Google Analytics is an incredibly useful software. It can be used by webpage creators to track information like--
One of the most useful features found within Google Analytics is its dimensions feature. This feature is integral to the organization of data in Google Analytics as well as providing more layers of complexity to the data you’re analyzing. So, what are dimensions, how do we add them, and when do we use them?
As mentioned before, Google Analytics is a software designed to help you organize data related to your webpage. When looking at something like the age of people who visit your webpage, you may want to factor in additional information about this group to better understand the date. This is where you’d add an extra dimension to your data table.
Another dimension, in this case, could be something like gender. The age of the people visiting your page would be the primary dimension, this is going to be the first column on your data table in Google Analytics. The age of the individuals that visit your page would be in the secondary dimension which would be an additional column located right next to the primary one. You can think of it as a way of adding additional filters or layers to the data you’re analyzing. This allows us to see information that would otherwise be next to impossible to see in the standard methods of viewing.
Here is an example of what a data table looks like in Google Analytics, along with the location of the second dimension button. Image courtesy of Verticalrail.
All this talk about primary and secondary dimensions may sound like a lot of work but trust me, using a secondary dimension is much easier than you might initially think. So let’s take it step by step. Let’s assume you already have your data collected and you’re on your landing page.
After that, your second dimension should appear as a second column right next to the first. If you want more information about what the secondary dimension you selected is displaying you can click on the question mark icon next to the secondary column's title.
Google Analytics has a wide variety of dimension options available for you to choose from. If you’re curious, here is a link that lists a good number of them. This list also goes into more detail about combinations of dimension variables and metrics. If you aren’t satisfied with the list Google Analytics provides, you can create your own custom variables as well.
This image shows some of the dimensions you can choose from when in the secondary dimension’s dropdown menu. Image courtesy of School4seo.
We’ve gone over what the primary and secondary dimensions are but so what, why should you bother using them? What use does adding a secondary dimension actually have when analyzing data? Let’s start with context. The secondary dimension can add some valuable context to the data you're analyzing. For instance, let’s say you run a website that hosts videos for children. Having access to the age and gender of the children that visit your sight can help you improve your content for that specific demographic. Here is another example. Let’s say you run an online business and you are looking to transition into opening shops in physical locations for people to walk in and see/try your products.
Well, being able to see not just how many people are visiting your site, but from where in the world they are visiting from can be extremely helpful in deciding where you should open your first physical location. Examples like these are reasons people and businesses use secondary dimensions when analyzing their data.
Reorganizing the data you’ve collected with secondary dimensions can help you and your team optimize your business strategies. Image courtesy of Unsplash.
These extra layers of context can help prevent us from over-generalizing the results of our data. It can help us see outliers and inconsistencies in our data. For example, if you started a webpage that sells video games, you might be under the impression that the business is reaching your optimal number of consumers based just on the number of games sold.
But if we added a secondary dimension to that table for gender or age, you might find that your product is only popular with a specific group of people. This might make you consider new methods for expanding the appeal of your products to other demographics, or it could allow you to double down on the group you are popular with and design products that appeal to them even more than your previous ones did. This context from secondary dimensions allows us to reduce generalizations and focus on specifics.
We live in the age of “Big Data,” and being able to gather, understand, and use data effectively can be the deciding factor between your business venture succeeding or failing. Google Analytics allows you to gather your data effectively, and its secondary dimension feature allows you to understand the data you’ve gathered so that you can use it effectively. Secondary dimensions are a valuable tool for anyone who uses Google Analytics. Even if you’re just a simple blogger who wants to share his/her thoughts and opinions on the world, having that extra insight into who is visiting your site can help you better understand your reader base and grow as a blogger.