Understanding Entrances in Google Analytics

Do you know how many times visitors entered your site on a certain page or screen? If not, you definitely need to keep an eye on entrances in GA4. Knowing where visitors actually start their journey on your site will help you optimize the performance of your different marketing campaigns. Are you ready to enter a new world of insights?

Highlights

  • GA4 entrances are a metric that help you quickly detect on which pages visitors start a session on your site.
  • Entrances are different from landing pages, pageviews and sessions.
  • The GA4 entrance metric is useful for several reasons.
  • To see it, you need to build an exploration report.

What are entrances in Google Analytics 4, anyway?

Entrances in GA4 are a metric that shows you how many times visitors started a session on a particular page or screen. Every time someone starts a session, the entrance metric for the page or screen is incremented. 

So, entrances are where the user starts their journey on your website. The page through which they entered—their entrance—marks the beginning of this journey.

An entrance source drives a user to your site. Entrance sources can be paid campaigns, social media posts, or other external sources linked to your site.

A popular kind of entrance source is an entrance keyword. This is an organic or PPC search that a user makes before landing on your website. For example, a Google search of “best BBQ in Albany” contains several entrance keywords that can cause users to land on a specific page, creating an entrance.

Remember, though, it’s easy to mix this up with other terms, such as 

  • Landing pages
  • Pageviews 
  • Sessions

Let’s clear out things to make sure we are on the same page.

What’s the difference between entrances and landing pages in GA4?

A landing page is the page or screen where your visitors enter your site. It contains the page path and query string. You can use this as a dimension in your reports. Entrances on the other hand refer to the amount of times that happens during a certain period of time. 

GA4 contains a landing page report, but doesn’t have a pre-built entrance report. Further below I will show you below how to build one.

What’s the difference between entrances and pageviews in GA4?

Google Analytics registers a pageview every time a page loads on your website and the GA code is executed. The number of views a page gets on your site makes up the pageview metric. This differs from an entrance because it doesn’t have to be the first page your user visits. Your Analytics account will register any page a user visits during a session as a pageview.

What’s the difference between sessions and entrances in GA4?

Every session of a visitor, the entrance metric for a page or screen increments. However, this doesn’t mean that entrances and sessions are the same thing. To understand the differences, let’s have a closer look at sessions. 

Google Analytics counts a session as whenever a user visits your website. It will record all the pages they visit and events they trigger as a single session unless they are inactive for over 30 minutes. If they reach the 30-minute inactivity limit, once they engage with your site again, Analytics will record it as a new session.

Please note that you can adjust the default session period in GA4 in the settings of your data stream.

Let’s look at an example for entrances. If a user lands on page A on your site, and then moves to page B, and then leaves, Google Analytics records that data like this:

Page A: 1 entrance, 1 pageview, 1 session

Page B: 0 entrances, 1 pageview, 0 sessions

As you can see, only page A registered as an entrance because that was the original point of access for your website.

Now it’s clear what entrances are, and what they are not, let’s look at what you can do with this metric.

Why Are Entrances Helpful?

People have controversial views of entrances. Some argue that entrances are just as fickle a metric as bounce rate. On the other hand, some argue that entrances are vital to their marketing, but as is often the case the usefulness of entrances will depend on your website and marketing goals.

If you're running SEO campaigns, entrances can be particularly helpful since they can show you which pages are bringing the most visits to your site and therefore which pages are ranking the best. They can also tell you the opposite and help you identify your weakest pages.

How to Find Entrances In Google Analytics 4?

To see entrances in Google Analytics 4, you have to configure an exploration. These are the steps you need to take:

Step 1: Open Explorations

Click “Explore” in the menu on the left-hand side.

Step 2: Create a blank form exploration

There are different exploration templates. Click the one that says “Blank”.

Step 3: Give your exploration a name

In the variable panel, fill in a name for your report. Use “Entrances” or something similar that helps you quickly find the report later on in your GA4 explorations.

Step 4: Click on the + sign of Dimensions

Since you build the entrance report from scratch, you first need to add a dimension to it.

Step 5: Select a Page / Screen dimension

In the next screen, scroll to the Page / screen section. Then select, for example, “Page title and screen class”. You can also select “Landing page + query string”.

Step 6: Import the dimension

Click on the “Import” button in the top right corner.

Step 7: Drag page/screen dimension to rows

Now, drag the dimensions you selected in step 5 to the “Rows” of the “Tab settings”.

Step 8: Click on the plus sign of metrics

Since your exploration has no metrics at this point, you first need to add one by clicking on the + sign in the “Variables” panel.

Step 9: Select Entrances as metric

You can find the entrance metric in the “Pages/screen” section.

Step 10: Import the Entrance metric

Click on the blue “Import” button on the right top corner of your screen.

Step 11: Add Entrances metric to your exploration

In the last step, drag the “Entrances” metrics to the “Values” in the “Tab settings” panel.
That’s all there is to it.

Your entrance report is now being generated with data and will look something like this: 

The last column shows you how many sessions started on a page or screen. 

In the top row, you can see the total number of entrances. 

As with all your exploration reports, you can:

  • Share the report with your team. This way, designers, developers and marketing team can decide which pages or screens require further analysis.
  • Add segments with data from your events, audiences or sessions. This way, you can build a report that gives you even deeper insights. 
  • Access your entrance report later on in the Explore section of your GA4 property.

Final note on Google Analytics 4 Entrances

Entrances definitely have some practical uses. Once you have created an Entrances report in GA4, you can quickly find the pages and screens where your visitors start a session on your site.

You can also add the Exits metric to your GA4 entrance report. This way, you can immediately see where people enter and leave your site.

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