Google Analytics Metrics And Dimensions

December 20, 2012
By Jim Gianoglio

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 400 (!) metrics and dimensions you can choose from when you’re creating a custom report or advanced segment. There is a very helpful Dimensions & Metrics Reference guide in the Google developer documentation. But before diving in, 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 400+ metrics and dimensions. The Dimensions & Metrics Reference lets you explore all the possible options through one of three modes: API, Web, and App. The API mode lets you view the dimensions and metrics according to how they are referenced through the API (e.g. ga:userType, ga:sessionCount, etc.). The Web and App modes list them all out according to how they are named in the interface (depending on whether you are tracking a web site or mobile application).

It also groups them by type, so you can see dimensions and metrics related to users, sessions, traffic sources, etc. If you click on a dimension or metric, it takes you to the definition of that dimension/metric.

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!