What Are Google Analytics Channels? GA4 Channels Guide

What Are Google Analytics Channels? GA4 Channels Guide

Looking for more information on Google Analytics channels?

Whether you’re brand new to GA4 or you’ve been using Google Analytics for a while, it’s important to understand what all of the channels are and what traffic they include.

When you’ve got all of the information, you can understand more about where your traffic is coming from and how your visitors are finding your website.

In this article, we’ll go over what the Google Analytics default channel grouping is, what traffic each of the Google Analytics channels includes, and more.

MonsterInsights is the best WordPress Analytics plugin. Get it for free!

Plus, for WordPress users, we’ll show you how you can see your Google Analytics channels right inside your WordPress dashboard.

GA4 Channels Video Walkthrough

What Are Google Analytics Channels?

Google Analytics channels are how Google categorizes the traffic to your website. There are a lot of different ways to get to your website — someone could type in your URL directly, click a link in your email signature, click on your result in Google search, click a link on your social media profile, and more. Google groups each of these website traffic sources into groups called channels.

The main Google Analytics channels are:

If you’re running paid ads, you might also see:

  • Paid Search
  • Paid Social
  • Paid Video
  • Display
  • Cross-network

Let’s take a quick look at each of these channels.

Organic Search

Organic search is traffic that finds your site through organic search engines like Google and Bing. If someone searches you by name or through another keyword and clicks on your result, that’ll count as organic search traffic.

Organic search - Google Analytics Channels


Direct traffic is traffic that visits your site by typing in your URL directly in the URL bar.

Direct Traffic


Referral traffic is traffic that’s referred to your site through links on other non-social websites. These could be blogs, other businesses, and more.

Referral - Google Analytics Channels


Email traffic is traffic that clicks to your site from an email message. Note that for this channel to work, the link to your site in an email needs to have a UTM source or UTM medium that equals “email”.

Email - Google Analytics Channels

Organic Social

Organic social traffic is traffic that clicks to your site from a social media post or profile. This could be from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, or any social media site.

Organic social traffic example

Organic Video

Organic video traffic is traffic that clicks to your site from a video on a site like YouTube, TikTok, or Vimeo.

Organic video - Google Analytics channel example

Paid Search

Paid search is traffic that clicks on your pay-per-click ads on Google, Bing or another search engine.

Paid search Google Analytics Channel

Paid Social

Paid social traffic is traffic that clicks on your paid ads on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram.

Paid social Google Analytics channel

Paid Video

Paid video traffic is traffic that clicks on your ads on video sites like YouTube, Vimeo or TikTok.

Paid video Google Analytics channel


Display traffic is traffic that clicks on your display ads on the Google Display Network.

Dynamic remarketing example

How Do I See Channels in Google Analytics?

To see channels in GA4, there are a couple different reports you can visit, but the easiest one to start with is the Traffic Acquisition report. To get there, open Google Analytics and head to the Reports tab, then Acquisition » Traffic Acquisition:

Traffic Acquisition Report in GA4

Once you’re there, scroll down to see the table where all your different channels are:

Traffic Acquisition GA4

In the table, you’ll be able to see how many users you had from each channel, how many sessions, how many of those sessions counted as engaged sessions, how long those users were on your site on average, and more.

Now, you might see a channel that we haven’t gone over yet: Unassigned.

What is Unassigned traffic in GA4?

Unassigned traffic is traffic that doesn’t fit into any of the standard Google Analytics channels. This can be for a variety of different reasons, but it often means you’re using UTM parameters that don’t match any of the standard channels.

For example, do you have a PDF that links to your website that you have tagged with a utm_source of something like “pdf” and a utm_medium of something like “pdf-click”? Google would group that in the Unassigned channel because the source and medium don’t belong to a standard channel.

The best way to combat Unassigned traffic is to use UTM parameters. To learn more about them and how to use them, check out A Beginners Guide to UTM Parameters (And How to Use Them).

Also, make sure to check out MonsterInsights’ built-in UTM link builder tool!

MonsterInsights URL and UTM Builder

How Do I See Channels in WordPress?

If you’re a WordPress user, you’re in luck! There’s a way you can see your Google Analytics channels report right inside your WordPress dashboard. You don’t even have to open Google Analytics! Just install MonsterInsights.

MonsterInsights is the best Google Analytics plugin for WordPress. It allows you to easily connect your WordPress site with Google Analytics so you can view all the data that matters most right in your WordPress dashboard.

MonsterInsights Home Dashboard

Plus, with the click of a button, you can set up sophisticated tracking features such as eCommerce tracking, click tracking, form tracking, custom dimension tracking, video tracking, outbound link tracking, and more.

To see the channels report, you’ll need MonsterInsights at the plus level or above. Once you’ve got it all set up, you’ll see a source/medium report just like this right inside your WordPress dashboard:

For full instructions on installing and setting up MonsterInsights, check out How to Add Google Analytics to WordPress the Right Way (2023).

More Google Analytics Channels FAQ

What’s the Google Analytics Default Channel Grouping?

The Google Analytics Default Channel Grouping is just the default channels that Google Analytics divides your traffic into, like organic, direct, referral, social, and email.

What is the difference between channels and medium in Google Analytics?

Google Analytics channels and medium are similar concepts. In fact, Google uses the medium of your traffic to help lump that traffic into channels! Both are indicators of how your traffic got to your site, whether it was through organic search, a referral link, social media, email, paid advertising or another way. You can tag your traffic with any medium you’d like using UTM parameters, but it’ll only get categorized into a channel if it matches one of the default channels.

That’s it!

We hope you enjoyed our Google Analytics channels guide. If you liked this article, you might also want to check out:

How to Find Google Analytics Referral Traffic Sources (GA4)
What Is Direct Traffic in Google Analytics? (2023 Beginner’s Guide)
How to Set up Google Analytics Social Media Tracking
How to Find Google Ads Reports in Google Analytics (GA4)
How to Set Up Google Analytics Email Tracking (4 Easy Steps)

Not using MonsterInsights yet? What are you waiting for?

And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube for more helpful Google Analytics tips and tutorials.

Want to Try MonsterInsights for Free?

Enter the URL of Your WordPress website to install MonsterInsights Lite.


  1. Thanks for this blog. I just recently launched my website (non-eCommerce) and I’m noticing that the only channel GA-4 is showing me is “Direct” – I don’t see any of the other channels that you described in this blog.

    I assume that’s just because I don’t have any other traffic from the other sources? Or do I need to do something in GA-4 to setup other channels? Thanks in advance for any advice/suggestions. I haven’t really done any promotion of the site yet, just sharing with friends/family, so it’s quite possible I just don’t have any other sources yet – and I just sent out an email with a UTM code to a few friends to click on, so hoping that results in Email showing up as a channel soon.

    1. Hey Scott – Yep, that certainly sounds like what’s happening. So far, everyone’s just typing in your URL to go take a look. I bet the other channels will show up when you start getting more traffic!

  2. I recently upgraded to the pro version of Monster Insights, so I could generate more customized reports with custom date ranges and GA4 compatibility. Google Analytics doesn’t provide me specifically what it used to provide. Or at least in a way that is easy to find.

  3. Thanks a lot for the detailed guide. Have been using Monsterinsights for more than 2 years now and it has been a game changer for us. Our team can keep a track of all important metrics daily and take the right actions when needed. Monsterinsights made the transition from universal tracking to GA4 extremely smooth for us. Thanks a lot for this extremely helpful plugin.

Add a Comment

We're glad you have chosen to leave a comment. Please keep in mind that all comments are moderated according to our privacy policy, and all links are nofollow. Do NOT use keywords in the name field. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation.

This form is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.