Google Analytics (GA) is a great tool for helping marketers track performance and gain insights about visitors. While GA comes with a few basic reports baked-in, with just a little a few extra clicks you can further segment the data to gain deeper insights about your customers. In this article, we’ll talk about using secondary dimensions– an often-underutilized part of Google Analytics’ functionality that can help you get more value from the tool.

Free Actionable Bonus: Looking to elevate your SEO strategy?We partnered with Jay Baer of Convince & Convert to create this free ebook on 6 Ways to Fix Your Barebones SEO Strategy


What are Secondary Dimensions?

Before we discuss the benefits of using secondary dimensions, it’s important to understand what they are. In Google Analytics, the term “dimension” is used to describe an attribute of your data–you can think of dimensions as categories to help you sort and identify traffic and users. A few examples of the most basic dimensions include City, Country, Gender, Keyword, and Browser.

Most of the basic reports offered by GA only use one dimension, known as the primary dimension; however, it’s possible to add another attribute–a secondary dimension–to a report.  Layering a secondary dimension onto a report can offer actionable insights that would be impossible to gain from standard reports.


Ideas for Using Secondary Dimensions

Now that you’re clear on what secondary dimensions are, you’re probably wondering what you can do with them. Here are a few powerful ways you can use them to turbocharge your Google Analytics reports:


Search Queries + Google Property

One of the basic Search Console reports provides a wealth of SEO-related information based on one dimension: the Google search queries that brought up your website’s URLs in search results. Even with this single dimension, called “Queries” in GA, you’ll be provided with several valuable metrics for analysis, such as Clicks and Average Position. However, you can take this report from a good report to a to great report by adding “Property” as a secondary dimension. This will break down your Google search traffic based on which Google property they came from, such as web search, mobile search or even image search.


AdWords Keywords + Ad Content

Want to get deeper insights into the performance of the ads on your website? Google Analytics offers a number of AdWords-specific reports that are available as long as your AdWords account is linked to your GA account. The Keywords report is a good example–not only does it let you see which keywords earn a lot of traffic, but it also tell you which keywords have a low revenue or high bounce rate. Insights like these help you identify keywords that aren’t a great match for your content. Try juicing up this Keywords report even further by adding the secondary dimension “Ad Content”. At this more granular level, you’ll be able to see which combination of keywords and headlines perform the best, allowing you to further optimize your PPC efforts.


All Pages + Medium

If you’re new to Google Analytics, one of the first reports you should check out is the All Pages report, found in the Behavior category of the tool. This report lists every single URL on your website, providing valuable information on traffic and other metrics. But what if you wanted to dig a little deeper and see which specific channels drive the most traffic to specific URLs? Once again, secondary dimensions can help. Add the dimension “Medium” to your All Pages report; this will tell you the top source of traffic for each of the pages on your site–site search, paid search, referral traffic and more.

While there’s no doubt that the basic reports offered by Google Analytics have real value, they only scratch the surface of the insights that the tool can provide. That’s where secondary dimensions can help, giving you the context you need to make informed decisions for your business. Dig in and experiment with your own reports to see which combinations of dimensions give you the best results.