Google Analytics 4 guide for PPC

23 May 2024
Google Analytics 4 guide for PPC

Want to use Google Analytics 4 for paid search. This article walks through you get right out of the box.

Like many of you, I shut off Google Analytics 4 right away after opening it for the first time and stated, “nope!”

A year went by. Then, in 2023, we discovered that Universal Analytics was closing, which ultimately compelled me to investigate GA4.

It is similar to switching from Windows to Mac. All you need to do is be aware of what you’re viewing.

Universal Analytics is going away

Setting up goals and installing GA4 on your website are highly necessary.

The importance of installing GA4 immediately cannot be overstated, even if you want to wait until July 2023 to become fully proficient with it.

UA will cease to exist in July 2023. You must be able to compare data from year to year. If you haven’t installed GA4 on your website yet this year, you can’t do that.

Reports from UA and GA4 must be exported, then combined in some way. That is possible in Data Studio, but it is really complicated.

This indicator indicates that your website is not safe if you see it. The symbol below is what you ought to be hoping for.

Whereas UA still employs the outdated session-based approach, GA4 adopts an event-based one. This makes it possible to send your analytics with a lot more data.

You can submit up to 25 event parameters with the GA4 tag. Only four might be sent by UA per event.

Up to 500 events with distinct names are possible in GA4. Only events that you create are subject to the 500 event cap. This cap is not applied to GA4 events that are automatically generated, such as page_view, click, or video_start.

Since many people have already installed GA4, I won’t go into depth about that process here.

You ought to activate Enhanced Measurement, among other things.

To accomplish it, navigate to the property you are working on’s Admin > Data Streams. Verify that the Enhanced measurement slider is turned on by clicking the Web tab.

You may view all the various metrics, including scrolls and outbound clicks, by selecting the gear icon on the far right.

Setting up conversions

Google has released a tool to transfer your conversions from Universal Analytics to GA4 if you already have goals set up. In the event that you lack this, you will have to create a Custom HTML tag using Google Tag Manager in order to push your conversion data to the data layer.

You may already be able to accomplish this with some plugins and outside services. All you need to do is click on Configure from the main menu once the events are created. Events will be displayed first.

Whenever you wish to construct a conversion, always start here. This may already include the conversion you wish to count. To activate, simply locate your event and click the slider.


New concepts

Distinguishing between session engagement and user engagement is one of GA4’s core ideas. The ability to track user interaction over multiple sessions is the primary distinction.

Every session’s data is included in a session engagement. The focus of GA4 is engagement.

The elimination of the bounce rate is the primary change you will observe in GA4. The phrase “Engaged Sessions” has taken its place. Either a session is engaged or it is not.

A user must stay on the website for more than ten seconds, complete two or more page views, or trigger a conversion in order to be considered engaged.


We now feature Average Engagement Time per Session in place of Average Session Duration. You can go to the Explore page and generate a custom report if the item you are looking for—and there are a lot of things not available in GA4—is not available. Custom reports are similar to Universal Analytics’ Data Studio or Analysis Hub.

Google Ads

The left menu in GA4 is significantly smaller, has fewer submenus, and many items are hidden or missing. This is the first thing you will notice about the program.

I also observed that not every component allows you to alter the time period you are viewing. To be more precise, you are unable to modify the time period for any custom reports that you are running in the library.

The workaround is to go to another area where you can modify the time period, such as the Report main menu. After that, return to your report, and the changes will be there.

The Google Ads area is missing when it comes to paid search. Under Report > Acquisition on the second row, the third box on the bottom right, is where you will find the Google Ads area of the Acquisition Overview submenu.

The inability to view reports with tables that you can click on and drill down to get more detail is one of the main issues with GA4. The Google Ads report that I previously indicated will by default provide campaign statistics.

Ad Groups are no longer visible when you click on them. In order to view Ad Groups, Keywords, or other Google Ads elements, you must modify the pull-down menu.

All of the Ad Groups will be displayed if you choose Ad Groups. It is not possible to view only Ad Groups from a particular campaign.

Any dimension you choose will yield the same results. A very basic search box is located at the top of the table if you would like to filter it. Regex is not supported, and the attractive visual filter found in Universal Analytics is absent.

Every table report has this functionality—or doesn’t. Every table has a little blue + sign that allows you to add a new dimension, such as browser or city, as you will notice.

This isn’t included in the Google Ads report for some reason. You must select Report > Acquisition > User Acquisition and examine the table in the report’s second row in order to view this data. Here, you can only access the Ad Groups dimension.

The secondary dimension dropdown is now functional.

Advanced reporting is extremely limited

It appears that the default GA4 is made for inexperienced users to easily obtain overview information.

Without sufficient understanding of GA4, many of the formerly accessible and easily navigable detailed reports are no longer available. If you know how to set them up, the custom reports under the Explore menu can be very effective.

A gallery of pre-made reports exists, however it’s currently somewhat small. There will be additional custom reports and articles explaining how to generate particular reports when GA4 has been available for a while.

The guest author’s opinions are presented in this piece, not necessarily those of Search Engine Land. Here is a list of staff writers.

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