New to GA4: Introducing the Path Exploration report

What is the GA4 Path Exploration report?

See how website visitors are using your website or app, you'll be able to see what kind of events and/or pages occurred first and when clicking on a certain branch, you can then see what pages and/or events occurred after that.

Where can you locate the report?


Navigate to the analysis section on the left-hand side and click on the analysis hub. 


There are two options for creating path analysis graphs - blank and pre-configured.

For the purposes of this tutorial, we will click on the blank tab and then choose path exploration from the drop-down menu above ‘All Users'.

Google Analytics 4 Path Exploration Report User Interface



There are three main parts to the reporting interface: variables, tab settings and the output section of the report (look from left to right).


Variables 


Segments - In the variables section you can add segments to your report such as traffic source (direct, paid, mobile, tablet etc) 


Dimensions - This allows you to break down data by demographics, device category etc


Metrics - Only three metrics are allowed; active users, event count, total users


Tab settings 


This section is responsible for the visualisation of the report interface. Let’s say you wanted to segment the report by people recently on your website. You would drag the ‘recently active users’ tab from the variables section and drag it into the ‘segment’ section in the tab settings.


Node Type - This affects what type of data you will see for every node. Below you can see that the event name is the current node type which will allow us to see what kind of events are happening. Once you click on a node such as ‘session start’ you will go a layer deeper and see what events happened after the session started.


View Unique Nodes Only - If this is enabled it will stop identical consecutive events from being shown in the graph. An example of when this is good to use if if someone is scrolling through a page and you do not with to see 3 different path events of them scrolling as it is no give any useful additional data.  


Breakdown -  You can put additional dimensions in this section to break down the data even further. For example, if you put device category, you could break the data down into mobile, desktop and tablet users.


Filter - You can put tabs in here such as device category and then filter your data so it only shows users who are using a desktop, laptop etc 


Node Filters - This section allows you to exclude nodes by right clicking on the nodes and pressing exclude. The excluded node will then appear in the node filter section 


Start Over - This button allows you to start your analysis from the start or end of a users journey 

Google Analytics 4 User Interface and Dashboard




How you can use Path Analysis?


Begin Checkout

An example of when to use this would be when you want to analyse the customer journey after they begin checkout. Let’s say that you activate the ‘view unique modes only’ setting. If you start to see multiple ‘begin checkout’ nodes then you can determine that there is either something wrong with the tracking implementation (GA4 does not automatically track certain events as check out started, this is set up through GTM) or users may need to refresh the page a couple of times. 

Google Analytics 4 Path Exploration Breakdown


You would then need to jump on the website you are analysing and do some investigation. Start the checkout process and enable developers tools on your browser to analyse the console. To view events in the console you can use a plugin called ‘data layer inspector’ by ADSWERVE.


Below we can see that 4 consecutive begin checkouts events have been triggered and sent to all the same tracking ID. This means that tracking implementation is set up incorrectly which we discovered due to path analysis.


Billing and shipping confirmation GA4 Analysis




Finding The Source Of An Error

If you are tracking error events (which needs to be set up by a GTM team) then you can work backwards and establish where the errors are coming from. Below you can see the backwards flow from the error. As we can page view and errors have very similar numbers, this is because errors is tracking 404 errors pages. Once we click again we can see another page that is unavailable. This shows us that there is a page with a broken leak that is leading to these pages being unavailable. To find out change the ‘event name’ to ‘page title and screen name’.


And then by going one step backwards we can see that most of the page views that occur before the 404 error are coming from the homepage.


If you want to find out exactly what pages have led to an error you can use the ‘page path’ tab in the dimensions sections on the left and then drag it into the ‘breakdown’ section. This will allow you to hover over the ‘page unavailable’ node and establish the most popular pages which are unavailable. 

GA4 User Interface and Dashboard for path exploration report


If you want to find out exactly what pages have led to an error you can use the ‘page path’ tab in the dimensions sections on the left and then drag it into the ‘breakdown’ section. This will allow you to hover over the ‘page unavailable’ node and establish the most popular pages which are unavailable. 

GA4 User Interface and Dashboard for path exploration report

 

To find out what is wrong with the page you quill need to navigate to your website and go to your homepage as this is the page where most people are using to then land on the unavailable page. 


Right-click and press ‘inspect’ to bring up the console. Click ‘ctrl f’ and then enter part of the URL that was visible in the report. 


Part of the data will then be highlighted with the part that contains the URL.  In the example below, it looks like the ‘shop now’ button is the cause of the errors as it has a broken link. Click on the ‘shop now’ button and if you are met with a page unavailable then you have established where the error is coming from and you can now get in contact with your web dev to fix it. 

GA4 User Interface and Dashboard for path exploration report


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