Content grouping in Google Analytics 4 is a powerful way to organize and analyze the performance of topic clusters on your site or web shop. If you’re a fan of the marketing adage Content is King, this guide can be the best thing you will read today…

As a warm-up, let’s group the topics of this article in a neat…

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What is content grouping in Google Analytics 4?

Content grouping in Google Analytics 4 allows you to categorize your web pages. For sites and web shops with +100 pages, this opens the door to an efficient analysis of topic groups. You can compare them with each other in the page report and use them as dimensions in explorations.

This is how it can look:

Cool.

However, don’t rush to your account. I want to spare you the disappointment that’s waiting for you there:

By default, the content group in GA4 is not set.

You need to configure content grouping yourself.

Before I explain how to do this, let's take a step back and look at how content is organized on your site.

Prepare GA4 content grouping with these examples

It’s tempting to follow a website structure blindly and use it to define your content groups in GA4.

In reality, though, this can lead to flawed data. And flawed data usually leads to flawed decisions.

I’ll illustrate this with 2 content grouping examples that may help you to be better prepared for what’s ahead.

Example 1: Blog content groups

Topics on blogs and sites are usually grouped inside the CMS (Content Management System).

  • Categories
  • Subcategories
  • Tags

They are the glue that sticks together pages with related content.

On the front, that may look differently. We organized the Data Driven blog as follows:

Content groups of our blog

As you can see, we focus on 4 topics that are vital for data-driven marketers.

Some blogs use category names in the URL. If that’s the case for you, write them down and you can proceed with the rest of this article.

However, if your URLs don’t contain the category names, things get a bit more challenging.

You will have to divide your web pages into groups based on keywords in the URL. Technically speaking, Google uses page path, but let’s keep it simple for now.

Posts with Google Analytics 4 and GA4 in the URL obviously belong to the same topic cluster. But they are different words.

That makes it easier to miss nuances when your site has hundreds or thousands of pages.

Example 2: content groups on web shops

The fastest way to define content groups for web shops is to use the product categories.

Imagine you run an online shop in the Chindogu niche. For sure, you have seen what that means during a scrolling session on social media.

Image credit: http://chindogu.com/

Side note: The moment you sell one of the useless, yet useful, famous Japanese inventions, it is no longer Chindogu, as is stipulated in its 5th law.

The content groups of your online store may look as follows:

E-commerce content groups are usually product categories

Easy-peasy to use this structure.

There is, however, one problem with doing so…

Limitations of GA4 content grouping

GA4 content grouping has 3 limitations. The first one may disappear and that would be great news. The others will probably stay, but that’s not necessarily bad news.

Limitation 1: only 1 GA4 content group

Currently, you can only set up 1 content grouping in GA4, whereas in Universal Analytics, you can add 5 content groups.

Content grouping settings
Content grouping in UA

This has an impact on sites with lots of categories.

You will need to think about which content groups are most vital for your business. That can be different from the amount of traffic generated by your content.

Popular website content may be different from content that generates revenue.

For e-commerce sites, the monetization report may give you the insights you need.

Limitation 2: page paths

GA4 needs to know which page paths you will use to group your content.

A Page Path is a part of a full URL

The problem is that a page path sometimes doesn’t reveal that the post can belong to different content groups.

For instance, custom dimensions in GA4, covers both GA4 and Google Tag Manager, but that’s not visible in the page path:

In cases like this, you will need to make strategic decisions.

  • Include pages in one group only?
  • Or allow pages to belong to multiple content groups?

Limitation 3: no retroactive content grouping

GA4 starts showing content groups 24 hours after you have set it up. It only shows content grouping data from that day onwards.

If you plan to use this feature in the future, it is best to install it ASAP.

Or even better: now.

  • Make sure you have defined the most important content groups.
  • Keep this page open in your browser. It will serve as your manual.
  • Open your Google Tag Manager for your property in another tab.

Ready?

Here we go.

How to set up content grouping in GA4?

You can set up content grouping in GA4 with Google Tag Manager (GTM). There are 2 major steps. The screenshots will guide you through this mission.

Step 1: Create a User Defined Content Group Variable

Step 1.1: Open Variables.

In your GTM account, you can find the variables in the menu on the left.

Step 1.2: Create a New User-defined variable.

Click on the New button. You may need to scroll down the page until you see this:

Step 1.3: Go to Variable Configuration > Regex Table.

Step 1.4: Rename your variable to Content Group.

Keep the uppercase and lowercase to prevent unnecessary troubleshooting later on.

Step 1.5: Select {{Page Path}} in the Input Variable field.

Step 1.6: Click on Add Row

Step 1.7: Enter Page Path values and the corresponding Output field.

For Page Path, you can use the pipeline symbol | as in the image below.

You can also enter words separated with hyphens.

Or words.

Enter a descriptive name in the Output field. This will show up in your GA4 Page report and explorations.

Step 1.8: Check Default Value and give it a name

All content that doesn’t fit in one of the rows of your regex variable configuration will belong to the default content group.

Give the group a descriptive name, such as Other, Mixed or Diverse.

Step 1.9: Configure the Advanced Settings

Check Ignore case to make sure that page paths with capital letters are included in your groups.

Clear the other two options.

Step 1.10: Hit the Save button

You can find the blue button in the top right corner. After you click it, you will see this:

Step 2: Add your content group variable to the GA4 tag

Step 2.1: Open your GA4 Configuration tag.

In GTM, click on Tags in the left menu and then click on GA4 configuration.

Step 2.2: Copy your GA4 measurement id

You will need this in the next steps.

Step 2.3: Choose GA4 Configuration

Click on GA4 configuration to open a panel with all the tags. Here, click again on GA4 configuration.

Step 2.4: Paste your GA4 measurement id

Step 2.5: Click on Add Row in Fields to set

Step 2.6: Fill in the Field Name and Value

Copy these exact values for the fields and then paste them in your GTM fields.

  • Field Name: content_group
  • Value: {{Content Group}}

Step 2.7: Save your tag

You can find the save button at the right top of your tag configuration screen.

Step 2.8: Submit your GTM container

Now you are all set.

How to access content grouping in GA4?

You can access the content groups in your GA4 property at two different places: Page and Screens Report and Explorations.

Content groups in GA4 reports

Navigate as follows: Reports > Engagement > Pages and Screens > Content Grouping.

Alternatively, follow the visual path on this image to unlock access to the content groups.

Content group dimension in GA4 Explorations

You can use content groups as dimensions in GA4 Explorations.

Just add them as a dimension and then drag them from the Variables column to the Tab settings, as illustrated below:

How can GA4 content grouping be useful to you?

Depending on your content, the way you group it and your specific GA4 configuration, content grouping can provide global insights into your content marketing efforts:

  • Which content group drives more traffic?
  • In what topic do we need to invest more / less?
  • Does our current content reflect our business model?
  • Is there a (mis)match between our website content and our best-selling products?

Summary: content grouping Google Analytics 4

  • Content grouping in Google Analytics 4 is useful for sites and web shops that have over 100 web pages.
  • The default content group in GA4 is not set. You need to configure them yourself.
  • GA4 uses page paths to group pages into categories. You can assign content to multiple groups if you want to.
  • To set up content grouping, you need to use Google Tag Manager and follow the instructions above.
  • 24 hours after you have set up content grouping, you can access the data in Explorations and the Page and Screens report.
  • Content grouping doesn’t work retroactively.
  • Currently, there is only one content group in GA4. To make the best possible use of it, apply it to your most valuable content. That can be different from your most popular webpages. Think in terms of monetizing and revenue in relation to your content.

Thank you for reading this content about… content grouping. You can find us on YouTube. I promise it will be more rewarding for your career as a data driven marketer than watching content on popular streaming platforms.

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