Organic search traffic in Google Analytics 4 – The Complete Guide

Do you know how many people visited your website after doing a search? GA4 makes it easy to find all your answers about so-called organic search traffic. In this practical guide, you can find all questions and answers that will save you time with your SEO and content marketing analysis.

If you'd rather watch than read you can check out our full explanation of organic traffic on our YouTube channel:

What is organic search in Google Analytics 4, anyway?

Organic search in GA4 refers to all traffic that comes from a search engine and which was not sponsored (paid ads).

The screenshot below shows the difference between paid and organic search results in Google.

  • If you click on an ad, the visit to the site goes into the bucket of Paid search traffic.
  • Visits from clicks on another link are labeled as Organic search traffic.

It’s naive to think that clicks on the blue part are free, but I will get to that at the end of this article.

For now, let’s keep it light.

How to find organic search traffic in Google Analytics 4?

In GA4, you can find data about organic search traffic in all the Acquisition reports, Explorations, Advertising, GSC reports (if you add them) and even Insight cards.

So, all you need to do is click around and you will find it?

Basically yes, but that is the toddler’s way of exploring the world.

A better strategy is:

  • List the questions about organic search that matter to your business or organization.
  • Then, figure out and hopefully remember where you can find the answers in GA4.

Don’t run away now.

Not only did I complete the homework for you. I also arranged the questions from obvious to advanced. This is the basis for creating a custom report in GA4 as well.

How many people visited my site after a search?

To see the total of organic search traffic in GA4, you can go to the Traffic Acquisition report.

On the top of the screen, you can see two charts:

  • Left: Users by Session default channel group over time
  • Right: Users by Session default channel group.

Here you can get a clue about the total number of organic search visitors. To see the line highlighted and numbers instead of a bar, hover over Organic search.

How is this useful to you?

This is rather cool, but in my opinion only useful to have a quick impression.

  • The moment you remove your cursor from the numbers, they are erased from your memory. Are you going to write down how many people discovered you thanks to a search engine? I don’t think so.
  • Also, what does, e.g., 5,033 organic search users tell you? Is it a lot, or not?
  • If organic search is not one of the 5 most popular traffic channels, you won’t see a bar appear in the Users by Session default channel group graph.

In the next question, I will show you a more practical way to use this report and get the bonus of a broader view.

How does organic search compare to other traffic channels?

To compare organic search traffic with other channels in GA4, you can visit the Traffic Acquisition report.

Scroll down to the table and make sure you select Session default channel group as the primary dimension.

The table shows you two important things about organic search:

  1. How important is organic search as a channel? In the screenshot above, for example, it is the second most important channel for your traffic.
  2. How many Users and Sessions first did an old school search? This distinction is important, because as shown in the screenshot above: the same user can visit your site multiple times after having done a search.

How is this information useful to you?

Data about the importance of your organic search traffic can lead to two conclusions:

  • either you need to up your SEO and content game to gain or maintain your organic traffic.
  • or you need to allocate resources to other channels because your current situation in Google search seems hopeless.

Warning: what follows is an unpopular opinion amongst content marketers and SEOs. That includes me, so if you feel hurt, we are both suffering now.

Organic visitors are pure vanity metrics. It’s nice to brag with them, but your business needs money

Which leads me to the next question.

Is your organic search generating actual revenue?

If you assign a value to conversions in GA4, you can track how much money every channel, including organic search, is generating.

In the table of the Traffic Acquisition report, you can scroll to the right. The last column of the table contains Total Revenue.

How is this important to you?

Seeing how much money you actually make from SEO and your free traffic can be an absolute game changer. You may decide to allocate more or less budget to paid ads, social media posting, or content for your blog or website.

But what if you don’t run an ecommerce business?

How do I find organic leads in Google Analytics?

In GA4, it is easy to detect how many of your conversions can be attributed to organic traffic. The Traffic Acquisition report is one of the sources you can use to see the actual numbers.

The second last column of the table shows you the amount of conversions.

If you click on the arrow next to All events, you can even select a specific conversion.

If that doesn’t work, you can also open the Conversions report.

Then you click on an event, like for example view-cart.

Now you can see the default channels and how organic search is contributing to achieve your business goals.

Viewing a cart after a search? This number looks suspiciously high to me.

It may be because the screenshot is from the Google Demo Analytics account, which is only one possible way to practice GA4 without a website.

Which search engines generated traffic to your site?

In GA4 you can see which search engines your visitors used to find your site. You can detect the list by changing the primary dimension in the Traffic Acquisition report to Source Medium.

Then you need to browse through the list and look for “/ organic”, such as e.g. “baidu / organic”, or “google / organic”.

You guessed it right: the first part is the name of the search engine.

As explained in the previous two questions, you can analyze how many conversions, or revenue, a search engine is responsible for.

What can you do with this information?

Google is the biggest search engine. But unless you have been living under a rock, you know this could change.

If, at any moment, you notice that Bing starts generating a lot of traffic, you may run ads over there. Or make your site compliant with their webmaster rules.

How many new users did organic search lead to?

If you are only interested in how many new users visited your site through organic search, you can best consult the User acquisition report

The report works similarly to the Traffic acquisition report. So , I refer to the questions above and this article.

But I also want to share a sneak preview of what you can expect:

Why does this information matter to you?

Attaining new eyeballs to your website is challenging. The more people discover your business or organization, the more likely you are to succeed. If that can happen with free traffic, you will be smiling big time.

Be aware that people who discover you thanks to a search engine may never have heard from you before.

This explains why you can see different metrics in the tables of the Traffic and User Acquisition reports. For instance, the average engagement time for New users will be lower, or higher than for Users.

The challenge for you is to make sense of this.

  • Maybe, new users are busy watching your entertaining videos.
  • Or maybe, new users are exploring highly confused and make sure they leave the party before it starts.

Which web pages were visited after a search?

To see which search engine drove traffic to a certain web page, you need to open the Landing Page report in GA4.

In the table, add a secondary dimension by clicking on the + next to Landing page + query string.

Then you pick Traffic source > Sessions source / medium

Now you have an overview of all the landing pages and the source and medium that drove traffic, such as organic.

As with all reports in GA4, this is not super handy if you want to sort, group, or even visually represent the data.

Luckily, you can connect GA4 to Looker Studio, or export the data to CSV. Then you can do your data storytelling magic with your favorite data visualization tool.

3 more ways to access data in GA4 about your organic traffic

The above questions show you where and how to find data about organic traffic in GA4. But there are even more ways to dive deeper into this specific set of data.

How to build an audience of organic visitors in GA4?

Organic search is a default dimension in GA4. If you want to take it a step further, you can also create an audience from all the organic traffic visitors.

You can even define the specific search engine your first users used.

To do so, go to the Admin section and click Audiences.

Click on the New audience button.

Scroll down and in the Templates tab, click Acquisition.

Give your audience a descriptive name, e.g. “Organic Visitors Bing”.

Select “contains bing” as First user source.

And “contains organic” for the First user medium

Save the audience and from now on, you can use this specific dimension in, for instance, your exploration reports.

The sky and your creativity are the limit of what you can do in GA4.

Advertising report

The advertising snapshot report gives you a quick view of your conversions per channel, including organic traffic.

In this article, you can learn a bunch of other cool things you can do with this report.

Insights cards and organic search

GA4 automatically creates insight cards. Sometimes, you can see a card showing up that also contains data about organic search.

This can even include numbers of conversions and organic traffic, as in the screenshot below.

Unfortunately, this is something you cannot configure. But if you see it appear, you can best give it a thumbs up. This way, you let GA know that you want more of these automated insights.

How to get even more Google organic search traffic data in GA4?

Besides the default reports, you can import even more data about Google search traffic in GA4. You can, for instance, integrate data from Google Search Console.

Follow the steps in our GSC – GA4 connection guide and you are all set.

Please, keep the following in mind:

  • The data from your GSC reports differs from default GA4 reports. The most simple explanation for this is that tools use other data collection and tracking technology.
  • The Google Search Console reports only show data from Google and not other search engines, such as Bing and Yandex.

Final notes on organic traffic in GA4

Now you know how, where and why to find organic search traffic in GA4, I want to share 3 thoughts:

1. Organic traffic is often regarded as free. The word choice (paid traffic) in GA only feeds that illusion. But hey, we are living in a world where nothing is for free. Even if you do the hard work on your site, you pay with the underrated time currency. For this reason alone, it is worth analyzing your organic traffic.

2. Universal Analytics used the traffic from 59 search engines. You even had the possibility to add more. The list that GA4 is using is not publicly available (yet) and you cannot add sites yourself.

3. Outside the Google Analytics context, organic traffic is much broader. If, for instance, somebody visits your site after clicking on an unpaid link in a social media channel, this is in fact also organic traffic. You can see this in GA4 as, e.g.: Organic Social, Organic Video and even Organic Shopping.

On behalf of the DDU team, thanks for being here. I hope this article helps you to become an even better data-driven marketer, analyst or business owner.

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