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Google Analytics 4 Tutorial for Beginners

Last Modified on May 2, 2024

Are you looking to kickstart your GA4 adventure?

In this Google Analytics 4 tutorial for beginners, you will learn what GA4 is and why it is essential for online businesses.

GA4 For Beginners

Master the basics with our FREE GA4 Course for Beginners

Working with GA4 is about having the ability to take action based on the data you have gathered.

By the end of our Google Analytics 4 tutorial for beginners, you will be proficient at GA4, even if you are new to this tool.

Here is an overview of what we’ll cover:

We have lots to cover, so let’s dive in!

Google Analytics 4 Tutorial for Beginners: The Basics

First, let’s take a look at the interface.

Google Analytics 4 interface

Here, we have the GA4 Google Merch Shop demo account.

GA4 Google Merch shop demo account

Google provides this fully functional Google Analytics account for any user to access. It is connected to the Google official merchandise store, giving you access to diverse data sets you may not possess.

Google’s official merchandise store

It provides a way to explore existing business data and experiment with Google Analytics features.

💡 Top Tip: Check out our guide on the Practical Values of the Google Analytics 4 Demo Account to learn what account types and data sources are available for testing and how to access the GA4 demo account.

What is Google Analytics 4 all about?

Whether you’re an online store owner, you have a blog or a SaaS business, you probably have decisions to make. These decisions may involve deciding whether you change something on your website.

To determine what things you can do and how you can optimize them, a helpful thing to do as an online business owner is to look at your numbers.

Google Analytics is a tool that lets you track all your different user interactions. Google Analytics 4 is the latest (and now the only) version of Google Analytics.

When users go to your product page, add a product to the cart, or check out and buy something from your store, you can track all these with Google Analytics 4.

Once you’ve tracked this data, you can use GA4 as your answering machine. You can go into the tool and say, “How many people visited my website last month?“

Here, we see that in the last 28 days, we had 68K users and $127K total revenue.

Last 28 days reports snapshot

There are more things we can look at. We can see the number of users that visited our website in the last 30 minutes and which countries they come from. We can also get some insights into our data.

Users in the last 30 minutes and insights cards

We can determine which channels our users come from and which campaigns perform best.

Users by default channel group and top campaigns

Finally, we can also see the locations where our users come from.

Users by country card

These are just a sliver of what you can do with GA4. There are more tools to it. When we do marketing analytics, for example, we dive right into the user acquisition reports that let us know how users come to our website.

Go to AcquisitionTraffic Acquisition.

Going to the traffic acquisition report

Here, you can see a table of the users that came through, the number of sessions, engaged sessions, and average engagement time per session.

Users, sessions, engaged sessions, and average engagement time per session

We can quickly look at a channel and determine how many people came and how long they stayed on our website. We can also learn the engagement rate, conversion rate, and how many conversions they generate.

Conversions are actions that you want your users to take on your website. With Google Analytics 4, you can track these easily.

After building out your tracking and making it more custom to your platform, you can gather more insights about your business. Let’s look at what data we can collect for a website.

Go to MonetisationE-commerce Purchases.

Going to the eCommerce purchases report

Here, we can see a list of the items we sell in our store, the number of times users viewed them, added them to the cart, purchased them, and how much revenue we generated.

Table of items in the eCommerce store

Next, we can go to the User Purchase Journey report.

Going to the user purchase journey report

You can look at the funnel of how many people entered your store, viewed a product, added it to the cart, began checkout, and purchased, along with the equivalent abandonment rates.

User purchase journey funnel

In the Tech Overview report, you can find more information about your users, like what devices they use to arrive at your website and which operating system.

Top devices and operating systems in the tech overview report

All of this will inform you about who is visiting your website, where they come from, and what they do once they are on your site.

It also lets you ask specific questions about your business. Then, hopefully, you can take action based on what the data shows you.

For example, if you have many Android users coming to your website, you could check the Android compatibility of your website, see if people can make a purchase without issues, or if there is anything you can optimize.

It is a crucial step in any digital analytics process. You need to make a recommendation and take action on that data – this is how you can get an ROI on your analytics investment.

Why do online stores often use Google Analytics on their website?

Multiple other tools can do web tracking and web analytics for you. Some share many similarities to GA4, but the big differentiator with Google Analytics is that it’s free.

🚨 Note: If you are interested in what other analytics tools are available and their capabilities, check out our list of the Top 5 GA4 Alternatives.

Nowadays, GA4 is a must-have for whoever is operating a professional website. One drawback of Google Analytics, however, is that it is not as intuitive when you look at the interface.

Do not feel overwhelmed with all this data. We are going to discover all of this together.

Let’s kick off our Google Analytics 4 tutorial for beginners by installing Google Analytics on our website!

Installing Google Analytics 4 on Your Website

To start, go to the Google Analytics website.

Signing up to Google Analytics

If you are setting up Google Analytics for the first time, you must have a Google account ready.

After logging into your Google account, we will see this overview for setting up your GA4 account.

Steps for setting up a Google Analytics account

In Google Analytics, we have accounts and properties. An account acts like a container in which you put your properties. Usually, you would choose your company name as the account name if you have multiple websites (properties).

Let’s call this account Company LLC.

Providing an account name

Next, we can go through the Account Data Sharing Settings with Google. If you want to tweak which data you share with Google, read through and adjust these settings.

Account data-sharing settings

Once you have finished your data sharing, click Next.

Going to the property creation settings

Next, we’ll get to the property settings. If you have several websites, you can create a property for each and store them in a single account.

In our case, we have a property here, which is our demo shop.

MeasureSchool demo shop

Then, we have the property details. We need to provide a name, reporting time zone, and currency.

Choosing the correct reporting time zone is vital because we need to sync it to whatever time zone you are working on or align it to your backend. Afterwards, pick the currency. The currency is vital when you are working with an eCommerce website.

Let’s go with Demoshop for the name, select the United Kingdom for the time zone, and use the US Dollar as the currency. Finally, click Next.

Property creation settings

Then, we’ll go to the business details section. Google wants some information about your business to help them understand your business better and tailor your experience to your business type.

First, we should provide our industry category. In our case, we have a Shopping website. Next, specify the business size. Let’s go with Small. Then, click Next.

Business details settings

Next, we get to the business objectives.

Business objectives settings

Your selection here decides what reports you can see in the interface later. I want to keep it generic, but feel free to choose whatever suits you and your business best.

I’ll go with the Get baseline reports option and click Create.

Creating an account and property with baseline reports

Next, go through the Terms of Service agreement. Read through all of this and check the data processing terms. Finally, click I Accept.

Accepting Google Analytics terms of service

Finally, we are at the last step, which is data collection. We’ll get to this step later in our tutorial, so click Skip for now.

Skipping the data collection step

We are almost there. We only need to set everything up. Click Continue to Home.

Continuing to the Google Analytics home

We are now in our brand new Google Analytics account.

Newly created Google Analytics account

No data is flowing into our account yet. So, let’s go ahead and set it up now.

🚨 Note: If you’re hesitant about changing something on your website while still testing how GA4 works, consider making a demo website for all your testing needs.

Your case might be completely different from what we are showing here. If you are running a website on Shopify, Magento, a completely different CMS, or it’s even self-built, you can still follow the steps. They will only differ a little from what we are doing.

💡 Top Tip: We have created more specific tutorials for Shopify and ThriveCart websites that you might want to check out. Follow our guides on the new Google Analytics 4 Shopify Connector and ThriveCart Tracking with GA4 and GTM.

We’ll set up data collection for a website built on WordPress. So, try to follow along even if you don’t use WordPress since the process is general.

First, we must set up a data stream to start measuring inside Google Analytics. Go to the Admin section. Then, click Data Streams.

Going to the data stream settings

Data streams are the sources of data that go into your account.

You can send data between different platforms such as from a website, an Android app, or an iOS app, and theoretically, through a measurement protocol.

For our case, we are looking at a website, so select Web.

Creating a web data stream

We need to provide our website URL to set up a web stream. Go to our demo shop and copy the URL.

Copying the demo shop website URL

Paste the URL back into Google Analytics. Next, name our stream Demo Website. If you have multiple data streams, you should easily distinguish this from them.

Then, we have the enhanced measurement option. These are a bunch of data that Google Analytics will try to gather for you automatically. We’ll leave this turned on and look at it later on. Click Create Stream.

Creating a data stream for the demo shop

Here, we get the web stream details and the instructions on installing our Google Analytics code onto our website. Google automatically detected that we were tracking a WordPress website and were using the WooCommerce plugin.

WooCommerce plugin on the demo shop

Using a plugin is one way to install Google Analytics on our website. The plugin deploys a JavaScript code in the background that gathers your data.

We can see the exact code by going to the Install Manually tab. The Google tag below needs to be installed on all the pages of your website for Google Analytics to work correctly.

The Google tag JavaScript code

You might be intimidated and not want to do anything with code, but it’s only a copy-and-paste method. Depending on your website and its complexity, you might want to get some help from a developer to install this.

There are three methods for installing GA4 on your website.

The first method is using plugins. If your CMS is popular and has a plugin store or extensions, there is likely a way to install Google Analytics to your website without coding.

You can install a plugin onto your website and enter a measurement ID or tag ID. For example, here we have our tag ID.

Copying the tag ID

Next, let’s go into the backend of WordPress, for example. Go to PluginsAdd New.

Adding a new plugin in WordPress

Search for available Google Analytics 4 plugins. Here, we have over 400 search result items.

Looking for GA4 plugins in WordPress

The second way to install Google Analytics is by doing it manually. We will take this code and place it in the HTML source code of your website.

Go to your website, right-click on the page, and select View Page Source.

Viewing the page source of the demo shop

Viewing the page source opens up the HTML your browser downloads from the server.

Opening the HTML source of the demo shop