Google Analytics (GA) is a wondrous thing. Simple to install. Easy to use. 

But for all its ubiquity, very few users do more with Google Analytics than just scratching the surface of the reports. And that’s a shame. There’s so much to be gleaned from a few clicks.

According to W3Techs Surveys, GA now possesses a staggering 82 percent market share in the web analytics industry. So what can all of those users do to transform ordinary GA reports into extraordinary?

Today we’re going to cover four specific uses of the Secondary Dimension tool in GA -- a resource even analytics novices can utilize to find gems of business learning.

What are Secondary Dimensions?

Good question. To answer that, we first need to know what a dimension is. In GA, a dimension is defined as a “descriptive attribute or characteristic of an object that can be given different values.”

Some examples of dimensions in GA are Browser, Source and Exit Page. Values for the Browser dimension would include things like Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome.

For each of those values, GA provides metrics for analysis. Some examples of metrics in GA are Visits, Bounce Rate and Revenue.

Most reports in GA, if not all, show just one dimension and a half-dozen or so metrics.

Secondary Dimensions are additional attributes you can layer on to your reports to provide more insight into the main dimension.

Where can I find Secondary Dimensions?

In almost every GA report, there’s a ribbon between the metric cards and the data table. It looks like this:


In it, you see the Primary Dimension of the report you’re looking at and a dropdown where you can specify a Secondary Dimension.

When you click on the dropdown and start typing the dimension you’re looking for, Google will automatically find it:


Site Content > All Pages Report, Secondary Dimension Medium

Anyone can find which channels are driving the most visits to their website, but which channels are driving the most page views to specific pages? That’s a bit hazier.

In any Content Report, choose Medium as your Secondary Dimension and you can solve that problem:


In my case, a lot of page views on my blog come from organic search. But for your business, you might have a lot of paid search or referral traffic to particular pages. And each channel might have a vastly different reaction to your content. Make note of those differences and use it to improve your landing pages for each channel.

Advertising > AdWords Keywords, Secondary Dimension Ad Content

Any paid search professional worth their salt is always running ad tests -- at the very least -- with some different headlines. Specifying Ad Content as your Secondary Dimension can illuminate which keyword/headline combos are most successful in your PPC account and allow you to channel more impressions to those:


SEO > Queries, Secondary Dimension Google Property

Search Engine Optimization is a great source of traffic for business everywhere, but there are a lot of Google properties where you can get ranked. Your SEO Queries report -- which requires connecting GA with your Google Website Optimizer account -- allows you to breakdown exactly where on Google you’re showing up:


In that case, all the clicks came from regular visits.

But it also lists out when you appear in Google Image Search …


… or when you appear in a Mobile search!


Events > Top Events, Secondary Dimension Event Action

This one requires a bit of extra setup. Event Tracking can be established through GA using a few extra lines of JavaScript on the elements you want to track, for more detailed on-page insight.

For my blog, I’m using Yoast’s Google Analytics for WordPress plugin to automatically append Event Tracking code on all my outbound links.

In this case, I want to see where folks are going when they leave my site. If you’re an affiliate marketer, this can be a big deal -- to see just how many people are leaving your site to take action on an offer:



Utilize the four examples here to your heart’s content. But I really encourage you to play with the Secondary Dimension feature on your own and discover new ways to slice and dice the data in GA reports to get deeper levels of insight.

Editor's Note: Interested in reading more from this month's focus on improving the customer experience with data and analytics?