What is a ‘Dimension’ in Google Analytics?

On 06 April 2022

Google Analytics Reports furnish you with the crucial information related to the traffic that your website experiences. The information thus accrued proves to be critical in making business decisions since all of the data is customer-centric and, therefore, of prime importance.

A multitude of reports can be obtained using Google Analytics – the average engagement time of each user who visits your page, a tally of conversions, where your users are from across the globe, your top-selling products, user retention rate, so on and so forth.

Google Analytics Reports

You can find your required data in the following 4 types of reports when you log into your GA account:

  • Audience – This helps you learn more about your visitors, such as where they’re from, what devices they’re using to access your site, and their interests.
  • Behavior – This report aids you in examining the bounce rate, pages visited per session, and time invested in browsing through your offered content to see how well your site engages users.
  • Conversions – With this, you can check if users complete their initiated transactions and goals and produce revenue at the desired rate.
  • Acquisition – You can find out how people find your website using this data: through search engines, social media, or website recommendations. It is an important metric to consider when deciding which internet marketing methods attract the maximum number of visitors to your website.

Building Blocks of Google Analytics Reports

The Google Analytics (GA) Reports are constructed from various attributes of your website’s customers or users. These attributes are either numeric or non-numeric. The numeric, or quantitative ones, are known as ‘Metrics.’ The non-numeric ones, on the other hand, represent some qualitative attribute of the users and are called ‘Dimensions.’

Examples of metrics are the Number of Users, Sessions, Bounce Rate, etc. In short, they all hold numerical representations.

Dimensions are physical quantities that describe one aspect of the user but are not expressed in numbers. We shall have a microscopic look into the different dimensions that Google Analytics holds for us.

Types of GA Dimensions

There are three sub-categories of dimensions as found on the Google Analytics tool.

  1. Primary Dimension: It gives a bird’s-eye view of the user performance metrics (sessions, revenue, conversion rate, etc.) concerning that dimension, for, e.g., source/medium.
  1. Secondary Dimension: A Secondary Dimension can be added to the GA Report by selecting from the drop-down list to obtain more clarity regarding the user behavior for additional attributes. For example, suppose you choose ‘Device Category’ from the options of Secondary Dimension. In that case, the user metrics can be observed more precisely based on the type of device from which they have been accessing your website.
  1. Custom Dimensions: These can be custom-created in the reports by syncing GA with a third-party database, for example, a CRM database. These help the website owners track more minuscule data points that might be of pivotal importance to their business.

Primary Dimensions

There are more than 20 Primary Dimensions available for GA Reports. We shall now have an in-depth look one by one into the most important types of Primary Dimension available on Google Analytics-

  • Ad Content: This dimension picks out all the identifiable categories of advertisements you have put up on your website and analyzes the user activity and user-related metrics for those individual advertisement content types. The first line of each advertisement that you put out, and the utm_content tags used in tagged campaigns, form the basis of this dimension.
  • Browser: This dimension is pretty self-explanatory. The browser each user is using while visiting your website serves as an important analytical dimension. The user data is segregated based on this.
  • Browser Version: Yet another simple-to-explain dimension, the browser version helps analyze user behavior.
  • Campaign: The names you assign to ad or custom campaigns you have manually tagged with a utm_campaign parameter form the basis of this dimension. Your Campaign Manager 360 or Search Ads 360 campaigns, if those Google Marketing Platform advertising accounts are linked to Google Analytics, provide insightful results regarding visitor activity with this dimension.
  • City, Continent, Country: Although these three dimensions might seem very simple, they often provide the most critical and useful insights regarding your website’s visitors. Identifying the correct target group is one of the fundamentally important parts of any business, and these three dimensions help in sorting this dilemma.

You might have been thinking your products best cater to ‘X’ country’s ‘Y’ city, but website traffic might just prove otherwise. Therefore, these three dimensions are of utmost importance.

  • Keyword: This Primary Dimension proves to be a game-changer for your business. It provides clear data regarding which keywords your visitors used before landing on our website while looking for whatever they were.

Both paid and organic (unpaid) search keywords are captured in the collected data; therefore, it is all-encompassing. It helps while implementing SEO and SEM for content that you put out on your website and, if done correctly, increases traffic to your website significantly.

  • Landing Page: Yet another crucial dimension, this helps you identify exactly from where each of your visitors gets redirected to your website. It often might be the case that your website is attracting poor traffic because of significantly lower affiliate marketing that you are involved in than your competitors.

Due to poor search engine optimization (SEO), your web page is not ranking higher on Google searches. As a result, blog writers cannot identify you as one of the product/service providers when they do put in website names as suggestions in their pieces.

Numerous such issues can be identified through this single dimension or in cohesion with a couple of other secondary dimensions, which we shall look into later in this article.

  • Medium: It is common knowledge that traffic is acquired on websites through multiple sources, referrals, email marketing, organic searches, or paid searches. The ‘Medium’ dimension helps you identify which of these channels brought you each user visit.

What would this help in? It would aid greatly in determining which channels to allocate more budget to and where to curtail.

Spending a marketing budget indiscriminately without solid data backing your decisions might often prove an imprudent move. This dimension comes in handy in such cases. It comprises mediums identified with the utm_medium parameter.

Secondary Dimensions

Now that you have a fair insight into the major Primary Dimensions and how they function, let us look at similar dimensions that work in conjugation with the former to provide more drilled-down results with the GA Reports. There are near about 100 Secondary Dimensions available, out of which we shall look into only the most relevant ones:

  • Account: There is a one-to-one correspondence between Google Ads account name and Google Ads customer ID, as seen below.
  • Ad Format: The format in which your advertisement is put up, be it text, image, video, flash, etc., brings about variations in user engagement, retention, conversion, and other metrics. Thus, when combined with some primary dimensions, this dimension throws up useful insights regarding targeted advertisement tactics.
  • Affinity Category: Affinity categories are used to reach potential customers and make them aware of your brand or product. These users are found at the higher end of the purchase funnel, near the beginning of the process.

As can be understood from the definition, using this secondary dimension in report analysis helps make critical decisions related to advertising strategy, channels, and even budget allocation.

  • Audience: Analytics has the intelligent property of grouping users together based on different combinations of attributes that imparts some meaningful aspect specifically to your business.

Analytics makes the task of customer segmentation easy for you by providing you with a tailor-made target cohort for you based on these combinations of attributes.

Proliferating your business by optimizing your targeting and advertising strategies becomes much easier by virtue of this one dimension.

  • Checkout Options: During the process of checkout, users avail delivery services from different logistics service providers, e.g., FedEx, DHL, UPS for delivery options; similarly, in the case of payment options, different users opt for a variety of options ranging from AmEx, Visa, Mastercard, etc. When clubbed with Shopping Stage, this secondary dimension provides critical insights into the customer shopping behavior.
  • Device Category: Device Category forms an integral part of Google Analytics Reports. Be it a laptop, a mobile, or a tablet—it identifies each device from which your visitors have logged into your website. That gives an insight into the customer demographics and how your potential customers view your User Interface (UI).

If traffic is significantly lesser from a particular type of device, you should look into it. Maybe you are losing out on significant conversions simply because the UI is not user-friendly from that device.

  • Age, Gender, Country: These three secondary variables, along with other demographic attributes, form the crux of the STP process for any business. i.e., Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning. When used in combination with different sets of Primary Dimensions, these dimensions provide a gold mine of demographic insights into different visitor cohorts, help build Audiences, and go a long way in helping your business spread its reach.
  • In-Market Segment: These users are more likely to be interested in purchasing products or services in the given category. These customers are at the ultimate stage of the purchasing process and are at the bottom of the purchase funnel.
  • Other Category: These are finer-defined categories than Affinity or In-market, and they allow you to find users that don’t fit into any of the other categories. A more detailed explanation can be understood from the illustration below.
  • User Bucket: This is a unique and interesting feature that GA provides to its users. Users are randomly split up into groups for the purpose of A/B testing, and therefore, a major chunk of marketing efforts on your part gets automated. The number of heads in each ‘bucket ranges between 1-100.

How to Implement Dimension-Metrics Combinations

Not every metric and dimension can be mixed. A scope is assigned to each dimension and metric: user-level, session-level, or hit-level. It makes sense to combine dimensions and metrics with the same scope. Sessions, for instance, is a metric you can only use with session-level dimensions such as Source, Medium, Country or City.

Custom Dimensions

Custom dimensions in your Analytics account are similar to pre-set or default dimensions, except that you define them yourself. They can be used to collect and evaluate data that Analytics doesn’t automatically track.

Purpose of Custom Dimensions

Using custom dimensions and metrics, you may combine Analytics data with non-Analytics data, such as CRM data. You can track success against your most essential dimensions in customizable and easy-to-read bespoke reports by tracking this data with custom dimensions.

In Custom Reports, custom dimensions can be used as primary dimensions. You can also utilize them in normal reports as Segments and supplementary dimensions.

Lifecycle of Custom Dimension

A custom dimension or metric has four stages in its lifecycle:

  • Configuration – an index, a name, and other attributes like scope define your custom dimensions and metrics.
  • Collection – from your implementation, you send custom dimension and metric values to Analytics.
  • Processing – data is processed according to your specific dimension and metric definitions, as well as any reporting view filters.
  • Reporting – in the Analytics user interface, you create new reports using your specified dimensions and metrics.

Scope and Priority

The scope of a custom-dimension value specifies which hits will be connected with it. The scope is divided into four categories: product, hit, session, and user.

  • Product – the value of a product is applied to the product for which it was set (Enhanced Ecommerce only).
  • Hit – the value is applied to the single hit for which it was set.
  • Session – the value assigned to all hits in a single session is called a session.
  • User – until the value changes or the custom dimension is made inactive, the user value is applied to all hits in current and future sessions.

Restrictions and Constraints

For various custom dimensions, there are 20 indices available. For bespoke dimensions, 360 accounts have 200 indices available. You can’t erase custom dimensions, but you may disable them. It’s best to avoid reusing custom dimensions. When editing a custom dimension’s name, scope, and value, both the old and new values can be paired with either the old or new dimension name.

It mingles data in your reports so that a filter can’t reliably separate it. When paired with demographic data, certain custom dimensions are not available in reporting. When requesting custom dimensions with demographic data, you may encounter thresholding or incompatibility limits in reporting or via the API.

In Conclusion

If we were to simplify things, Dimensions on Google Analytics are just the headers for the rows in your reports. But, when you dissect each dimension with insight and precision, a treasure trove of valuable data for your business is revealed.

A granular understanding of dimensions and course metrics is required to interpret GA reports accurately. Misinterpreting the GA reports dimensions can bring about unpleasant consequences in your business.

While on the other hand, with the proper knowledge, you can easily unlock the mantra for success in your business with Google Analytics reports.