How to Track Website Traffic Using Universal Analytics (And Google Analytics 4)

Analytics Apr 6, 2023 20 minutes read

Table of contents

    What percentage of your website’s traffic comes from Google searches vs. social media platforms? 

    How much traffic comes to your website from paid Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn ads? 

    What is your top-performing traffic source?

    If you don’t have the answers to these questions, you’re letting the potential of Google Analytics go to waste.

    Understanding your website traffic is more than just checking out how many visitors you had last month – it’s about getting more visitors, finding the right campaigns to target them, optimizing your best-performing channels, and knowing how to convert them once you actually get them on your website.

    And when it comes to web traffic data, Google Analytics is a goldmine if you know how to take advantage of it.

    In this article, we’ll show you how to track website traffic using both Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4, how to analyze that data, and how to do both in a simpler way.

    Google-Analytics-Traffic-Growth-Dashboard-Template

    How to Track Website Traffic

    Figuring out where your website traffic is coming from may seem a bit daunting at first, especially if you don’t have much experience looking at analytics reports.

    But we’re going to show exactly which reports you should focus on so you don’t get lost.

    Here’s how to track website traffic in:

    Universal Analytics

    For a general overview of your website’s traffic analytics, go to Reports > Acquisition > Overview.

    Here, you’ll see a pie chart representing your top channels and the percentage of traffic they amount to.

    Traffic report in Universal Analytics

    If you want to check your top channels for a specific time frame, you can change the date range in the top right corner of the page.

    We can also dig a bit deeper into Universal Analytics by heading to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels. This shows you which channels are generating traffic (but more about that later when we talk about the analysis).

    traffic sources in GA

    To track the exact source of your traffic, head over to Source/Medium.

    track the exact source of your traffic

    You can also see more specific segmentation options like Google Ads (paid traffic), Search Console (organic traffic), Social (social media traffic), and Campaign (UTM tracking data) if you want to go deeper down the rabbit hole.

    GA more specific segmentation option examples

    Google Analytics 4

    If you’ve already migrated to Google Analytics 4, you can find your website traffic report by going to Acquisition > Traffic Acquisition.

    GA4 traffic report

    In GA4, the Source/Medium data is automatically revealed and you won’t have to open any additional tabs to find it.

    Depending on what you want to track here, you’ll have to set up comparisons (more about that in the following section).

    The main difference between GA4 and UA here is that Google has made it easier to track your most important traffic data in one place.

    Related: Google Analytics 4 Custom Dimensions 101 Guide

    Databox

    There’s no doubt that GA4 has done a great job of simplifying the traffic reports in the new platform, making it a lot easier to track where your users are coming from and later analyze that data.

    However, there are still quite a few alleyways and detours that might cause confusion.

    With Databox, this same process is like an open highway.

    You can track all of your most important traffic metrics in one comprehensive dashboard and monitor changes in real-time.

    Here are the 3 easy steps you can follow to track your traffic in Databox:

    1. Connect Your Data

    Connecting Universal Analytics or Google Analytics 4 to your dashboard takes literally seconds.

    Just go to Data Sources, choose Google Analytics or GA4, and click on “Connect Now”.

    We have 100+ other integrations available and you can combine different data sources if you want to track metrics from several tools in one place.

    Each integration comes with the most popular metrics and their visualizations already built in, but we also have a range of custom metrics available, and ultimately, depending on your needs, we can even build custom metrics for you.

    2. Build Your Dashboard

    Once you connect your data source, you can use the Dashboard Designer to drag-and-drop the traffic metrics you need and organize them how you see fit.

    Build Your Dashboard

    You can visualize the metrics with just a few clicks and customize each block in the dashboard, without any coding or design knowledge whatsoever.

    We have 300+ pre-built templates available (we’ll show you some of the best ones for Google Analytics traffic in a minute) but you can also create a dashboard from scratch.

    3. Share Your Dashboard

    Does your team frequently lose track of shared spreadsheets and report screenshots?

    This is a common occurrence in many companies, especially when data needs to be pulled out manually and organized in multiple sheets or data sources.

    Databox eliminates this issue and you can automate the reporting process in just a few minutes.

    You can send customized reports specific to each department’s needs by looping dashboards together and scheduling when and how you want them to be sent.

    How to Analyze Your Traffic Data in Universal Analytics & Google Analytics 4

    Both Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 offer a ton of insightful reports, but you’ll need to know which dimensions and filters to use to get the most out of them.

    And while there is no one-size-fits-all solution to analyzing traffic in GA, here are some of the reports and best practices that most companies use during analysis.

    Universal Analytics

    Let’s circle back to the Overview report.

    traffic overview report

    As you can see, this report shows you which marketing channels are driving the most traffic and the number of visitors you generated in a specific time frame.

    Now, to dig deeper into the channels, we should move to Reports > Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels.

    Below the fold, you’ll see the main channels like Organic Search, Direct, Social, Email, and Referral.

    On the right side of each channel, you’ll metrics divided into three groups – Acquisition, Behavior, and Conversions.  

    You can use these metrics to gain a deeper understanding of your traffic sources, check out which channels might be a good idea to prioritize, and identify the weakest channels for improvement.

    Under acquisition is also the Source/Medium report we mentioned earlier, where you can see the exact source of traffic for each channel.

    see the exact source of traffic

    It helps you identify the exact sources that are bringing the most traffic and shows you users’ behavioral data to see how they interact with your website once they land.

    If you want to get the same data for specific pages, you need to go to Behavior > Site Content, you can find it on the left side of the main interface.

    You have three choices here in terms of traffic sources – all pages, landing pages, and exit pages.

    We’re going to focus on landing pages since that’s the first page your traffic will land on after going through one of your digital channels.

    To obtain this data, we need to add a Secondary Dimension and find Source/Medium (beneath Acquisition).

    This will prompt a list of all of your website’s landing pages, the traffic source for them, and information about the medium (how the users arrived at your website).

    Secondary dimensions and filters are the main tools in Universal Analytics for further segmentation of data, but they’re not exactly beginner-friendly.

    Luckily, this changed in GA4 and it’s a lot simpler now to navigate through these customization features.

    Google Analytics 4

    In GA4, the report where you track overall traffic (Acquisition > Traffic Acquisition) is the same place where you can find channel data for analysis. You won’t have to juggle different reports like in UA.

    However, you do need to customize and filter the data through different comparisons if you want to get more granular.

    If you want more detailed data on a certain part, just hover your mouse over the graphs.

    GA4 Traffic Acquisition) report

    Below the fold, there’s a detailed breakdown of all channel groups (or session source/medium data depending on how you’ve set your GA4 account) alongside a few customizable elements.

    This data shows you exactly where traffic is coming from (e.g. Organic), the data that used to be in the ‘Channels’ report in UA.

    But sometimes, you might run into a ‘Direct/None’ value. This appears when GA4 doesn’t have any information on those visitors and can’t attribute them to a specific source.

    Another thing that might be confusing is the ‘Not set’ value. This means that the keyword dimension for that direct traffic isn’t filled and the keyword data is unknown.

    You can fix both these issues with URL tags that will help GA4 track the users back to their entry point.

    Related: How to Track Conversions with Google Analytics 4: 7 Best Practices

    Another good tip here is to customize the information that appears in this part of your traffic acquisition report.

    To get more information on each category, just click the ‘+’ sign to insert an extra row and get granular with the information that’s important to you.

    For instance, if you want to check which browser your visitors are using, you can add a ‘Browser’ section.

    traffic breakdown by browser example

    Depending on what you want to see in your traffic acquisition report, you can customize it by adding different comparisons at the top until you have a comprehensive view of your most important traffic data.

    In the picture below, you can see an example of a report with an ‘Country’ comparison built in.

    traffic breakdown by country example

    Adding comparisons in GA4 is similar to adding segments in UA, but the reports are a bit more user-friendly now and it’s simpler to customize them accordingly to your most relevant data.

    However, it’s still not ideal, and things can get messy really quickly if you still haven’t learned how the customization options function.  

    How to Analyze Your Traffic Data in Databox

    In Universal Analytics, you can create more comprehensive reports if you know how to navigate custom dimensions and filters, but this was always considered an advanced feature reserved for more experienced marketers.

    This changed in Google Analytics 4 with the introduction of comparisons. Now, it’s pretty much a necessity to know how to implement comparisons in order to get the most out of your data. The upside is that the customization options are a lot easier to learn now.

    However, organizing the metrics and visualizing your most important KPIs is just as messy as it used to be.

    There’s only so much you can fit in a single report, you can’t combine metrics from unrelated reports, it takes up a whole day to visualize the data… you end up spending more hours compiling data than actually analyzing it.

    With Databox, you won’t have to deal with these issues anymore.

    You have a lot more flexibility in combining the metrics you want to track, visualizations are just a few clicks away, you can get as granular as you want with your traffic KPIs, and you can integrate metrics from other tools to get the full picture of your performance.

    In a matter of minutes, you can build a comprehensive report with all of your key information and have it ready for analysis.

    Depending on which metrics you include, you can conduct granular analysis for:

    • Organic traffic: Monitor data like the number of organic sessions you’re generating, the number of unique users, the best-performing landing pages, which devices organic visitors use, and more.
    • Traffic sources: Track metrics that show you where the most valuable visitors come from, which marketing channels are performing the best, which channels need to be optimized, which campaigns have been the most successful, and more.
    • Blog traffic: You can also zero in on specifically your blog traffic and track data like which keywords are driving the most visitors, which blog posts are the most popular, what’s your average ranking position, and more.
    • General traffic overview: Monitor the overall number of sessions in a specific time frame, which channels are generating which % of traffic, which social networks are driving the most qualified visitors, what devices visitors use, and more.

    The point is, customizing your report and preparing it for proper analysis in Databox doesn’t come with any restrictions or limitations.

    You can combine metrics from several tools, visualize your metrics, and create reports that tell a compelling data story and aren’t just a collection of dry numbers.

    Related: The 16 Most Useful Google Analytics Reports (Recommended By Experts)

    Google Analytics Traffic Report Templates

    Even though Google Analytics does provide users with various traffic reports, they simply aren’t very intuitive, especially if you don’t have much experience analyzing traffic in GA.

    You can save both time and nerves by automating the process with report templates that come pre-built with some of the most popular GA traffic metrics.

    Here are some of our most popular templates that you can download for free:

    Google Analytics Website Traffic & Engagement Report

    The Google Analytics Website Traffic & Engagement Report provides you with a birds-eye overview of your most important traffic and engagement metrics, like the number of unique visitors, total visitors, returning visitors, bounce rate, average time on page, and more.

    Google Analytics Website Traffic & Engagement Report

    You’ll know immediately how your website is performing and converting, without the hassle of searching for data in multiple reports.

    Some of the main things you’ll learn are:

    • Where website traffic is coming from
    • Whether there’s an increase in traffic compared to a specific past period
    • Progress toward hitting your set goals
    • Which search queries drive people to your website
    • Which channels are generating the most traffic
    • Which pages have the highest bounce rates

    And a lot more.

    Google Analytics Organic Traffic Report

    If you want to zero in on organic traffic and monitor the overall engagement your website is getting from search engines, you can download the free Google Analytics Organic Traffic Report.

    Google Analytics Organic Traffic Report

    This report contains a snapshot of key organic traffic metrics like sessions, users, pages per session, bounce rate, and more.

    Use it to find out:

    • The total number of organic sessions your website is generating
    • The total number of unique visitors you’re generating organically
    • Which landing pages generate the most organic traffic
    • Which devices do organic visitors use the most
    • The engagement level of organic visitors

    Google Analytics Traffic Growth Report

    For deeper insight into what’s going on with your website traffic and how different channels are affecting traffic growth, you can use the Google Analytics Traffic Growth Report.

    Google Analytics Traffic Growth Report

    Some of the main things you’ll learn include:

    • How many people have visited your website in X time
    • Which digital channels are driving the most traffic
    • Which websites are the main referrers to your website
    • Which social networks are generating the most traffic
    • Traffic quality for each channel

    Google Analytics Traffic Source Breakdown Report

    Want a full breakdown of your traffic segments?

    This free Google Analytics Traffic Source Breakdown Report shows you where your website visitors come from, which channels generate the most valuable traffic, and which campaigns have been the most successful.

    Google Analytics Traffic Source Breakdown Report

    Download this free report and check out:

    • What are the best-performing traffic sources are
    • Bounce rates for each marketing channel
    • Number of sessions for each marketing channel
    • The average length of site visits for each channel
    • Which channels drive the most engagement
    • Which pages attract the most organic traffic
    • How do new and returning visitors interact with the website

    Blog Traffic Distribution Report

    The Blog Traffic Distribution Report is a great tool to pinpoint your website’s top-performing articles in organic search and check out exactly how much traffic they are generating.

    Blog Traffic Distribution Report

    This report template also works great with SEMRush and similar keyword research tool integrations since you can track key metrics like keyword rankings, visibility trends, site errors, estimated traffic, and similar metrics in one place.

    Other things you’ll learn include:

    • Which keywords are driving the most traffic to your blog
    • Which blog posts are the top performers and are driving the most organic traffic
    • Immediate insight into sudden traffic dips
    • Average keyword ranking position

    And a lot more.

    Mobile vs. Desktop Traffic Report

    To drill into both your mobile and desktop traffic data, and find actionable insights that will help you further optimize user experience, you can use the Mobile vs. Desktop Traffic Report.

    Mobile vs. Desktop Traffic Report

    Download this report to find out how both mobile and desktop visitors interact with your website and use that information to make data-driven decisions regarding future optimization.

    Learn things like:

    • Which device do your top-converting visitors prefer
    • How much of your traffic comes from a specific device type
    • How does mobile traffic performance compare to desktop traffic performance
    • How many pages do mobile visitors view on average
    • What’s the bounce rate across devices and browsers
    • The average session length across devices and browsers

    Google Analytics 4 Audience Overview Report

    If you’ve already transitioned to GA4 but still have some trouble adapting to the audience analytics, you can use the free Google Analytics 4 Audience Overview Report to streamline the process.

    Google Analytics 4 Audience Overview Report

    This template provides you with an at-glance overview of your website audience data and key user information such as location, engagement, and common devices.

    Once you connect your GA4 account, you’ll learn:

    • Audience demographics data (e.g. where most of your visitors are based)
    • Which device does the majority of your audience use
    • Which channels are driving the most traffic
    • Which channels are responsible for the top-converting visitors
    • How much traffic are you generating in a specific time frame

    Google Analytics 4 Acquisition Overview Report

    For a complete overview of your traffic sources, user behavior analytics, and insight into how it all affects your revenue, you can use the Google Analytics 4 Acquisition Overview Report.

    Google Analytics 4 Acquisition Overview Report

    Here are some of the main things you’ll learn with this template:

    • Which acquisition tactics are working with each specific demographic
    • Where are your website visitors coming from
    • Which channels generate the most traffic
    • What’s the ratio between new and returning visitors
    • What’s the total number of unique visitors
    • How is the traffic affecting your overall revenue
    Google-Analytics-Traffic-Growth-Dashboard-Template

    Streamline Your Google Analytics Tracking & Analysis Process with Databox

    No matter which version of Google Analytics you’re using, there’s only so much that the platform offers in terms of efficient reporting.

    Sure, GA4 has made the process more user-friendly with some new customization features, but it still takes a lot of time and effort to navigate through the different reports and combine the relevant data in one place.

    There’s simply not enough flexibility for businesses that prioritize data analysis and base their decisions on the actionable insights extracted from that data.

    So why waste time and nerves when there’s a simpler alternative?

    Databox can help you truly streamline both tracking and analysis of your traffic data.

    We offer seamless integration with both Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4, allowing you to pull up your most important traffic data onto one comprehensive dashboard in a matter of minutes.

    You can create a compelling story with your data, visualize the metrics in just a few clicks, and then analyze the data without spending countless hours on preparation.

    And if you use any other tools alongside GA, you can find it in our 100+ integration library and pull out metrics from them as well onto the same report.

    You can either build a dashboard from scratch or download one of our pre-built dashboard templates and customize them further based on your specific goals.

    For those of you that migrated to GA4 but are still struggling to make sense of your performance data, we have a free GA4 setup service where you can contact our team to build you a dashboard and help you analyze the data.

    Overall, staying on top of your traffic and transforming dry KPIs into meaningful reports has never been easier.

    Sign up for a forever-free account and take control of your traffic data with Databox.

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