Dimensions and Metrics:

Google Data Basis

Google Analytics data is based on two aspects...

  1. Dimensions: labels that describe data (characteristics of your users, their sessions, and actions)
  2. Metrics: numeric measurements (quantitative measurements of users, sessions, and actions — numbers)

All reports, including standard reports, custom reports, and APIs are based on Google Analytic’s dimension and metrics. Standard reports are pre-aggregated, meaning the numbers are pre-calculated before you even look at the report. Non-pre-aggregated reports,  such as a custom report or a standard report with an added segment, can be sampled, meaning that the numbers are calculated on the fly from a subset of the data if the dataset is large.

DIMENSIONS

Dimensions are labels that describe data, typically appearing as the rows of reports.

  • URLs: Hostname, Page, Landing Page, Exit Page, Previous Page, Next Page
  • Traffic sources: Source, Medium, Campaign, Keyword, Referral Path, Social Network
  • Geography: Country, Region, City, Metropolitan Area
  • Demographics: Gender, Age

A dimension is the attribute of visitors to your website. For example, a visitor of your website could have the following attributes and values:

  • Gender: male
  • Age: 25-34
  • City: Chicago
  • Source / Medium: Instagram / Organic
  • Keyword: Small Business Consulting
  • Browser: Firefox
  • Device Category: Desktop
  • Operating System: Windows

METRICS

Metrics are measurements, or in other words a metric is used to measure one of the characteristics of a dimension. They are always numerical and will typically appear as the columns of reports.

  • User metrics: Users, % New Sessions
  • Session behavior metrics: Bounce Rate, Pages/Sessions, Avg. Session Duration, Conversion Rate
  • Campaign metrics: Impressions, Clicks, CTR, CPC

A dimension can have one or more characteristics. For example, a visitor of your website could have the following characteristics of the Source/Medium dimension called 'Instagram/Organic':

  • Sessions: 340 
  • % New Sessions: 73%
  • New Users: 50
  • Bounce Rate: 15%
  • Pages / Sessions: 7.74
  • Avg. Session Duration: 3:45
  • Goal Conversion Rate: 10%
  • Goal Completions: 34
  • Goal Value: $40

Differences Dimensions vs. Metrics

DIFFERENCE #1: CONFIGURED, COLLECTED, PROCESSED, REPORTED, QUERIED

Dimensions and metrics are both characteristics of your website visitors, but the way they are configured, collected, processed, reported, and queried in Google Analytics is different. For example, you can't use dimension as a metric or vice versa.

DIFFERENCE #2: STAND-ALONE MEANING

 A dimension provides context to a metric so without a dimension a stand-alone metric is meaningless to analyze and report. For example, the metric 'sessions' is meaningless on its own until you use it together with dimensions like 'source/medium', 'country', etc.

DIFFERENCE #3: THREE METRIC CATEGORIES

  1. Acquisition: How visitors arrive at your website (sessions, % new sessions, new users)
  2. Behavior: How visitors interacted with your website (bounce rate, page/sessions)
  3. Conversions: How visitors completed conversions on your website (goal conversion rate, goal completions, goal value)

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