5 Google Analytics Reports Every PPC Marketer Must Know

Whether you like it or not, the Google Analytics 4 migration deadline is over.

As someone who has used Google Universal Analytics for the past 10 years, this change has been difficult to deal with.

The previous platform provided marketers with easy-to-use reports in a snap.

It’s easy to develop a love-hate relationship with Google Analytics reports right now.

As marketers, we only have so much time in our workday.

Now we are tasked with learning a new user interface (UI) and recreating these hallowed reports while still going about our regular tasks.

In this article, I’ll introduce you to five Google Analytics reports that will help you get the information you need faster when making strategic decisions for PPC campaigns.

My favorite reports will help you:

  • Analyze and expand audience segments in PPC campaigns.
  • Expand PPC keyword selection.
  • Identify successful top-of-funnel efforts to support additional budget requests.

1. Interest Segment Report

As Google Ads’ keyword match types have been relaxed in recent years, narrow variations have taken over the campaigns.

This makes targeted PPC keywords more loosely managed as Google attempts to dominate user intent.

For this reason, understanding the behavior of our target groups is crucial to success.

The “Interests” segment report shows exactly that.

In the previous Universal Analytics interface, this report was called the In-Market Segments report.

Although a little harder to find, the interest report can be found in Google Analytics 4.

To find this report, navigate to Reports > Users > Demographic Details.

By default, the report displays data by country. To view the interest rate report, click the down arrow country and select Interests.

In GA4, navigate to the User Demographics section.Screenshot from GA4, July 2023

This report shows the types of interest segments (for Google Ads) of users who purchased on your site.

Interest rate segment report in GA4, sorted by revenue.Screenshot from GA4, July 2023

The main features of this report allow you to:

  • Segment by past buyers or converters to identify the most relevant interest segments to target.
  • Sort by highest sales or conversion rate.
  • Add relevant and converting interest segments to existing Google Ads campaigns.
  • Create new PPC campaigns that target these segments exclusively.

2. Site Search Report

This report is useful for many reasons besides PPC.

This Google Analytics 4 report helps you understand how users search to find what they want on the site.

The main features of this report can be:

  • Help inform ongoing keyword strategy.
  • Provide advanced keyword lists based on actual user behavior.
  • Identify potential gaps in expected and actual search behavior.

Speaking of gaps, the Site Search report can also help product teams understand if there is additional demand for the products being offered.

Suppose you have a wedding invitation website that offers a good range of products for weddings with different themes.

When you use the Site Search report, you see more and more searches for “rustic” – but none of the website designs look that rustic!

This can inform product marketing that there is a demand for this type of product and they can take action accordingly.

To find the Site Search report, navigate to Reports > Engagement > Events.

Search for the view_search_results event and click on it.

GA4 view_search_resultsScreenshot from GA4, July 2023

Once you click on it, you will find the custom parameter card “search_term” on the page.

A few important notes about search term data:

  • Before using this report, you must create a new custom dimension (event-related) to populate the search term results.
  • Google Analytics doesn’t show data until it reaches a minimum aggregation threshold.

Although it’s not as powerful as the previous Site Search report in Universal Analytics, it provides basic data on the number of events and total number of users per search term.

3. Recommendation report

In my opinion, this report is greatly underestimated.

The Recommendations Report shows the top websites that sent traffic to your site and whether any of those users convert.

To find this report, navigate to Reports > Capture > Traffic Capture.

GA4: AcquisitionScreenshot from GA4, July 2023

To view the websites via the recommendation channel, click the “+” in the default channel group and select “Session Source/Medium”.

GA4: Identify how users find the websiteScreenshot from GA4, July 2023

The main features of this report can be:

  • Help find out how users find the website.
  • Analyze high-quality and low-quality referral traffic to the site.
  • Allows you to create a list of top recommendation websites.

To take your PPC campaigns a step further, try creating a new “Placements” audience and testing it in a new Google Ads Display campaign.

This is a cost-effective way to responsibly test expanding new PPC efforts because the referral sites you choose are known to deliver high-quality traffic to your site.

4. Top Conversion Paths Report

As marketers, we are often asked how top of funnel (TOF) or brand awareness campaigns work.

Executives typically prioritize channels that are proven to work. Therefore, they want to ensure that marketing dollars are used efficiently.

In today’s economy this is more important than ever.

This Google Analytics report helps analyze and interpret TOF behavior.

If you run campaigns of any kind beyond search, this report is absolutely necessary.

Of course, campaigns like YouTube and Display, as well as other paid channels like social media (Meta, Instagram, TikTok, etc.) have different goals and objectives.

TOF campaigns are undoubtedly criticized for not performing “as well” as a search campaign.

As a marketer, it can be frustrating to hear this over and over again.

Using the Conversion Path report provides a holistic view of how long it takes a user to ultimately make a purchase from the first interaction.

To find this report, navigate to Advertising > Attribution > Conversion Paths.

When drilling down on the performance of a specific campaign, I recommend the following:

  • Add a filter that includes “session source/medium” for the paid channel in question (e.g. “google/cpc”).
  • Add an “AND” statement to the “Session Campaign” filter specific to the TOF campaigns in question.
Conversion path report in Google Analytics 4.Screenshot from GA4, July 2023

In the example above, we realized that our paid social campaigns should have been credited at more early and mid-touchpoints!

The main features of this report can be:

  • Identify how many touchpoints lead to the final conversion.
  • Analyze complex user journey interactions when multiple channels are involved (especially with longer sales cycles).
  • Credited conversions report based on attribution model.

This report can uncover the necessary data to support the request for additional marketing dollars in TOF channels.

A win-win situation for everyone involved.

5. Geolocation report

This report may go without saying, but surprisingly, it’s an overlooked report that can help your PPC performance.

Once a destination is set, we often tend to forget it.

Location performance is an easy setting to overlook.

If campaigns work well, what’s the point of changing anything, right?


The location report shows the top users by city, but also sales and conversion rate.

This is a crucial step in optimizing and maintaining PPC campaign performance.

I usually pay attention to the ratio of users by region compared to the level of sales and conversion rate in the same region.

If a large amount of dollars are being spent in a state that generates low revenue, do I want to continue spending money in a place that is not converting?

Of course not!

Consider bidding lower on these areas or perhaps eliminating them altogether.

To find this report, navigate to Reports > Users > User Attributes > Demographic Details.

In the same interest report example, change the default sorting from Country to Region. Or add a secondary dimension to the report.

From there, sort the report by revenue or conversion rate to identify top or bottom performing regions.

Make sure to add a filter for specific paid media channels or campaigns if you want to do further segmentation.

Cross-reference where PPC campaigns are displayed to usersScreenshot from GA4, July 2023

In the example above, I see that California has the highest sales and sessions.

This indicates that I should at least test increasing bids in this region due to historically high performance.

Simple optimizations such as location bid adjustments can have a significant impact on PPC performance over time.

The main features of this report can be:

  • Cross-reference where PPC campaigns are shown to users and how much traffic is sent to the website.
  • Identify any performance gaps by region.
  • Provide optimization recommendations for best performing regions.


The five Google Analytics reports can be helpful in analyzing PPC performance.

Because they provide meaningful trends over time, it may not make sense to view them every day or even every week.

The Google Ads platform has its own robust reporting capabilities for daily and weekly review and optimization of campaigns.

By using these five Google Analytics reports on a monthly or quarterly basis, performance can be viewed holistically.

It’s always important to take a step back from the “day-to-day” optimizations in Google Ads to better understand how PPC fits into the overall performance of the channel.

Reviewing these reports, not necessarily created for PPC, can give you the upper hand in making strategic improvements that can improve your campaign’s performance.

More resources:

Featured Image: Sutthiphong Chandaeng/Shutterstock