Five GA4 Terms You Should Be Familiar With

Date: September 10, 2023


We are now several months into exclusive use of Google Analytics 4 (GA4) following the sunset of  Universal Analytics on July 1st. While Universal Analytics and GA4 essentially do the same thing, GA4 does have some key differences that some still struggle with– specifically in the terminology used that you should (1) be aware of and (2) familiarize yourself with. 

Active Users 

An active user is any user who has an engaged session on your site or whenever the first_visit or engagement_time_msec event is triggered within Analytics when someone visits your website.

It’s important to note that Universal Analytics (UA) highlighted total users (shown as users) in its reports while GA4 focuses on active users which in its reports are also shown as users. So while “Users” appears the same in both reporting methods for UA and GA4, they actually are a bit different. 

Engaged Sessions 

In order to understand what an engaged session is you first need to know what a session is. A session is counted essentially anytime someone enters your website and views a page. It’s important to note that a session automatically times out after a user is inactive on the page for 30 minutes or more. If a user times out and returns to your website a new session will be started. 

Now that we’ve covered what a session is, we can dive into what an engaged session is. An engaged session is counted when one or more of the following three actions are taken by a user on your website: 

  1. A session that lasts longer than 10 seconds 
  2. One or more conversion event has occurred (Example: Someone filled out a contact form) 
  3. A user has viewed two or more pages during the session 

This metric is helpful for understanding user behavior and engagement with your site. 

Engagement Rate 

Engagement rate simply put is the percentage of engaged sessions. This metric is essentially the opposite of bounce rate which was used as a metric in Universal Analytics and has recently been incorporated into GA4 as well. 

While bounce rate has been reinstated within GA4 its meaning is different than it was in Universal Analytics. In Universal Analytics bounce rate was the percentage of users who visited a single webpage. Well, in GA4 bounce rate is the exact opposite of engagement rate. It is the percentage of non-engaged sessions. This change is likely due to the fact that having a user visiting just one page on your website is not necessarily a bad thing because that user could have found exactly what they were looking for without needing to go to another page which actually provides a good user experience. 


An event is essentially any action that is taken on your website. GA4 has a handful of set events that are tracked automatically. You are also able to create your own events to track actions specific to your website. The easiest way to do this is through Google Tag Manager so be sure you have that up and running. 

A key difference from Universal Analytics to GA4 is that in UA you had to set up a goal in order to track a conversion. However, in GA4 you need to create events and mark them as conversions in order to track specific conversion actions on your website such as contact form submissions or phone calls. 

Not Set 

Not set often displayed in GA4 as (not set) within reports is shown as a placeholder when information is not yet received by analytics or when the information is just not available quite yet. 

You’ll often see this term within the Traffic Acquisition report of GA4. 

Have Additional Questions About GA4? 

If you are still unsure about GA4 and how it works the team at 9Sail is happy to help! Contact us to learn more about how to track your traffic and how we can help boost your online presence.