Top 11 Most-Tracked Metrics in Google Analytics and GA4

Author's avatar Analytics UPDATED May 29, 2024 PUBLISHED Dec 5, 2023 18 minutes read

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    Peter Caputa

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    Switching from Universal Analytics to GA4 does come with a learning curve that some may find overwhelming. But, there’s no denying that Google’s revamped analytics tool offers plenty of benefits when it comes to more accurate tracking and understanding the data faster.

    In fact, “enhanced tracking and measurement” was the top reason for marketers who participated in our survey to switch to GA4. Other advantages of GA4 they listed were “refreshing and realigning analytics” and “getting more insights more quickly.”

    Why switch to GA4

    If you’re a recently switched marketer and you need a bit of guidance to understand how the new approach and metrics differ from the previous version of the tool, we’ve prepared this guide to help you kick things off.

    ga_seo_dashboard_template_databox

    Let’s dive right in.

    Google Analytics Metrics and Dimensions vs GA4

    Google Analytics 4 (GA4) differs significantly from Universal Analytics (UA) in terms of its focus and the way it processes and presents data.

    Here are the key differences:

    • UA revolves around sessions and pageviews as primary data points for analysis, while GA4 centers around tracking and processing events
    • Metrics in GA4 have a single scope (Event), while dimensions can have two scopes (Event and User)

    When you switch to GA4, you’ll also notice some new metrics are available, and some are missing, due to the new way the tool approaches data.

    GA4 introduces new metrics like Engaged Session (counting sessions meeting specific criteria), Average Engagement Time per Session (measuring time spent on a specific page), and Engagement Rate (Engaged Sessions divided by total sessions), which were not available in UA.

    At the same time, Bounce rate, which was prominent in Universal Analytics, is absent from GA4.

    Expert Insight: If you find GA4’s interface confusing, you can streamline the way you track all these metrics with Databox. Check out our free, customizable web analytics dashboard templates and start tracking website traffic, engagement, and more.

    Types of Metrics in Google Analytics and GA4

    GA4 metrics can be divided into two primary types: default and custom metrics.

    Default metrics in Google Analytics 4 are those that you can use right away as they’re already set up. They include metric sub-categories like acquisition metrics, engagement metrics, and monetization metrics.

    For example:

    • New users, engaged sessions, and event count belong to the acquisition metrics category
    • Users, views, and views per user represent engagement metrics
    • Item views, add to carts, and purchase revenue are examples of monetization metrics

    There are also custom metrics, which represent those set up by users who want to measure GA4 dimension attributes that aren’t already available.

    For instance, “number of video views” if your website homepage includes a video.

    11 Most Tracked Metrics in Google Analytics and GA4

    If you’re about to switch to tracking Google Analytics 4 metrics to better understand your website performance, here are the key ones to add to your dashboard. To help you get a better picture of what you’ll find in GA4, we’ll also explain how the new metrics differ from the ones you used to track in Universal Analytics.

    1. Users
    2. Bounce Rate
    3. Sessions
    4. Average Session Duration
    5. Percentage of New Sessions
    6. Sessions by Channel
    7. Pages Per Session
    8. Event Count
    9. Pageviews
    10. Conversions
    11. Engagement Rate

    Users

    In Google Analytics, this metric used to designate the number of unique website visitors. But what does “Users” metric measure in GA4, this metric has evolved and consists of three metrics:

    • Total users: The total number of unique visitors to your website
    • New users: The number of first-time visitors to your website, and 
    • Active users: The number of website visitors with an engaged session or for which GA4 collects certain parameters

    Now, let’s take a step back to understand what an engaged session means. An engaged session lasts at least 10 seconds, has at least one conversion event, or involves at least two page or screen views.

    The alternative condition a user should meet to be considered an active user is for GA4 to collect the first_visit event or engagement_time_msec parameter.

    You may notice a difference between the calculations of “Users” metrics in UA and GA4 since the definitions are not the same, but Google claims discrepancies up to 20% are expected.

    Recommended Datablock

    To track users in Databox, Weidert Group’s Jonathan Stanis recommends the Line Graph Datablock with comparisons turned on:

    “This Datablock is very useful in letting us see if any particular piece of content caused a spike in traffic or other general trends,” Stanis says. “December always tends to be a slow month for us, particularly between Christmas and New Years, and the ‘Users’ line graph clearly shows this trend.”

    GA4 users

    Benchmark

    According to Databox’s own Google Analytics 4 benchmark report, the median value of Active Users for SaaS & B2B companies is 2.51K (a month).

    GA4 median active users

    This benchmark was calculated from anonymized data from close to 1300 companies. Are you a SaaS company and want to benchmark your marketing performance, including Sessions, Engaged Sessions, Active Users, New Users, Events per Session, Engagement Rate, Event Count, Event Count by User, and Sessions per User, against other companies like yours? Join the Benchmark Group for free.

    For B2C companies, the median value is higher – 4.76K.

    GA4 B2C Active Users

    This benchmark was calculated from anonymized data from nearly 3000 companies. Are you a B2C company and want to benchmark your marketing performance against hundreds of other companies like yours? Join the Benchmark Group for free

    Expert Insight: Tracking User metrics can be simple with Databox. Use this Google Analytics 4 Acquisition Overview dashboard template to see where your users are coming from, how many new visitors you have every day, how much revenue they’re generating, and more.

    Google Analytics 4 Acquisition Overview dashboard template

    Bounce Rate

    Bounce rate was a notable metric in Google Analytics available in the main dashboard, that measured the percentage of visitors who visited a page on your website without interacting with it. In this case, the session duration was zero seconds.

    However, the definition of bounce rate changed in GA4. Now, the bounce rate is the percentage of sessions that were not engaged. As we mentioned above, that means the session lasted less than 10 seconds, the user didn’t trigger any events (didn’t convert), or they didn’t open any new pages or screens.

    In Universal Analytics, the bounce rate reflected the percentage of sessions where users viewed only one page, potentially overlooking deeper engagement on single-page applications. In Google Analytics 4, bounce rate signifies the percentage of sessions that lacked engagement criteria, offering a more nuanced view of user interactions, especially for content-focused sites like blogs where brief visits might still count as engaged sessions.

    Maybe the simplest way to explain Bounce rate in GA4 is to say that it’s the inverse of the engagement rate.

    Recommended Datablock

    To track the bounce rate in Databox, Avidly’s Elise Karlsen Bye recommends the Line Graph Datablock with comparisons turned on.

    Bounce rate

    Expert Insight: Unhappy with your website’s bounce rate? Try using an exit-intent pop-up to promote a special discount, a last-minute offer, or ask your website visitors for feedback. These tactics may lead to a reduced bounce rate.

    Sessions

    Sessions in Google Analytics were defined as periods of time during which a user actively engages with your website. A session was considered completed after 30 minutes of inactivity, after midnight, or due to new campaign parameters.

    In GA4, however, there are a few changes:

    • The metric is also called Session Start
    • A new session generates an ID, which makes it easier to track all events that happen in that session
    • The session does not automatically end at midnight (giving you a more precise number of sessions to work with)

    The new way of measuring sessions has different implications for many types of businesses, for example, for global ones, considering that users from different time zones will be visiting their websites and be more likely to cross the midnight threshold.

    Recommended Datablock

    To track sessions in Databox, PR 20/20’s Keith Moehring recommends the Line Chart Cumulative Datablock with comparison and goals turned on:

    “I like to see the day-by-day progress of this metric, and it’s often one with which we associate goals,” Moehring says.

    GA4 sessions

    Benchmark

    According to Databox’s own Benchmark data, the median value of sessions for B2B and SaaS companies is 2.82K (a month).

    This benchmark was calculated from anonymized data from over 1200 companies. Are you a B2B company and want to benchmark your marketing performance, including Users, Engaged Sessions, Active Users, New Users, Events per Session, Engagement Rate, Event Count, Event Count by User, and Sessions per Users, against other companies like yours? Join the Benchmark Group for free.

    For B2C companies, the median value is 4.34K.

    This benchmark was calculated from anonymized data from nearly 3000 companies. Are you a B2C company and want to benchmark your marketing performance against hundreds of other companies like yours? Join the Benchmark Group for free

    Expert Insight: You can track all your relevant Google Analytics 4 KPIs in one streamlined screen with this Databox GA4 KPI dashboard template. Monitor metrics such as Average Session Duration, Sessions, Sessions by Channel, and Session Conversion Rate, and quickly identify any emerging trends or bottlenecks in your website performance.

    GA4 KPI dashboard template

    Average Session Duration

    In Google Analytics, Average Session Duration used to measure the average length of a unique user’s visit on your website. You could calculate it by dividing the total session duration (in seconds) by the total number of sessions.

    In GA4, the measurement of this metric, which kept the same name, is much more accurate. Before, UA used to measure the Avg. Session Duration in the same way for all sessions. It didn’t matter, for instance, if a user was running your webpage in the background.

    Now, Avg. Session Duration uses the total duration of all engaged sessions to calculate the average session length, which gives you a more accurate idea on where you stand.

    Recommended Datablock

    To track average session duration in Databox, FCP Euro’s Amir Hamdi recommends the Audience Overview Datablock:

    Audience Overview datablock

    “As an e-commerce business, having all our website performance metrics available at a glance is critical,” Hamdi says. “The Audience Overview Datablock is the quickest way we can gauge site performance. As a bonus, I love being able to track metrics from Google Analytics and HubSpot in the same place.”

    Expert Insight: The Average Session Duration benchmarks vary by industry, but if you’re looking to improve yours, consider improving your content format to make it more accessible and engaging. For example, you may add images or videos to your pages or simplifying and shortening your page copy to make it more digestible.

    Percentage of New Sessions

    New sessions are registered when there’s no client ID associated with a website visitor. The metrics “% New Sessions” refers to the total percentage of first-time sessions on your website during a specific time frame.

    As Sessions are now measured differently (take a look at the explanation above), you may notice a difference in the number of new sessions in GA4—it may be lower because, for example, midnight doesn’t automatically end a session and start a new one.

    Recommended Datablock

    To track the percentage of new sessions in Databox, Imagine Business Development’s Doug Davidoff and Smartbug Media’s Juli Durante recommend the Line Graph Datablock with comparisons turned on:

    “With the Line Graph Datablock, we’re able to quickly see how things are trending at any moment,” Davidoff says. “Depending on the strategy we’re implementing, we know if ‘% New Sessions’ is too high, then we’re not engaging enough visitors to come back. If it’s too low, we’re not attracting enough new visitors to the top of our funnel.”

    “If you need to keep a database engaged long-term, seeing the line graph trend of repeat sessions is incredibly valuable,” Durante says.

    “If you need to generate a ton of new leads, the graph will show you how your traffic may help you meet that expectation. If you’re unsure of whether or not existing customers are visiting your website and affecting your conversion rates, new sessions is another indicator of that.”

    Percentage of New Sessions

    Sessions by Channel

    UA used to define “Session by channel” as the number of sessions that can be attributed to different marketing channels. This allowed marketers to easily understand where most of their sessions are coming from: paid, organic, social, email, and other channels.

    This metric is still available in GA4 in the Traffic Acquisition report. But, just like with other session-related metrics in Google Analytics 4, the number of sessions by channel may look different in GA4 due to the new way of measuring them.

    Recommended Datablock

    To track sessions by channel in Databox, The Weidert Group’s Jonathan Stanis recommends the Pie Chart Datablock:

    “This helps show where the largest audiences are coming from and what channels are struggling,” Stanis says.

    Sessions by channel

    Another great option is bubble visualization.

    Sessions by Channel

    Pages Per Session

    Google Analytics calculated “Pages Per Session” by dividing the total number of pageviews by the total number of sessions. These pageviews are necessarily unique, as the same user could view a single page five times and it would be counted as five pageviews.

    This is another metric affected by how sessions are measured. In GA, it’s still available by default, although it’s called Views per Session.

    Recommended Datablock

    To track pages per session in Databox, Prism Global Marketing Solutions’ Elyse Flynn Meyer recommends the Line Graph Datablock with comparisons turned on:

    “An increase in pages per session is often a clear indicator that your website visitors are more engaged and are looking to explore more of your content,” Meyer says. “By having this visualization in Databox, we can quickly see trends for how user engagement is increasing or decreasing over time.”

    Pages Per Session

    Event Count

    Event Count is a new metric that replaced Goal Completion from the old version of Google’s tool. It tracks the number of times users triggered an event on your website.

    Events can include a variety of actions that may happen on a website from any industry, including user acquisition and engagement events (new user sign up, bounce rate, newsletter sign up), lead generation and conversion events (live chat interaction, completed contact form, demo request), and more.

    GA4 allows you to dive deeper into your top events so that you can better understand your users’ journey and fine-tune it to better fit what they’re looking to learn or do on your website.

    Benchmark

    According to Databox’s own Benchmark data, the median value of event count for B2B and SaaS companies is 21.79K

    B2B event count

    This benchmark was calculated from anonymized data from over 1200 companies. Are you a B2B company and want to benchmark your marketing performance, including Users, Engaged Sessions, Active Users, New Users, Events per Session, Engagement Rate, Event Count, Event Count by User, and Sessions per Users, against other companies like yours? Join the Benchmark Group for free.

    For B2C companies, the median value is 33.35K.

    B2C event count

    This benchmark was calculated from anonymized data from nearly 3000 companies. Are you a B2C company and want to benchmark your marketing performance against hundreds of other companies like yours? Join the Benchmark Group for free

    Expert Insight: If you’re unsure which events to set up and track for your SaaS business, learn which are the essential ones to optimize your marketing funnel and how to track them in our free Monthly Marketing Performance (HubSpot & GA4) dashboard template.

    Monthly Marketing Performance (HubSpot & GA4) dashboard template

    Pageviews

    In UA, Pageviews were defined as the total number of pages viewed on your website. The tool counted even the repeated views of the same page.

    As we mentioned, Pageviews are now Views in GA4. In the main dashboard, you can track Views, Views per session, and Views per user. However, it’s important to highlight that this metric now combines pageviews and screenviews, meaning that it also counts app screen views within the same metric (not separately as UA did).

    Unique Pageviews is no longer available in GA4.

    Recommended Datablock

    To track pageviews in Databox, Stream Creative’s Steve James recommends the Line Graph Datablock with comparisons turned on:

    “Pageviews is a key metric to ensure that new and returning visitors continue to access content on your website,” James says. “A solid SEO strategy along with social, email, and other campaigns can be measured in part by watching this metric.”

    “With a custom dashboard software like Databox we can quickly compare and assess when we see a high number of pageviews and set up comparison data with our traffic sources and specific page results.”

    Pageviews

    Conversions

    In Google Analytics, you had to designate specific user actions as goals to consider them a conversion. UA is able to count only one conversion per session for the goal you’ve specified.

    Instead of goals, you specify conversion events in GA4. However, GA4 typically counts every conversion per session for your event. That means that if the same user submits their address for the newsletter two times, GA4 will count that as two conversions.

    If you prefer one conversion per session per event way of counting, you can edit your conversion counting settings and choose Once per session.

    Based on Databox’s research on how to track conversions in GA4, more than 75% of survey respondents believe GA4 is a better tool for tracking conversions.

    Conversion Tracking UA/ GA4

    In addition over 60% of our survey respondents stated that the additional options in GA4 for conversion tracking helped a lot.

    Additional options for conversion tracking in GA4

    Expert Insight: Tracking conversions in GA4 may come with a learning curve, but this guide with the top best practices, from setting up custom events to creating them for the entire customer journey, will surely help you get started.

    Engagement Rate

    As we’ve mentioned above, Engagement Rate is one of the new metrics available in GA4. It tells you the opposite of what Bounce Rate uncovers: the percentage of engaged sessions on your website.

    You can calculate this by dividing the number of engaged sessions by the total number of sessions during a specific time frame and then multiplying the result by 100.

    You can find this metric under “Session.”

    Benchmark

    According to Databox’s own Benchmark data, the median value of engagement rate for B2B and SaaS companies is 53.52%

    Engagement rate B2B GA4

    This benchmark was calculated from anonymized data from over 1200 companies. Are you a B2B company and want to benchmark your marketing performance, including Users, Engaged Sessions, Active Users, New Users, Events per Session, Engagement Rate, Event Count, Event Count by User, and Sessions per Users, against other companies like yours? Join the Benchmark Group for free.

    For B2C companies, the median value is 56.65K.

    B2C engagement rate GA4

    This benchmark was calculated from anonymized data from nearly 3000 companies. Are you a B2C company and want to benchmark your marketing performance against hundreds of other companies like yours? Join the Benchmark Group for free

    Expert Insight: You can easily track and measure the overall engagement on your website by using this free, customizable Google Analytics 4 Engagement Overview dashboard template. By monitoring sessions, events, views, and more and filtering them based on device, page title, and other elements, you can quickly understand what prompts people to interact with your website and what fails to keep them around for longer.

    Google Analytics 4 Engagement Overview dashboard template
    ga_seo_dashboard_template_databox

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    Author's avatar
    Article by
    Stefana Zaric

    Stefana Zarić is a freelance writer & content marketer. Other than writing for SaaS and fintech clients, she educates future writers who want to build a career in marketing. When not working, Stefana loves to read books, play with her kid, travel, and dance.

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