Google Analytics Metrics and Dimensions
Dimensions and metrics are the building blocks of your reports in Google Analytics, but so often I see confusion about the difference between dimensions and metrics. And even when you have a fair understanding of what dimensions and metrics are, you may not realize how many of them you actually have to choose from.
There are more than 230 (!) metrics and dimensions you can choose from when you’re creating a custom report or advanced segment. I’ve created a simple spreadsheet that should help expose the many options you have. You can download it now, but before I talk about that, let’s get everyone up to speed on the basics.
Dimensions describe the data. They are the labels in the rows of your reports. Think of a dimension as describing the “what,” as in “what keyword did they use” or “what city is the visitor from” or “what pages were viewed.”
Metrics measure the data. Metrics are elements about a dimension that can be measured. Think of a metric as answering “how many” or “how long,” as in “how many visits” or “how long a visitor was on the site.”
Now, back to those 230+ metrics and dimensions. The spreadsheet organizes them into two tabs – Dimensions and Metrics (big surprise!).
For each dimension/metric, it lists the name and definition. It also tells you what type of data is being measured or described (visitor, page tracking, AdWords, etc.). I’ve also included the API reference for each metric/dimension that is available via the Google Analytics Reporting API.
There’s also a column labeled Where You’ll Find Them, which tells you how they are (unfortunately) categorized within the custom report and custom segment creation interfaces. For example, if you’re looking for the User Defined Value dimension, it’s located under Content (instead of Visitors, where it belongs). Looking for the % Exit metric, check under Visitors (instead of Content). You get the idea.
Now it’s your turn
Still confused about dimensions and metrics? Wondering about some of those odd metrics, like TV Impressions are? Ask us below!
About Jim Gianoglio
Jim Gianoglio is our Digital Analytics Engineer. He works with implementation, analysis of Google Analytics, and spearheads the LunaMetrics Google Analytics seminars across the country. Want to see him in action? He'll be heading our Google Analytics training in Los Angeles. Before succumbing to the siren song of analytics, he led the SEO campaigns of Fortune 500 companies in the insurance, retail and CPG industries. Things you didn’t know about Jim: he runs marathons, photographs weddings and has done voiceovers for TV commercials.