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GA4 real-time reports not working? Here's how to fix it

#Google Ads
2/19/2024
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GA4 real-time reports not working? Here's how to fix it

You set up Google Analytics tracking and opened the real-time report, but nothing happened there. You don't see anything: no pageviews, no events, nothing. Sound familiar? Let's figure out what could have gone wrong.

To save you (and others) time, I've compiled a list of the most common mistakes that explain why Google Analytics live reports aren't working.

Quick note: If you're also having trouble with Google Tag Manager, check out this list of the most common GTM errors.

GA4 may not be installed at all.

Sometimes, Google Analytics 4 may not be installed at all (or, for example, the developers accidentally removed it from the website without your knowledge).

To help you ensure this, I have prepared a list of ways to check if Google Analytics 4 is installed on a website. So go there and read these tips.

You may be checking the wrong representation of GA4.

We are all human, and sometimes we make mistakes. One of the first things I check is the ID of the GA4 data stream.

Go to Admin > Data streams and check there for a data stream ID starting with "G-"

GA4 presentation check

Now check where your Google Analytics 4 is installed on the website (this could be a GTAG code snippet or installation using Google Tag Manager) or your CMS has a dedicated field for the Google Analytics ID (like Wix). If they match - we move on. If they do not match, you are looking at the wrong representation.

Unfortunately, in the current GA4 interface, there is no way to search by data stream ID.

GA4 presentation check

Therefore, you will have to check manually.

The internal filter/developer filter is active.

In Google Analytics 4, you can exclude your internal traffic (that comes from your employees/colleagues). This feature checks the visitor's IP address, and if it matches your internal or developer traffic rule, your events will be excluded.

The first thing to check is the presence of filters. Go to Admin > Data collection and modification > Data filters to do this.

Checking the internal filter of GA4 developer

If in the right column, "Current state," you see the status "Active" next to the Internal traffic and/or Developer traffic filters, this may be the reason.

Checking the internal filter of GA4 developer

But we're not done yet. In the admin panel, go to Data streams

  > Your data flow > Configure tag settings > Show more > Define internal traffic

Checking the internal filter of GA4 developer

A list of rules that define internal/developer traffic will open.

— If you don't see any rules, your GA4 live reports are not working for another reason (in this case, continue reading this article)

— If you see some rules, click on them and see what IP addresses are configured there. If one of them is yours, that might be why you don't see yourself in real-time reports.

Extension for blocking GA4

Various browser extensions are other options for website owners who want to exclude their internal traffic. For example, Google Analytics Opt-out

Extension to block GA4 in Chrome. Google Analytics Opt-Out

Or Block Yourself from Analytics

Google Chrome Blocking extensions. Block Yourself from Analytics

which tells Google Analytics JavaScript not to send information to Google Analytics.

To start viewing your events in real-time GA4 reports, you must temporarily uninstall or disable the extension (depending on the extension's features).

Ad blocker blocks Google Analytics.

Another cohort of browser extensions that can potentially block Google Analytics (meaning that user events using them will not appear in any GA4 reports, including real-time reports).

An example of such an extension is AdBlocker, which is the best ad blocker.

Google Chrome Blocking extensions. Adblocker - best ad blocker

Ghostery Tracker Ad Blocker - Privacy AdBlock

Google Chrome Blocking extensions. Ghostery Tracker Adblock - Privacy Adblock

And many others. So, if you are using one of the blockers, try disabling it and see if that helps.

Some VPN services block Google Analytics.

If you use a VPN, they may also block Google Analytics 4.

So, if you're using VPN tools, try disabling them (for testing) and see if Google Analytics 4 real-time reports start showing your own data.

Google Tag Manager is not published.

If you are installing Google Analytics 4 through Google Tag Manager, make sure the changes in your container are published. You need to publish the container whenever you change something in a GTM container and test it. Only then will these changes work for your website visitors.

Log in to your Google Tag Manager > Overview container and review your workspace changes.

If you see your GA4 configuration tag there, it has not been published.

Verification of presentation in GA4. Google Tag Manager

Publish the GA4 test by clicking the Submit button in the upper right corner and check the functionality.

Verification of presentation in GA4. Google Tag Manager

Consent security policy blocks GA (or GTM)

If your website has a content security policy, it may block Google Analytics requests. You can determine this by going to your browser's developer console (on Windows and Chrome, you need to go to Developer Tools by pressing F12 and going to Console).

After the transition, refresh the page. If you can find an error that looks like this (or something similar)

Verification of presentation in GA4. Google Tag Manager

this means you are dealing with the Content Security Policy.

Google Analytics "went down"

Even though this happens extremely rarely, it is still worth checking. Sometimes, Google can also have bad days that can disrupt Google Analytics. One of the first places to check this is the status dashboard. See what the status of Google Analytics is there.

In addition, there are services for checking the performance of sites, which show whether the problem is only yours or whether it is widespread. Down for Everyone or Just Me is a popular example of such a service.

Verification of presentation in GA4. Security policy of consent blocks GA

Consent

It is full of nuances, and unfortunately, it is impossible to give specific instructions for this (since each site's settings may differ).

Broadly speaking, the problem is as follows: Check if your website has a cookie consent popup. What happens after you decline cookies in this pop-up? Normally, the Google Analytics 4 tracking code should not be activated, which means that DebugView will not work either.

Another situation could be that you may have implemented Google's enhanced consent mode. If the visitor does not consent to tracking, your GA4 tracking codes remain active. However, then the data sent to Google Analytics 4 is limited, and you will not see such events in DebugView (they cannot be seen).

Another idea that occurs to me is that your cookie consent pop-up uses an auto-block feature that automatically blocks all tracking codes on the site and prevents them from working properly.

How to fix this problem? It is difficult. And as I mentioned above, things can vary from website to website. In the framework of this article, it is important to localize the problem, and we will definitely talk about cookie consent pop-ups and Google's consent mode in future publications.

Comparison

At the top of the real-time reports, you can filter the data and view only a specific group of visitors. This is possible thanks to the Comparison function. So, if you don't see any traffic in your real-time reports, take a look and pay attention to the used traffic segment.

If it says "All users", then everything is fine. The report displays the data of all visitors.

Checking the presentation in GA4. Problems are related to consent

But if you see something else, e.g

Checking the presentation in GA4. Problems are related to consent

then the report shows only part of the data. You may have used comparisons in another standard report and then switched to real-time reporting. Comparisons are saved when you view the Reports section. If this is your case, toggle the slider or click the small cross on the connected segment to remove it

Checking the presentation in GA4. Problems are related to consent

Real-time GA reporting is a great feature that lets you check if the data from your website is being sent to Google correctly. However, sometimes analysts and marketers find themselves in a situation where tracking data (or part of it) is missing.

There are many reasons why Google Analytics live reports may not work, and in this article, we have listed the most common errors that can cause this. This list is far from complete, but these reasons are those that we, in our practice, encounter most often.

The author of the article

Serhii Popovych

Serhii Popovych

Google Ads Team Lead

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