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What are GA4 Explorations and How to Use Them

What are GA4 Explorations and How to Use Them

In the old version of Google Analytics, to create a custom report, you had to go to the Customization Section and build it under Custom report. However, with GA4 analytics things are different.

Now, if you want to dive deeper into your data, you will have to go to the Explore Section, which is one of the most important areas in the entire platform. It allows you to build powerful GA4 custom reports and get the information you’re looking for.

The Exploration Reports also go beyond the standard “pre-built” reports available in GA4. In fact, Universal Analytics provided approximately 25 standard reports, whereas Google Analytics 4 offers only three.

In this article, we’ll be talking about what the new Explorations Reports are, the different types available, and how they are used. By the end, you’ll have the necessary knowledge to start exploring in-depth and creating your own customized reports in GA4. So, keep on reading!

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What Are GA4 Explorations?

The GA4 Explorations or Exploration Reports offer a new, user-friendly drag-and-drop interface and an adaptable reporting style. By utilizing segments, dimensions and metrics, you can have the answers to any business inquiries you might have.

  • Segments. By creating segments, you can focus on analyzing particular groups of users or sessions, gaining insights tailored to those specific segments. For instance new visitors or mobile traffic.
  • Dimensions. Dimensions are attributes or characteristics of data that provide additional context and categorization such as page URL.
  • Metrics. These are quantitative measurements such as number of sessions, pageviews, eCommerce conversion rates, etc.

Here is where to find the Explore Section:

What Are GA4 Explorations

Types of Exploration Reports

Once you are in the Explore Section you will find a few available methods (templates) that can be used to analyze your data:

  • Free-form Exploration. Creates a table and visualizes it using pie charts, bar charts, scatter plots, and line charts.
  • Funnel Exploration. Visualizes the steps involved in completing an action on your website.
  • Path Exploration. Explores the paths user journeys take.
  • Segment Overlap. It showcases the relationship between audience segments through a Venn diagram.
  • User Explorer. This report provides detailed information about users in a specific segment and allows for in-depth analysis of user activity.
  • Cohort Exploration. Provides insights into the behavior of specific user groups connected by shared attributes.
  • User Lifetime. Enables you to explore the lifetime value of your customers.

Types of Exploration Reports

How to Create an Exploration Report?

Regardless of the method you choose, the GA4 interface organizes it into three columns: variables, settings, and the actual output of your configuration. Begin by specifying the data range and proceed from there.


The Variable column includes the essential elements you want to put in your exploration. You start by adding segments. Then, Google Analytic 4 offers a variety of dimension options (accessible with a + sign). The same applies to metrics, giving you a wide range of choices. To summarize the actions:

  • Name your report.
  • Select the time range.
  • Build segments of users to analyze.
  • Add dimensions and metrics.

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Settings (Tab Settings)

In one report, you can have various exploration types with separate settings tabs. The chosen exploration template determines the differing settings. You can select your preferred visualization type, choose segments from the variables column, add additional dimensions (e.g., city), and include relevant metrics under Values (e.g., active users per city). In general in this section you can:

  • Switch between templates (techniques).
  • Choose the visualization type for your report.
  • Apply and compare segments.
  • Add dimensions and metrics to column, rows, values, axes.
  • Create filters.
  • Specify funnel steps.
  • Specify first and repeat action, and more.


The data report is showing on the third column. It is almost identical across all reports. Here you can:

  • Add more reports to your exploration.
  • Share the reports in read-only mode.
  • Export the reports in different formats.
  • Undo/Redo changes.
  • Apply the filter or create the segment and Ads audiences.


How to Use GA4 Explorations?

You don’t need to switch between different types of reports unless necessary. Each technique can be utilized in specific cases.

Let’s go through each of these reports with examples of the different situations where they can be helpful.

Free Form Explorations

Free Forms are probably the type of Exploration Reports used most.. They allow you to order and arrange data in various visualization formats, including tables and graphs.

By adding multiple dimensions and metrics to a single report,you can also quickly and easily make comparisons as well as delve into analysis by applying filters and/or segments.

When to use:

  • If you want a quick answer to simple day-to-day analytics questions.
  • When you need to effectively convey a compelling narrative and capture attention with well-visualized data.
  • When analyzing comparable dimensions to identify areas of similarity or potential differences.

Funnel Explorations

Funnel Explorations offer a dynamic and interactive visualization of user-defined steps. This provides insight into the success and failure rates of each stage of a defined process. Furthermore, it enables users to create segments and audiences based on specific data points.

When to use:

  • In case you want to identify points of user drop-off within specific form or purchase/check-out flows, and generate a retargeting audience based on this information.
  • If you want to identify the users who have successfully completed specific forms or purchase/check-out flows.
  • When you want to analyze the impact of different flow optimization practices.

Path Explorations

GA4 Path Exploration analyzes the journey of visitors on websites or apps. It provides insights into the pages or screens that users navigate through, helping you better understand and identify key touchpoints and user behavior. These explorations can also uncover valuable patterns that will optimize the user experience for better conversions.

When to use:

  • When you want to detect possible instances of repetitive behaviors among your customers as this may cause confusion or navigation challenges.
  • Identify potential events or pages that influence user outcomes positively or negatively.
  • When analyzing comparable dimensions to identify areas of similarity or potential differences.

Segment Overlap

Segment Overlap refers to the analysis of the intersection between different segments. It allows you to understand the commonalities and differences among segments, uncovering insights about user behavior and preferences.

When to use:

  • When you want to check which user segments make a greater contribution to a specific and identified conversion.
  • If you need to know more about how different segments overlap with one another.

User Explorer

This feature allows you to dive into individual user behavior. It provides a comprehensive view of user interactions, including pageviews, events, and conversions. User Explorer helps identify patterns, identify user preferences, and personalize experiences to enhance engagement and conversions.

When to use:

  • When you want to recieve better understanding where users possibly experienced issues like placing orders or completing a form.
  • To enhance the capability for user personalization and encourage engagement.

User Explorer

Cohort Explorations

Cohort Explorations help to analyze and compare groups of users with shared characteristics over a specific time period. This feature shows trends, patterns, and insights related to user behavior, retention, and conversion rates.

When to use:

  • If you wish to identify user responses to specific campaigns and track their engagement over time, cohort explorations can provide valuable insight.
  • When you have to analyze the factors that have potentially contributed to a higher level of user engagement in one group compared to others.

User Lifetime

User Lifetime refers to the duration of a user’s engagement with a website or app. It encompasses the entire span of a user’s interactions, from the first visit to the most recent activity.

When to use:

  • If you need insights into user retention, behavior patterns, and their value to the business.
  • When you need help with determining what events lead to higher user lifetime value.
  • For more informed spend decisions when it comes to active campaigns.

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GA4 Explore Limitations

Like any tool in the Google Analytics arsenal, GA4 does have a few limitations that are important to keep in mind.

  • Up to 200 individual explorations per user per Google Analytics 4 property.
  • Up to 500 shared explorations per property.
  • Up to 10 segments per exploration.
  • Up to 10 filters per tab.

Fortunately though the limitations are minor, and shouldn’t affect your GA4 experience.

Wrap Up

As a final thought, it’s important to remember that GA4 Explorations go beyond standard reports.

In fact, your business will not only unlock valuable insights into user behavior, segment analysis, and campaign optimization but thanks to them you can confidently navigate the digital landscape, paving the way to marketing success.

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