Google Analytics New vs. Returning Users: What’s the Difference?

It's important to track new and returning visitors on Google Analytics, but there are some differences between these groups. Learn how they're different here!
By 

Kelli Harris

 on 25 May, 2022. 
Reviewed by 

Romi Hector

New and returning visitors are important user analytics metrics to track on Google Analytics, but there are some differences between these two groups. We explain the difference and tell you how to view a report on new and returning users in the Google Analytics dashboard.

What Is the Difference Between New and Returning Visitors on Google Analytics?

New and returning users are the main metrics that Google Analytics measures. These refer to unique visits and repeat visits, respectively. The former is a metric that measures the number of times someone visits your site from a new IP address (IP address refers to the location of a computer). The latter is a metric that measures how often someone returns to your site after visiting once before.

Where to Find New and Returning Users in Google Analytics

In Universal Analytics

  1. Go to your Google Analytics dashboard and select "Audience" on the left.
  2. Click the "Behavior" drop-down.
  3. Select "New vs. Returning."

In Google Analytics 4

In Google Analytics 4 (GA4), the reporting interface has changed somewhat from the Universal Analytics version. In GA4, you can access the new vs. returning visitor information under Retention. The Retention Overview screen has numerous charts that help analyze new vs. returning users.

Creating a New vs. Returning Visitors Chart in Google Analytics 4

  1. Head over to "Explore."
  2. Then create a Free form report.
  3. Under "Dimensions," select "New/established." New/established is like new vs. returning. Instead of new being defined as a first visit, it now represents the first visit within the last seven days. Established is similar to returning, meaning the first visit occurred more than seven days ago.
  4. Choose the metrics you’d like to measure. We suggest using "Sessions," "Engagement Rate," and "Conversions."
  5. Drag "Dimension" into "Rows" and "Metrics" into "Values."
  6. Now you're set up to view and analyze your data.
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