal compliance: GA4 is designed to help organizations comply with GDPR and other data protection laws by providing strict data processing procedures and safeguards.
  • Data protection from the start: GA4 enables organizations to proactively manage data privacy regulations by providing flexible data collection and storage options that can be customized to meet an organization’s specific needs.

Anonymization of data

  • Identity protection: GA4 includes functions for anonymizing IP addresses and other geographical data in order to protect the identity of users.
  • Data minimization: By collecting only the most necessary data, GA4 minimizes the risk of data breaches and ensures that no unnecessary user information is stored.

Opt-out options for users

  • Respecting user preferences: GA4 provides mechanisms for users to opt out of data collection, giving organizations the ability to effectively manage opt-out preferences.
  • Simple opt-out processes: With clear and accessible opt-out options, GA4 allows users to retain control over their data and withdraw their consent at any time.

User data: collection, storage and deletion

  • Transparent data collection: GA4 enables companies to clearly define what data is collected and ensures that users are informed about their collected data and can give their consent.
  • Data retention: Organizations can set up custom data retention periods to ensure that user data is not kept longer than necessary.
  • Right to be forgotten: GA4 supports the deletion of user data, which is in line with users’ right to be forgotten as required by the GDPR.
  • Transparent data collection: GA4 enables companies to clearly define what data is collected and ensures that users are informed about their collected data and can give their consent.
  • Data retention: Organizations can set up custom data retention periods to ensure that user data is not kept longer than necessary.
  • Right to be forgotten: GA4 supports the deletion of user data, which is in line with users’ right to be forgotten as required by the GDPR.
  • Data Removal: This new feature is designed to minimize the risk of unintentional transmission of personally identifiable information (PII). In GA4, you can now set up your web data streams to perform client-side text editing for email addresses and custom URL query parameters. Email data removal is automatically activated by default for new web data streams.
  • Exclusion of Google signals from reports and explorations: GA4 now offers the ability to allow advertisers to exclude certain demographic and interest data from reports, specifically data from logged-in, consenting users. If you have activated Google Signals for your property, simply deactivate “Include Google Signals in the report identity” on the administrator’s “Data management” page.
  • Example:

    Imagine a medium-sized e-commerce company that wants to use Google Analytics 4. However, the management is aware of the strict regulations of the GDPR and ePrivacy and wants to ensure that customer data is protected and that the company acts in compliance with the law.

    1. Setting up GA4: The company implements Google Analytics 4 because it offers enhanced data protection functions. When setting up GA4, the team takes care to configure the settings so that only the necessary data is collected and activates IP anonymization to protect the identities of visitors.
    2. User consent: Before collecting data, the company ensures that all website visitors receive a clear and understandable notification explaining what data is being collected and why. Visitors also have the option of objecting to data collection or giving their consent, which is in accordance with the opt-in and opt-out rules of the GDPR and ePrivacy.
    3. Data processing agreements: To ensure compliance with the GDPR, the company enters into data processing agreements with all partners and third-party providers, including Google. These agreements ensure that all parties comply with the necessary data protection measures.
    4. Regular reviews and adjustments: The company carries out regular data protection impact assessments and reviews the settings in GA4 to ensure that they always comply with current legal requirements. In the event of changes to the law or GA4’s guidelines, the team makes appropriate adjustments.

    Through these measures, the company can not only gain valuable insights into user behavior and optimize its marketing strategies, but also strengthen customer trust by demonstrating that data protection and compliance are top priorities.

Tips and best practices for Google Analytics 4

Using Google Analytics 4 effectively is crucial to understanding and improving the performance of your website or app. Here are best practices to help you get the most out of GA4

Ensure data quality: Filters, exclusions, verifications

  • Set up filters: Use filters to exclude unwanted traffic (e.g. internal traffic or spam) from your reports so that your data reflects actual user activity.
  • Data verification: Regularly check the accuracy of your data, for example by checking the tag configurations and carrying out test transactions to ensure that everything is recorded correctly.

Effective use of dashboards and real-time reports

  • Personalized dashboards: Create custom dashboards that include the metrics and dimensions most important to you to get a quick overview of performance.
  • Use real-time data: Use real-time reports to react immediately to changes, e.g. during an ongoing marketing campaign or product launch.

Common mistakes in GA4 and how to avoid them

  • Incorrect tag implementation: Make sure your tags are implemented correctly to avoid data loss or incorrect data.
  • Excessive segmentation: Avoid overly detailed segmentation, which can make the data confusing and difficult to interpret.

Resources and training opportunities

  • Utilize training resources: Use online courses, webinars and tutorials from Google and other trusted sources to deepen your knowledge of GA4.
  • Community and forums: Engage with other GA4 users to gain new perspectives, find solutions to common problems and stay up to date on best practices.

How does the integration of GA4 with other Google products work?

GA4’s integration with other Google products is one of the main advantages of this tool. By linking with other Google tools, companies can make even better use of their data and make their marketing activities more effective.

If you already have Google Analytics 4 set up, you can integrate with other Google products such as Search Console, Ads, and Tag Manager. This allows you to import data from all these sources into GA4 to get a comprehensive picture of your website performance. In this article you will learn how GA4 integration works with other Google products.

First, you need to enable data collection in your GA4 account. To do this, navigate to the settings and click “Enable data collection”. On the next page, you can then set up integration with other Google products.

To integrate GA4 with Search Console, simply click on the “Search” option. On the next page, you will then enter your URL and click “Next”. GA4 will then automatically collect all searches for your website and display them in your account.

The Google Ads integration is a bit more complex. To do this, first click on the “Ads” option and then on “Link ad accounts”. Then enter your ad ID and click “Next”. GA4 will now import all data from Ads into your account.

Integration with Tag Manager is also relatively simple. To do this, first click on the “Tag Manager” option and then on “Link Container”. Then enter your Tag Manager ID and click Next. GA4 will now import all data from Tag Manager into your account.

After you have completed the integration with all Google products, you should periodically check that all data is imported correctly. If you notice any problems, you can contact Google support.

How do I use the data from GA4 to improve my business?

In Google Analytics 4, there are some new and improved features that you can use to learn more about your website visitors and improve your business.

Here are some of the most important things you should know about GA4:

1. GA4 uses machine learning to better understand your data

This means that GA4 is able to detect possible patterns in your data and thus learn more about your visitors. For example, GA4 can identify whether a certain type of visitor is more likely to click on a certain type of content or perform a certain action on your website. These insights can help you improve your website strategy and ensure you’re delivering the right content to the right visitors.

2. GA4 offers improved real-time reports

GA4 provides enhanced real-time reports that give you more information about your website visitors. For example, you can see how many visitors are on your website, where they are coming from, and which areas of your website they visit the most. This information can help you figure out what visitors are looking for on your site and how you can better help them.

3. GA4 offers advanced reporting features

GA4 offers advanced reporting features that allow you to dive even deeper into the data. For example, you can create custom segments to identify specific types of visitors and create personalized reports to show just the data you’re interested in. In addition, GA4 also allows you to run A/B tests to find out which changes to your website are most effective.

4. GA4 is integrable with other Google products

GA4 integrates with other Google products so you can get even more out of your data. For example, you can integrate GA4 with Google Ads to find out which ads are most effective. In addition, you can also integrate GA4 with Google BigQuery to get even deeper insights into your data.


Google Analytics 4 is a great tool to better understand the activities of your website visitors. Setup is relatively simple and the advanced features give you many options to customize and view your data. Overall, it’s a great addition to any website.

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