In-Depth Guide to GA4 Path Exploration (+Better Alternative)

In-Depth Guide to GA4 Path Exploration (+Better Alternative) cover

Are you wondering what the GA4 path exploration report is?

If so, you’re in the right place, as this is the main question we explore in the article!

To be more specific, we:

  • Cover its most common use cases.
  • Show how to create the report.
  • Explain its different settings.
  • Compare it to Userpilot Paths.

Let’s dive in, shall we?


  • The GA4 path exploration report provides a visualization of successive or previous actions that users take at a particular stage of the user journey. For example, you can use it to visualize actions taken before reaching a conversion point.
  • The report allows teams to understand how users navigate their website or application, identify the top pages visited after the homepage, find out what causes friction in the user journey, identify top-performing pages and features, and analyze user paths leading to conversions.
  • The path exploration report consists of 3 elements: the path visualization, the Variables panel, and the Settings panel.
  • In the Variables section, you have the list of segments, dimensions, and supported metrics.
  • Path exploration can be customized by dragging and dropping them in the corresponding section in the Settings panel: Segment, Breakdown, and Value (respectively). You can also use the segments and dimensions to filter the data.
  • To create the path exploration report, navigate to the Explorations page by choosing Explore from the menu.
  • Next, choose Path Exploration to generate a default report, which you can later customize by manipulating variables in the Settings section.
  • Alternatively, you can choose Blank or Start Over to create your report from scratch. To do so, you need to choose the Starting Point and define the starting page/event. Next, edit the node settings for each step and customize the report.
  • To create a reverse path exploration report, click on the Ending point instead of the Starting point, and follow the process as above.
  • Userpilot is a product adoption platform that also offers the path analysis feature. Book the demo to find out more about its unique capabilities.

Try Userpilot and Take Product Adoption to the Next Level

What are path exploration reports in Google Analytics 4?

The path exploration report is a tool for visualizing user actions before or after they complete an event while navigating a website or app.

The path exploration graph consists of bars representing different events or pages, as well as arrow-like bands representing the number of users who complete an action, like in any other Sankey diagram.

GA4 Path exploration visualization
GA4 Path exploration visualization.

What are the use cases of the GA4 path exploration report?

How can you leverage the insights that path exploration offers?

Here are 5 common use cases.

Understand how users navigate your website/app

The GA4 path exploration report is invaluable for gaining insights into how users navigate through your website or application.

By analyzing the sequence of pages or events users engage with, you can understand the typical pathways, including what content captures interest or what features they interact with the most.

This knowledge helps you optimize the user experience by making navigation more intuitive and highlighting the most relevant and valuable content or features.

Identify top pages users explore after visiting the homepage

Determining which pages users visit immediately after landing on the homepage is crucial for understanding their first impressions and interests.

The path exploration report can reveal these trends. This allows you to assess the effectiveness of your homepage layout, the visibility of your navigation elements, and the initial appeal of your content.

This information can be used to guide adjustments to ensure users find value and continue to engage with your site or product.

Find friction points in the user journey

Path exploration helps teams identify and address friction points within the user journey, which is essential for improving user satisfaction and conversion rates.

How so?

From the report, you can find out where users commonly drop off, as well as their actions before this happens. This allows you to make targeted improvements to streamline the user experience and reduce barriers to conversion.

Discover the top-performing pages

Understanding which pages are most effective in engaging users can inform content and design strategies.

The path exploration report allows you to identify pages that consistently attract and retain user interest.

These insights can be used to replicate successful elements across your site, enhance underperforming pages, and guide content development efforts to align with user preferences.

Analyze the page path that leads to conversions

Analyzing the paths users take before converting is key to understanding what drives successful outcomes.

The path exploration report provides detailed visibility into the sequence of interactions leading up to conversions, be it purchases, sign-ups, or other key actions.

By examining these pathways, you can identify which content, features, or user experiences are most effective at driving conversions and focus on optimizing these conversion paths for better performance.

Key elements of Google Analytics path exploration report

Now that you know what the path exploration report is and how you can use it to guide your decisions, let’s explore the elements of the report.

When you first look at the report, there are 3 main elements:

  • Path exploration visualization – the diagram illustrating user flow between pages and events.
  • Variables panel – listing the segments, dimensions, and metrics you can use to customize the visualization.
  • Settings panel – that’s where you select the segments, dimensions for breakdowns, metrics for values, and set filters.

Starting or ending point

As mentioned, path exploration allows you to view actions users take before or after an event or page view.

The default path exploration template that GA uses to create the report focuses on actions that happened afterward, but you can generate a reverse report illustrating previous actions.

When creating a new path exploration report, a window like the one below appears.

That’s where you have to choose, either the Starting point or the Ending point for the diagram.

Choosing Starting or Ending point GA4 Path exploration
Choosing the starting or ending point in GA4 path exploration.

Path steps

At the top of the graph, you have the details of the path steps.

That’s where you can edit the Starting/Ending point, and change node settings.

Tailoring the steps in the GA4 Path exploration visualization
Tailoring the steps in the GA4 path exploration visualization.


You can define the Segments by dragging them from the Variables panel on the left-hand side to the Segment section in the Settings column.

That’s how you narrow down the user group that you want to analyze.

For example, this could be users from a particular geographical location, using a particular device type (tablet, mobile, etc.), or any other user segments you’ve previously created.

Segments in the GA4 Path Exploration report
Segments in the GA4 path exploration report.

Dimensions and metrics

A dimension in GA is a characteristic or attribute of your data that you can use to organize, segment, and measure user behavior. They provide context to your data, allowing you to understand how and why certain metrics change over time.

In the report, they are listed in the left-hand side column and you can use them to create breakdowns.

Apart from the 4 dimensions listed by default (Event name, Gender, Country, Device category), you can add others from various categories by clicking on the plus button. There are multiple dimension options, and you can use them in any exploration technique.

Below the Dimensions, you can find a list of metrics to track in your report.

The report supports 3 metrics:

  • The Event count metric counts the number of events users triggered for each node.
  • The Active users metric shows how many users have engaged with the website or app.
  • The Total users metric represents the total number of unique users who have logged an event.
Dimensions and metrics in the GA4 path exploration report.


A node refers to a specific data point within the step. It represents user actions or events on your website or inside the app, such as page views, button clicks, or any custom events.

In the report, there are 4 possible node kinds:

  • Event name – when you want to analyze the sequence of events that users trigger on your website or app.
  • Page title and screen name – when you want to analyze page and screen view data.
  • Page title and screen class – similar but instead of individual screens in apps, you analyze their categories.
  • Page path and screen class – when you want to focus on specific URLs (and screen categories).

In the Settings panel, you can also decide to View unique nodes only. If you decide to do so, you won’t be able to see the multiple events tracked on each page or screen.

You can also exclude nodes from the path by right-clicking on it and selecting Exclude node.

Node types in the GA4 Path Exploration report
Node types in the GA4 path exploration report.


Google Analytics allows you to break down the paths by a dimension for side-to-side comparisons.

For example, you could compare the paths of website visitors using different operating systems or device types to identify friction points that slow them down.

To do so, drag and drop one of the dimensions from the Variables section. You can also choose them from the dropdown once you click on the button.

Breakdowns in the GA4 Path Exploration report
Breakdowns in the GA4 path exploration report.

Hovering over the category shows you the number of users from the category in each node.

Breakdown by device category
Breakdown by device category.


Values is one of the Settings sections where you can select the metric to track in your report.

For instance, you could track the event count or unique users.

To define the value, drag and drop one of the 3 metrics on the left or select it from the drop-down.

Values in the GA4 Path Exploration report
Values in the GA4 path exploration report.


At the bottom of the Settings column, you can also set the filters to further narrow down the data points.

What can you filter the data by?

Dimensions and Values.

For example, you could filter users by age or country.

Filters in the GA4 Path Exploration report
Filters in the GA4 path exploration report.

How to create a sample path exploration report in GA4?

As a Universal Analytics user, I must admit that generating a conversion paths report is more intuitive in GA4.

Here’s how you create path exploration visualization:

1. In the sidebar menu, click Explore.

Choose Explore from the menu
Choose Explore from the menu.

2. In the Explorations section, select Path exploration or Blank. The latter allows you to create a custom report from scratch.

Select Path exploration from the Explorations page
Select path exploration from the Explorations page.

3. When you choose Path exploration, Google Analytics generates a default report.

Default path exploration report
Default path exploration report.

You can either customize it or start from scratch by clicking on Start over at the top of the page.

4. If you decide to create a new report, define the Starting point by selecting one of the 4 node types and the event, page, screen class, or page path.

Specify the node type for the starting point
Specify the node type for the starting point.

5. When the report is ready, define the node type for all consecutive steps and choose the event name, page title, screen class, or page path. The report shows the top 5 in each step and you can view the remaining ones by clicking on More.

Configure the steps in the path exploration
Configure the steps in the path exploration.

6. Work your way down the Variables and Settings panel to customize your report:

  • Specify the date range.
  • Define user segments.
  • Choose the Dimension for data Breakdown.
  • Select the metric.
  • Set up the filter.

How to create a reverse path exploration report in GA4?

The reverse path exploration report isn’t very different from the regular one.

The only difference is that it outlines the pages or events triggered by users before completing the key event or viewing the key page, not subsequent events or pages.

To create the report, follow the same process.

1. In the default report, Start over and click on Ending point.

Click on Ending point
Click on the Ending point.

2. Choose the node type.

Specify the node type for the ending point
Specify the node type for the ending point.

3. Pick the ending event, page, screen class, or path.

Choose the ending event name
Choose the ending event name.

4. Tweak the segmentation, breakdown, value, and filter settings.

Customize the reverse path exploration report
Customize the reverse path exploration report.

Userpilot Paths: A better alternative to GA4 path explorations

Userpilot is a product growth platform that has massively developed its analytics functionality in the last year or so.

Currently, it offers features that no other DAP supports, including:

And user path analysis.

Overview of Userpilot’s path analysis feature

Just like path exploration in Google Analytics 4, Userpilot Paths enables teams to identify all users’ actions leading up to or following an in-app event.

Thanks to that, teams can:

Userpilot Paths visualization
Userpilot Paths visualization.
  • Identify drop-off points in the user journey and understand why this happens. For example, if you can see a looped behavior, with users going back and forth between two screens without progress, they must be experiencing friction you need to address.
User paths leading to drop-offs
User paths leading to drop-offs
  • Apart from the traditional tree graph showing all user actions, Userpilot allows you to display only the most common path. When you combine it with user segmentation, you can use it to identify the happy path for your users.
Top Path visualization in Userpilot
Top Path visualization in Userpilot.

How is Userpilot Paths a better alternative?

Userpilot and Google Analytics 4 are two tools serving different use cases. Whether you consider Userpilot Paths a better alternative to GA path exploration depends on the problems you’re trying to solve.

For starters, Userpilot doesn’t allow you to track user behavior on websites or mobile apps, so if that’s what you’re after, GA is a better solution.

GA also offers more customization options. For example, with Userpilot you can track only one metric: event count.

However, if you’re looking for a platform for tracking user behavior inside web apps, Userpilot is the software for you.

Creating path reports in Userpilot is more intuitive thanks to its simple UI. It also has the Top path visualization, which you can’t find in GA.

However, the main advantage of Userpilot over GA is that it allows you to gather a complete picture of user behavior, needs, and pain points thanks to its feedback functionality.

For example, you can target the users who dropped off with an in-app survey (or an email one – thanks to integrations with HubSpot and Salesforce).

Once you have all the data, you can act on the insights: Userpilot’s engagement layer allows you to design interactive onboarding experiences and engage users at different touchpoints with in-app UI patterns.

One common use case is driving account expansion by contextually prompting users to upgrade to a higher plan once they reach a certain stage in the user journey.


GA4 path exploration is a powerful tool for tracking user actions at different stages of the funnel. This is possible for web and mobile apps, as well as websites.

As a digital adoption platform, Userpilot allows you to generate similar reports for web apps, collect customer feedback, and act on insights by engaging users in-app.

If you’d like to learn more about Userpilot Paths and its other analytics features, book the demo!

Try Userpilot and Take Product Adoption to the Next Level

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