How to Use Google Analytics 4 – Get Content Marketing Success

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Content marketing is an effective way to attract and retain customers. It does take time and resources, but it delivers more valuable traffic and builds your authority in the long run. And it’s finely targeted as well, allowing you to reach customers at every stage in their journey.

To get lucrative results from your content efforts, you need extensive knowledge of your consumers. Where are they looking for information, what kinds of searches are they doing, and what devices do they use? More data means greater knowledge of your customers, helping you make informed decisions that drive revenue and contribute to profits.

So where do you get all that data?

For the last decade, most of us have been getting it from Universal Analytics (UA), but its looming demise means everyone will have to shift to Google Analytics 4 (GA4).

If you’ve already made the switch, you may have noticed that the interface is quite different from Universal Analytics. Don’t worry, GA4 actually makes analyzing your website data easier and more manageable than UA, once you get the hang of it.

In this article we’ll explore the key changes in GA4 that impact your marketing data, and to effectively use GA4 for content marketing success.

What Makes GA4 Better than Universal Analytics?

Google Analytics 4 showcases the next level of web analytics. Unlike Universal Analytics (formerly known simply as ‘Google Analytics’), GA4 provides automated insights and more accurate data.

GA4 is smarter than its predecessor, allowing you to track a user’s engagement with your content across multiple devices. This wasn’t possible in Universal Analytics, you’d have to download a different version of GA to consolidate separate datastreams coming from apps and websites.

GA4 also allows you to customize data, with a variety of useful and efficient views. Google uses an enhanced machine learning technology, which helps content marketers and creators not just collect but also predict new insights easily.

Another major change is that GA4 is built around events. In Universal Analytics, website activities are primarily tracked based on sessions and pageviews. With events-driven data, you can get the same data with further added metrics like engagement time and engaged session per user.

The best part is that GA4 adds a bundle of excellent default events upon configuration, so even if you’re not confident in using Google Tag Manager to create custom events you’ll still have useful data. With Universal Analytics, you had to create every event you wanted tracked.

You can further set events into anything from add to cart, product click, scrolls, pageview to video views, downloads, shares, sign-ups and more.

This new model also enables GA4 to track users’ behavior as they perform an event, rather than waiting for a user to enter a new page to calculate the metric from the page they just left. This aspect is risky, as there’s a potential to lose the data if the user decides to close the browser or leave the site.

Key Differences Between GA4 and UA 

1. Mobile Device Tracking

With Universal Analytics, you had to use different versions of GA to see data on users coming from mobile apps vs. websites. GA4 tracks data from mobile (Android and iOS) and web apps and websites and displays it all in one interface.

2. Data Model

Google Analytics draws data from multiple sources; to clearly view and analyze the data, it all has to be unified, so Google added events.

The addition of events enables you to track and measure particular user interactions, no matter what they’re using: the web or app. You also have the option to set a number of events, such as when a user clicks a link, loads a page, or completes a checkout.

3. Pathways

Pathways give you a clear view of the customer journey so that you can better understand how they interact with your site. This also shows how users navigate your website pages. You can easily see how people access your site, what page attracted a user, and where they went before they converted or exited your site.

With this data, you can then create a hypothesis that you can use to improve or change those steps and improve the user experience.

4. GA4 Reports and Explorations

Reports have always existed in Google Analytics. But with GA4, they’re easier to understand and it’s easier to create a custom report. Unlike Universal Analytics, GA4 comes configured with multiple reports that pull the data marketers are most often interested in seeing.

Using GA4 to Build Your Content Marketing Strategy

Now let’s talk about how to use the power of GA4 to drive content marketing results.

1. Define Your Goals

Producing content without a clear goal won’t do much for your website or your business. Simply publishing content and hoping it will earn traffic is not a strategy.

You must know the purpose of each piece of content you create, and how it ties to the bigger business picture. This means devising well-defined goals.

Some measurable content marketing goals to think about:

  • Improve average engagement time or the average time your webpage was in a visitor’s focus
  • Increase organic traffic
  • Increase online conversions (sign-ups or sales)
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Increase backlinks
  • Boost ROI

Once you’ve chosen a goal, you can create a content plan. Any piece of content found on your site should be rooted in your expertise and niche, intended to help a potential customer or client solve a problem. This should always be the basis for your topics.

For example, if you own an auto repair shop, focus on articles that are relevant and helpful to your customers, such as how to improve car performance, tips on car maintenance, or signs of specific problems.

Google’s Helpful Content update has guiding questions you can use to determine authority and focus, including:

  • Is the content in any way connected to your site’s main purpose? Is it aligned with your brand?
  • Will the content be written by someone who’s an expert in the field or has first-hand experience on the matter?

2. Analyze Your Audience

Understanding your audience goes beyond identifying their demographics. That kind of data is useful for targeting ads, but websites don’t work the same way. Website audiences are better defined by their pain points.

You can learn more about your readers by checking the comments they leave on your site, or go above and beyond by checking reviews and comments about your competitors. You can also learn about them through Google Analytics 4 data.

A feature in GA4 called User Metric lets you see the total number of users that visited and engaged with which content on your site. You can also see if they used a website or an app to access it, allowing you to optimize your content strategy based on data.

This helps you see if your existing content gives enough value to keep your visitors hooked. And you’ll see how readers interact with the content.

A metric you also need to keep tabs on is Views by Page. This metric shows you which of your pages have the highest traffic and views. Use this data to discover which content your audience finds the most interesting and useful, so you can attempt to recreate that success.

For example, if the highest-performing post on your car repair shop website is about auto maintenance, your users likely want to learn more about keeping their vehicles in good condition. They are likely also interested in other tips for saving money and preventing unexpected expenses.

The data from GA4 not only gives insight on what information tracks well with your users, but also provides you with ideas for future topics.

3. List Your Target Keywords

Keywords are important in content creation because they help your content reach its target audience. Choosing the right keywords also helps search engines understand what the page is about, so they can rank it properly.

Having the right keywords will help you publish better-targeted content or content that matches your target user’s search intent.

This is why keyword research for content marketing is important. Learning how to find keywords is a crucial part of the process. There are different ways to help you find keywords by yourself if you’re not thinking about using a content marketing agency.

  • Use Google’s Keyword Planner: Even though this is made for Google’s paid ads, it can also be used for general keyword research. It’s a free tool and all you need to do is have a Google Ads account.
  • Use a free or trial version of an SEO tool like SEMRush, Ahrefs, or Moz.
  • Connect Google Search Console to GA4 and enjoy keyword data right in your analytics interface

Google Search Console isn’t a keyword research tool but it can be useful if you already have existing content on your site.

Once connected to GA4, you can easily check the top queries you’re ranking for and the page that’s ranking for that keyword.

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