Understanding Entrances in Google Analytics

Today, we’re going to discuss entrances, and talk about why they matter to your data analysis.

So what exactly are entrances in Google Analytics? Entrances allow you to see the first page a user lands on when arriving at your site. The most recent version of Google Analytics, GA4, has done away with entrances, but there are other ways you can track your user behavior.

Keep reading to learn all about Google Analytics entrances, when to use this metric, and what you need to know if you’ve updated to GA4.

What Are Entrances?

According to Google, “Entrances are incremented on the first pageview or screenview hit of a session.” 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.

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

To clarify, 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.

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.

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.

So, 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.

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 you're weakest pages.

How Can I View My Entrances in Google Analytics?

If you’re still using Universal Analytics, you can easily view your entrances. Simply follow these steps:

1. Go to “Behavior,” under “Reports.”

2. Click on “Site Content.”

3. Click on “All Pages.”

4. View your “Entrances.”

Where Can I Find Entrances In Google Analytics 4?

As you probably know, Google Analytics has a new version that was released in 2020 called Google Analytics 4. Google Analytics 4 has a ton of awesome new features but they've also done away with some metrics including entrances.

While not everyone is going to be upset about the loss of entrances, some people may be wondering what to turn to as a replacement metric. The landing page report from Universal Analytics may be one of the first things to consider…

But you're not going to find it in Google Analytics 4 either.

Instead, you'll have to come up with your own replacement using the Analysis feature within GA4.

Here's how to do it:

  1. Select Analysis then Analysis Hub from the right-hand bar then start with a blanket template.

select analysis from the right site

2.  Then you'll need to add the following:

  • Add “Page Path” to the list of Dimensions then set it as your row
  • Add “Event Count” to your list of values
  • Finally, create an “Event Name” filter using exact match to “session_start”

creating the entrance alternative report

Keep in mind, this isn't going to give you the exact same data you'd expect to see in Universal Analytics but it's the next best thing.

Google Analytics Entrances

Entrances definitely have some practical uses but like many metrics, they've been left behind when in Google Analytics 4.

While you aren't going to find entrances, or the landing page report for that matter, the versatility of Google Analytics 4 will still allow you to get close to that old data.

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