The Ultimate Guide to Custom Google Analytics Report in GA4

Table of Contents

Navigating through the features of GA4, the ultimate guide provides critical insights into how to create optimal google analytics reports, from establishing your first custom report to leveraging advanced features.

As we delve into this guide, we’ll unravel how to utilize the google analytics report template effectively and explore various visualization options to garner deeper analytics insights, all while adhering to stringent data privacy guidelines.

Understanding the Basics of GA4 Custom Reports

Custom reports in Google Analytics 4 (GA4) are a powerful way to tailor data analysis to your specific business needs. These reports are crafted using the “Explorations” feature, which provides a flexible environment for deep data exploration. Here’s a breakdown of the main components involved in creating GA4 custom reports:

  • Variables: These form the foundation of your custom report and include segments, dimensions, and metrics. Variables define the data you want to analyze, such as user demographics or behavior.
  • Tab Settings: This component dictates the application of data within the report. It allows you to configure how the variables interact, affecting the presentation and organization of the analyzed data.
  • Output (report): The final report is the visual representation of your analysis, generated based on the configurations set in the Variables and Tab Settings. This can include a variety of charts and tables, providing a clear view of the data.

GA4 offers different types of Explorations to suit various analytical needs:

  • Free Form Explorations: Enable the building of custom reports from the ground up, based on specific requirements. They allow for the selection of variables, adjustment of tab settings, and customization of the output.
  • Funnel Explorations: These are invaluable for analyzing user journeys through a series of steps, helping to understand flow and identify where users drop off.
  • Path Exploration: Focuses on user navigation through your website or app, revealing the paths taken after certain actions are completed.

Creating a GA4 custom report can be approached in several ways:

  1. Using Templates or Starting from Scratch:
    • Templates provide a starting point with pre-configured settings, which can be unlinked to prevent automatic updates.
    • Starting from scratch allows for full customization, enabling you to build a report that meets your exact specifications.
  2. Customization Options:
    • Dimensions and Metrics: Choose the specific data points you want to analyze.
    • Filters: Apply conditions to refine the data included in your report.
    • Charts: Select from various visualization options to best represent your data.
  3. Building Custom Reports:
    • Free Form Explorations: Add up to 4 segments for comparison, customize rows and columns using dimensions, and apply metrics to add values.
    • Funnel Explorations: Define funnel steps with conditions and set a maximum time difference to track user progression.
    • Path Explorations: Opt to view unique nodes or include all subsequent events, with breakdowns added using dimensions and values displayed using metrics.

To create a report tailored to specific data views, such as a Device Category Report, you can start from a current report, adjust the desired dimension, and complete the process in under 30 seconds. Alternatively, you can craft a custom report from scratch in the Library section by selecting ‘Create new report’ and choosing a template or starting with a blank canvas.

For instance, to analyze traffic from specific pages, you can create a report in Explore, add a Session segment for the traffic source, Landing page for dimensions, and Entrances for metrics. To focus on particular content, such as Spanish pages, use the Matches regex filter with the unique URL component separated by “|” to signify ‘or’.

By understanding these basics, you are well equipped to start tapping into the full potential of GA4 custom reports to achieve desired goals and make data-driven decisions.

Setting Up Your First Custom Report

To set up your first custom report in Google Analytics 4 (GA4), follow these actionable steps:

Initiating Custom Report Creation

  1. Navigate to Reports > Library in the GA4 interface.
  2. Click on + Create new report and select Create overview report to begin.

Customizing Your Report

  • Add Summary Cards: Click on + Add cards to include up to 16 summary cards for different metrics or dimensions.
  • Organize Cards: Simply drag and drop the summary cards to arrange them according to your preference.
  • Remove Cards: To delete a card, click on the right side of the card you wish to remove.

Saving and Using the Report

  • After customizing, click Save and enter a descriptive name for your report, then click Save again to finalize.
  • Your custom report can be accessed by adding it to a collection under the reports section on the left column of the GA4 interface.

For those who prefer to start with a blank slate:

  1. In the Library section, click on Create new report followed by Create detail report.
  2. Choose to start from a template or select blank for full customization.
  3. Set your desired dimension as default, ensuring it is available in the ‘Dimensions’ section or added by typing it in the bottom.
  4. Add metrics by clicking on ‘Add Metric’ and selecting from the list, or remove them using the drop-down arrow next to the metric and selecting ‘Remove’.
  5. To refine your data, add a filter in the ‘Report Filter’ section.

Additional Customization Features

  • Edit Output Options: Utilize start over, undo, redo, share, and download options directly within the Output (report).
  • Change Sorting: Click on a metric label in the Output to alter the sorting order.
  • Cell Options: Right-click on a cell in the Output for additional functionalities.

Remember, this process can be completed in under 30 seconds and tailored to specific needs, such as creating an SEO Landing Pages report. By following these steps, you will have a custom report that provides the insights necessary to drive data-driven decisions.

Advanced Custom Report Features

Advanced Custom Report Features in GA4 offer an array of options for users to delve deeper into data analysis and visualization. These features allow for the creation of highly tailored reports that can adapt to the dynamic needs of businesses and provide comprehensive insights.

Detailed Customization of Reports:

  • Dimensions and Metrics: Users can add up to 12 metrics to a detail report, ensuring a multifaceted view of data. The ability to set a default metric for sorting enhances the user’s control over data analysis priorities.
  • Report Filters: Custom reports can be fine-tuned by saving report filters that focus on specific data subsets, allowing users to drill down into the most relevant information for their analysis.
  • Chart Customization: The first half of a detail report presents charts that users can customize or choose to hide. Options include changing chart types and adjusting their order to best fit the data narrative.

Report Templates and Updates:

  • Template-Based Reports: When users base their reports on a report template, these reports will automatically receive updates if Google changes the report template. This ensures that the reports remain current with the latest analytical methodologies.
  • Unlinking Reports: For a more static approach, reports can be unlinked from their templates to stop receiving updates. This feature is beneficial for maintaining consistent historical data analysis without the influence of template changes.

Permissions and Organizational Features:

  • Access Control: Customizing detail reports, adding filters, and unlinking reports are actions that require editor or administrator permissions, safeguarding the integrity of data analysis.
  • Report Collections: Users with the necessary permissions can organize GA4 custom reports into collections and topics within the report navigation. Each property can host up to 7 collections, which are displayed alphabetically for easy access.
  • Publication of Collections: To make a collection available to all users with access to the Analytics property, it must be published. This feature promotes collaboration and shared insights across teams.

GA4’s Explorations feature, formerly known as Custom Reports, provides a robust environment for creating detailed and customizable reports. With the ability to track up to 300 events per property and organize reports into collections, GA4 enhances the user’s ability to conduct thorough and precise data analysis. The interface’s division into Home, Reports, Explorations, and Administration sections streamlines navigation and improves user experience. Enhanced Cross-Platform Tracking offers a unified view of user interactions, making GA4 an indispensable tool for modern data-driven businesses.

Common Mistakes and Troubleshooting Tips

When creating custom reports in Google Analytics 4 (GA4), certain common mistakes can lead to inaccurate data and hinder the effectiveness of your analytics efforts. To ensure the integrity of your data and the usefulness of your reports, be mindful of the following pitfalls and troubleshooting tips:

Currency Parameters and Technical Debt

  • Currency Parameters: Always include a currency parameter with every purchase event to maintain consistency in financial reporting, even if you only operate in one currency.
    • The currency parameter must adhere to ISO standards (e.g., USD, EUR) and should be used without currency symbols to avoid confusion.
  • Collect Universal Analytics Events: Be cautious when using the Collect Universal Analytics Events feature, as it can transfer GA3 technical debt to GA4. This may result in a loss of control over your data and potential data pollution. Rethink naming conventions for a cleaner transition to GA4.

Debugging and Event Parameters

  • Debug Mode: Limit the use of the debug_mode parameter to the necessary instances for debugging. Having all visitors send this parameter can complicate the debugging process in DebugView.
  • Custom Events: Custom events sent to GA4 will appear in reports automatically. Avoid duplicating them, which can lead to unnecessary complexity in your data.

Data Retention and Property Management

  • Data Retention: The default data retention for explorations is 2 months. Extend it to 14 months for longer access to historical data, which is crucial for in-depth analysis.
  • Separate Properties: Use distinct GA4 properties for live and test versions of your website. This prevents data pollution and ensures that your live data remains accurate.

Traffic and Referral Exclusions

  • Internal Traffic: Exclude internal traffic and unwanted referrals to enhance the quality of your data. This is essential for accurate decision-making.
    • For single-page applications, ensure that the Event settings variable is configured correctly so that parameter values update with each tag fire.
  • Referral Domains: Identify and exclude unwanted referral domains by creating conditions that filter out irrelevant traffic, thereby improving data accuracy.

Integration and Configuration

  • Integration: Don’t overlook the integration with other Google tools such as Google Ads, Google Optimize, or BigQuery. These connections allow for more comprehensive data analysis and deeper insights.
  • Correct Setup: An incorrect setup can lead to incomplete or inaccurate data. Follow the documentation meticulously for proper implementation, and check for case sensitivity in any customizations made to the gtag.
  • Enhanced Measurement: Utilize enhanced measurement features to track automatically collected events and interactions, avoiding missed opportunities for data capture.

Custom Dimensions and Filters

  • Custom Dimensions: Be aware of the limit of 50 custom dimensions per property in GA4. Using too many unique event parameter names can be detrimental to your data organization.
  • Filters: Implement filters wisely to include or exclude specific data from reports. Neglecting filter configuration can result in skewed analytics data.

By avoiding these common mistakes and applying the troubleshooting tips provided, you can ensure that your GA4 custom reports are both accurate and insightful, ultimately aiding in strategic decision-making for your business.


Drawing together the insights of this guide, we understand the pivotal role GA4 custom reports play in sculpting data to reveal actionable business intelligence. Through careful customization of variables, diligent application of filters and the adept use of the various exploration options, GA4 allows us to navigate our vast data landscapes with precision, always aligned with our unique analytical requirements. The profound implications of these capabilities extend beyond mere data analysis, catalyzing informed decisions that propel businesses forward in a fiercely competitive digital environment.

In harnessing the power of GA4’s customizable features, your journey towards data mastery becomes more intuitive and insightful. Whether refining your marketing strategies, honing operational efficiency, or forecasting trends, these advanced analytical tools offer a clearer vision for your enterprise’s trajectory. For those eager to evolve their analytics prowess, consider exploring GA4’s custom report suite and elevate your data-driven decision making to new heights.