GA4 and Anomaly Detection in Data Points

GA4 and Anomaly Detection in Data Points


It's no secret that making use of website data can help business owners to optimize their efforts and expand their potential for growth, and Google Analytics has consistently been an incredible resource to those ends. W​ith Google's switch from Universal Analytics to GA4, we've seen some new and enhanced features, the full implications of which are still to be seen. Let's explore one of them: anomaly detection in your data points. 


What's anomaly detection?

​Anomaly detection is Google's use of AI to algorithmically map your data and through analysis identify data points that stand out from the typical pattern. Through identifying these outliers, businesses can gain even more insight about users and events on their site. Although this isn't a new feature, GA4's use of "events" as units for data has dramatically improved it. With GA4, there are two core kinds of anomalies: "within metrics over time" and "within segments," and each provides different insights. 



What Do I Do About Anomalies? 

​How you respond to and interpret anomalies is going to differ from the kind of anomaly identified and from situation to situation. Sometimes their presence can help you to identify opportunities for growth. Sometimes they illuminate obstacles in the way of your success. Perhaps a few examples will demonstrate how you might respond in different instances. 


Anomalies Within Metrics Over Time

Because this category of data is looking across the entire timeline of your website, outliers in this area can suggest a lot about your content, the health of your site, and user experience. On the positive side, an anomaly here might help you to identify a specific blog that went viral, or a product that's getting more attention than usual, like if a new backlink sends a surge of traffic your way. Identifying such anomalies will help you to better promote the page or product that saw a spike, with the goal of replicating it. Of course, negative anomalies can be just as helpful. If compared to the usual timeline, a page suddenly plummets in traffic or time-on-page, this may help you to identify technical issues where an update or change may be limiting users' abilities on your site. 

Anomalies Within Segments

This kind of data tells you less about changes in your site and more about changes in your users and how they access it. Perhaps a new phone launched, and suddenly there is an increase of a certain kind of mobile user on your site. Knowing that helps you to ensure their best experience. On the other hand, perhaps that same backlink that gave you a surge in traffic before also consisted of a much younger audience, or users in a different geographic area than you're used to. In these instances, anomaly detection will help you to analyze, understand, and act on these interesting insights. 

Unhelpful Anomalies

Of course, an additional benefit to this kind of data is when there is a surge of traffic from, say, bots or a data center of some kind. In these cases, you don't want this traffic to stay in your reports and skew your understanding of what's happening. With this in mind, GA4 also enables you to isolate and exclude anomalies from your reports.  
In any of these cases, identifying anomalies quickly is a huge benefit to ensuring the success of your site and the accuracy of your data interpretation. 

How do I use it?

Anomaly detection is automatically active in GA4, so there's nothing you need to do to start getting this data. It's already at your disposal. To learn about anomalies on your site, you can go to the "Reports Snapshot" in the "Reports" area of GA4. From there, if you scroll a bit, you should see a report card titled "Insights." This is where anomalies will be reported if there are any. You can also search for anomalies in the search bar. But of course, don't panic if there aren't any. It's just a simple thing to look out for. 


Previously, marketers and business owners would have to comb through endless data and reports just with the hopes of finding an anomaly like this. Now these kinds of insights are readily at our fingertips thanks to algorithmic logic. It's an incredible benefit we hope you'll use. Want to learn more? Check out our digital marketing resources or collaborate with Greyphin to maximize the impact of your site. 


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