Wondering how to create custom reports in Google Analytics 4 (GA4) using the new Explore tab?
The reporting interface in GA4 is a lot different than Universal Analytics, but with a little practice, you’ll be able to set up custom exploration reports in no time.
The only way you’ll learn how to create custom reports in GA4 is by trying them and playing around with the settings. There’s just no way around that. So, follow our tutorial first, then challenge yourself to create a couple reports!
In this article, we’ll go over step-by-step how to create a basic, free form custom report. We will not be going over funnel exploration or path exploration reports here at this time, but make sure to subscribe to our blog in the sidebar –> so you’re alerted when we do!
GA4 Explorations: Variables vs. Tab Settings
Before we dive into our step-by-step tutorial, we first need to explain how GA4’s reporting interface is laid out.
When you first set up a report, you’ll notice that there are two columns in the report editor: Variables and Tab Settings. This can be really overwhelming, so just focus on one at a time.
This column is where you choose all of the variables that you might want to use in your report. You want to think about all the data you might want to see, and add it here. These do not show up in the report without being dragged over to the other column.
Think of variables like all the data you might like to play around with in your report.
This column is what actually controls what appears in your report. You’ll be dragging and dropping dimensions and metrics from the Variables column here to add them to your report.
Tips for Adding Variables
When adding segments, dimensions or metrics to your report, you’ll see a long list of available variables, organized under headings:
The easiest way to find what you’re looking for is to use the search bar at the top. It’s also good to familiarize yourself with all the available dimensions and metrics by browsing through them.
When you’ve chosen the variables you want to add, click the blue Import button to add them to your report.
Google Analytics 4 [GA4] Custom Exploration Reports Tutorial
Ready to create your first custom report in GA4? Follow these steps to learn the basics.
- Choose Free Form in the Explore Tab
- Pick Date Range
- Add Segments (Optional)
- Add Dimensions
- Add Metrics
- Drag & Drop Segments
- Drag & Drop Rows and Columns
- Drag & Drop Values
- Drag & Drop Filters
1. Choose Free Form in the Explore Tab
First, go to the Explore tab in the left-hand navigation bar that pops out. Then, select Free form.
You can also use a blank template to create a free form report, but we like the free form option because it populates the report with some data to start. It’s often easier to manipulate it when you have the examples there, instead of starting from scratch, especially when you’re first starting out.
2. Pick a Date Range
Choose a date range for your report. It defaults to the past 30 days.
3. Add Segments (Optional)
Segments in GA4 mean just what they meant in Universal Analytics. They’re just ways of putting your traffic into buckets so that you can see it alone, or compare it with another segment.
- Traffic from a certain country, region or city
- Mobile traffic or desktop traffic
- Users who made a purchase
- Traffic from a certain channel (paid, organic, social)
4. Add Dimensions
Add any dimensions you might want in your report, beyond the ones that are there. Depending on the kind of report you want to see, you might want Event name, Campaign, or Page location.
5. Add Metrics
What numbers do you want to see about the dimensions you picked? You might want to see users, views, or purchases, for instance.
6. Drag & Drop Segments
Now that we’ve selected variables for our report, we can drag and drop them to where we want them to go. If you created any segments, go ahead and drag those over to the Segment Comparisons box.
7. Drag & Drop Rows and Columns
In Universal Analytics, you put dimensions into rows and metrics into columns. In GA4, you can add dimensions to either rows or columns to create the in-depth report you need to understand your data.
For instance, in the example report Google has made, you can see they’ve added City as a column, then Device category into rows. So, the graph will now show the city and device category for each metric (a.k.a. Value) that’s added (Active users in the example graph).
If you’re new to GA4 Explore reports, we recommend sticking with adding dimensions to rows only at first, then start playing with columns when you’re feeling more confident.
8. Drag & Drop Values
In custom reports in Universal Analytics, you just had metrics. In GA4, this section is called Values. You can only drag and drop metrics into this section. “Values” is actually a pretty helpful term, since values mean numbers.
So, in Google’s example report, active users is the value.
9. Drag & Drop Filters
If you need to filter the data in your report, the Filters box underneath Values is where you can add your filters. You can drag and drop dimensions or metrics into your filters, depending on what you’re trying to set up.
For instance, if you’re setting up an event report but you just want to see one certain event, you can drag Event name into your filters box and indicate which event you want to see.
One of the coolest features of GA4 Exploration reports is the ability to filter right from the report graph. Just right-click on an item and click Exclude selection. In this example, we’re filtering out (not set):
That’s the general overview of each report section! Go ahead and play around with creating custom reports on whatever makes the most sense for your website.
Custom Explore Report Example: Landing Pages
You may have noticed that there’s no landing pages report in the standard GA4 reporting interface. We’ll go over an example custom report and show you how to set it up so you can still see your landing page data easily.
Step 1: Create a Free Form Report
Start with a blank report:
Step 2: Add Dimensions
Click the plus button in the Dimensions box:
Now, use the search bar to locate and check the Landing page dimension, then click the blue Import button.
Step 3: Add Metrics
Now, click the plus button in the Metrics box:
Once again, use the search bar to locate and check the following metrics:
- Engaged Sessions
- Engagement Rate
- New Users
- User Engagement
- Purchases (Optional)
Click the blue Import button.
Step 4: Click and Drag Dimension & Metrics
Now that you have your dimensions and metrics selected, you can click and drag them into the report.
Click and drag your Landing page dimension into Rows:
Then, click and drag all of your metrics into Values:
That’s it! You now have a report about your landing pages, including how many entrances there were on those pages, how engaged your users were, and whether or not they completed a purchase.
You’re free to add any other metrics to the report that make sense for your business. For instance, if you want to know how many visitors to a specific landing page completed a specific event, you can add the Event count metric and filter so that only a specific event shows up.
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We hope this article was helpful for you! Stay tuned for articles detailing the other types of Exploration reports in GA4.
If you liked this article, you might also want to check out Google Analytics 4 Glossary: New GA4 Terms to Know.