Before you dive into your Google Analytics reports, let’s get familiar with the basics of what types of data is in there. You won’t see these clearly labeled around the dashboard, so it’s important to know which is which to maneuver through the reports.
Metrics vs Dimensions, what the heck do they mean?
First off, these are two categories digital analytics are grouped into. It’s the type of data that is being captured that distinguishes them.
Dimensions: what is being measured (text)
Metrics: actual measurement values (numeric)
Dimensions are qualitative characteristics of the user where it describes the user’s behavior, location, device. Even if the value is numeric, dimensions are always categories. Then, metrics will quantify how many had that characteristic. The different metrics can go from how many users based on a cookie all the way to a single page view.
Here are a couple simple examples to help you wrap your mind around it:
Metric: page views
Dimension: mobile devices
One last takeaway, before you go...
Session-based dimensions do not mix with page-based dimensions in Google Analytics. Sessions are measuring each individual visit that groups all the page views in one sitting, without a 30-minute inactive period. So you won’t be able to pull pages and automatically see the label “sessions.” It will be labeled “unique page views” instead. This is to prevent any confusion between the metrics as it pertains to the report you’re looking at.
I promise, this is the last one.
Bounce rate is also a metric limited to a few reports as its definition does not apply everywhere. Bounce rate in definition is how many people are leaving the website after just one page view. So keep in mind, bounce rate is most useful for only “Landing page” and “Channels” reports. There are rare cases where you’d use it for Mobile Device to indicate a poor mobile experience as well.
Feel free to view all the dimensions and metrics in one clean view here.
Are you ready to dive into the Google Analytics reports? Here's an article to get you started.