Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the latest version of Google’s web analytics platform. It offers several new features and integrations that can help you better understand your website’s traffic and user behaviour.
One of the most powerful ways to enhance the functionality of GA4 is by linking it with other Google tools, such as Google Search Console, Google Ads, Merchant Center, and Looker Studio. Read on to find out the specific benefits that might be useful to your online business!
Google Search Console
By linking GA4 with Google Search Console, you can view the Google search console data in your GA4 property. This allows you to see how often pages from your website are showing in Google’s free organic search results, and which search terms triggered those results to show on the search results page.
By linking Google Search Console to your GA4 property, you’ll also be able to add the Search Console report to your interface, via the Reporting Library.
Custom reports can be added to GA4 using the report library feature.
These reports can combine information from Search Console with metrics from Google Analytics to give you a much more in-depth view of your organic traffic. Some very useful additional metrics to add to your Search Console data include:
- Engaged Sessions – The overall volume of sessions where users engaged with your website.
- Engagement Rate – What percentage of your organic users actually engaged with your website.
- Conversions – The number of conversion events that occurred from your organic traffic visitors.
This information helps you better understand how paid text ads and organic search results work together to help you reach people searching online.
By linking Google Ads and Analytics, you can better visualise the full customer cycle, from how they interact with your paid digital marketing to how they finally complete the objectives you’ve set when conversion events are triggered.
As of the current time, despite Google Analytics 4 now being the only version of Google Analytics recording data, the GA4 interface is quite poor at displaying Google Ads data, due to a lack of access to metrics available in the API. There is also no default Google Ads report, such as that which existed in Universal Analytics.
In Universal Analytics, the default Google Ads report had more accessible features.
However, it is still worth linking your Google Ads account to Google Analytics 4, as this will allow you to import conversion events from GA4 into Google Ads, including custom events set up via other tools, such as Google Tag Manager.
By linking Google Analytics 4 to Google Ads, you can better understand the effectiveness of your paid advertising campaigns and make data-driven decisions about how to optimise them further to increase the volume of leads and make the most of your budgets by reducing the cost per conversion.
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If you are selling products through Merchant Center, then linking this tool to Google Analytics 4 can provide you with some added reporting benefits. While other tools such as Google Ads may use your Product Feeds already, Merchant Center also offers Free Product Listings. The data from these reports are normally only available within Merchant Center itself. By linking Merchant Center and having the auto-tagging setting enabled in Merchant Center, then your Google Analytics 4 reports will be able to recognise and report on organic shopping traffic.
With this data, you can compare your organic shopping traffic and conversions with other sources, such as paid shopping traffic, organic search traffic, social traffic and more and find out where your best customers are coming from.
Another benefit of linking these tools together is that Google Analytics 4 can export your GA4 conversions back to Merchant Center, and provide your Merchant Center reports with additional conversion data, if you prefer just using that single interface.
When it comes to reporting, Google Analytics 4 does still lack a few key features that were present in Universal Analytics. While the information is available in GA4, it’s often buried, poorly visualised or simply hard to find.
Default charts in GA4 are fairly limited in what can be displayed.
By linking Google Analytics 4 to Looker Studio (formerly known as Data Studio) you can access many of the metrics and create your own reports and dashboards. This has the added benefit of allowing you to mix and match data from multiple sources, including Google Ads, Search Console, Google Sheets or other third-party tools.
Different connectors are available to mix data with your GA4 metrics.
We would note that as of the time of writing, the Google Analytics 4 data connector is still under development and has a few issues, however we would like to assume that these are being worked on given the recent sunset of Universal Analytics. If you prefer easy to read visuals and more control over what data is shown, then linking Google Analytics 4 can help you arrange your data for presentation so that anyone can understand it much more easily.
Bonus Tool: BigQuery
Exporting your GA4 data into BigQuery allows for more advanced analysis and querying of your data. BigQuery is a powerful data warehousing tool that can handle large datasets and complex queries. By exporting your GA4 data into BigQuery, you can perform more advanced analysis on your data, such as creating custom reports or building machine learning models.
BigQuery is generally more suitable for larger organisations or for reporting that requires a significant amount of access to events. Tools such as Looker Studio do have limitations in place for accessing data too frequently, which BigQuery can resolve.
In conclusion, linking GA4 with other Google tools can provide several benefits that can help you better understand your website’s traffic and user behaviour. By taking advantage of these integrations, you can gain deeper insights into your data and make more informed decisions about how to optimise your website and advertising campaigns.