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Custom Dimensions in Google Analytics

The Beginner’s Guide to Custom Dimensions in Google Analytics

Do you want to track custom dimensions in Google Analytics?

Custom dimensions are a great way of tracking data that Google Analytics doesn’t track or report by default. By setting up custom dimensions, you can view additional data in Google Analytics (and Analytify) and discover better insights into your website traffic.

In this article, we’ll cover the fundamentals of custom dimensions in Google Analytics, their setup, and how you can track them in Google Analytics and Analytify. 

Table of Content

What Are Custom Dimensions in Google Analytics?

Consider the following screenshot of the Google Analytics channel-wise traffic breakdown.

Google Analytics Channel Traffic Report

You can see the five channel groups in the leftmost column and several metrics in the right-hand column. Each entry in the channel group column is a dimension representing a specific traffic attribute. For instance, the first row is about the Referral dimension. The following columns track the data and present several metrics such as Bounce Rate and Sessions. 

Dimensions are attributes that designate specific data segments. Metrics give a quantifiable aspect to dimensions so that you can see the trends in data. By default, Google Analytics tracks website traffic and user behavior data under several dimensions and metrics. These preset dimensions and metrics are known as predefined dimensions and metrics. 

However, you’ll soon find out that the preset dimensions and metrics aren’t enough to track certain aspects of your online business. Fortunately, you can set up and track custom dimensions in Google Analytics to collect and analyze data that isn’t collected by default. 

For many website owners, custom dimensions are a great way of segmenting website data that they believe is important for decision-making. Google Analytics allows you to create custom dimensions under 9 categories

Let’s go into the details of these categories.

Author Tracking

Suppose you have several writers contributing to your blog (or you regularly publish guest posts by specific writers). In that case, you need to know the performance of each writer in terms of popularity. For this, you can set up Author Tracking as a custom dimension. This would help you track insights such as:

  • The pageviews generated by the authors
  • The engagement data for each author 

With this custom dimension in Google Analytics, you get a clear idea of the popularity of writers you have on your website. In addition, you can better plan your content calendar to focus on topics that received the most engagement. 

Custom Post Types

Custom posts are a powerful way of customizing content presentation in WordPress. By default, you won’t find much support for custom post types in Google Analytics. However, the Custom Posts custom dimension allows you to track the performance of each custom post.

To understand the benefit of this custom dimension, imagine that you run a food review blog where you have a custom post type for different cuisines. With custom post tracking, you can see each post type’s performance and which cuisine is popular with your audience.   

Category

If you have several categories on your website, you need to know which ones are getting the most attention from the visitors. This essential information can help you better allocate your budget and efforts for maximum impact. 

The Category custom dimension in Google Analytics is an excellent option for understanding the performance of website categories so that you can modify the allocation of your content calendar slots, ad spent, and the efforts of your team to gain better engagement from the website visitors. 

Published At

As you may know, there is a specific time of the day when your website receives the highest number of visitors. This applies to all digital marketing activities, such as social media posts and email marketing. The Published At custom dimension allows you to see a report wherein all posts are sorted by the traffic they receive, along with the date and time of publication.  

Logged in Sessions

This custom dimension is crucial for websites that offer membership, courses, or eCommerce products. You want to see the number of website visitors that logged in to their accounts. This is an important report where you can see the number of users who’re logged in to your website.  

UserID

By default, Google Analytics assigns a random instance ID to each visitor. As you can imagine, these ids aren’t user-friendly. However, if you have a membership site or an eCommerce store, you want to identify the users by their registered usernames. This is a great help in analyzing user behavior and user journey.

Tags

When compared to categories, tags offer more detailed insights into the popular content on your website. Tags are often better suited to identify the interest of the users because of the narrow focus of tags. Very often, you’ll see multiple tags associated with a post. The Tags custom dimension presents the number of sessions. You can thus see the most popular topics that received the most attention from the users. 

Yoast SEO Score

If you use Yoast to optimize your website for better SERP ranking, you know that Yoast assigns an SEO score to posts and pages. With this custom dimension, you can track the Yoast SEO score for your posts. In addition, you can combine user sessions and SEO scores to better understand the outcome of your SEO efforts. 

Focus Keyword

This custom dimension in Google Analytics shows the focus keywords you assigned to a post or page in the Yoast SEO plugin. A quick look at the focus keywords allows you to see the top keywords that bring in traffic to your website. 

How To Setup Custom Dimensions in Google Analytics

Setting up custom dimensions in Google Analytics is easy. 

Start by going to Admin and clicking Custom Definitions. A new sub-menu with two options will pop up. Choose Custom Dimensions to go to the next screen. 

Custom Dimension menu

On the next screen, click the red + NEW CUSTOM DIMENSION to add a new dimension.

Add new custom dimension

On the next screen, give a name to the dimension and select the Scope from the menu. There are four ways you can set the scope of the custom dimensions.

Hit: Choose this if the dimension will track a standalone event such as a pageview or file download.

Session: Choose this if the dimension is meant to track multiple hits in a specific time duration. 

Product: This option is applied to all instances of the product for which it is set.

User: Choose this if you want to apply the dimension to all the hits in the current and future sessions. This scope applies until you change this value or mark the custom dimension as inactive. 

Click Create to finalize the process. You might see a screen with some example code snippets. Hit Done to exit this screen. 

Create custom dimension

On the next screen, you’ll find the list of available dimensions. Note that each custom dimension in Google Analytics has an index value. This value becomes important when we’ll use it to set up custom dimension reports in Analytify.

list of custom dimensions

View Custom Dimensions in Google Analytics

To demonstrate, we’ll use the All Pages report, found under Behavior >> Site Content

Click Secondary dimension and select Custom Dimensions. The drop-down menu will expand to show the custom dimensions you set up earlier. 

Google Analytics custom dimension selection

You will see a new report that shows the data for the custom dimension. 

Set Up Custom Dimensions in Analytify

Analytify is a fantastic WordPress Google Analytics plugin that brings all important website traffic and user behavior information to your website. Whether you are a novice or a seasoned expert, Analytify simplifies the process of tracking and viewing essential stats, including custom dimensions. 

We assume that you have installed Analytify on your website and that it is properly set up. Now we’ll show you how you can track custom dimensions in Analytify.

Add Google Analytics Custom Dimensions Information to Analytify

Setting up custom dimensions in Analytify is a simple matter of adding the name and the index value to the settings. 

Go to Analytify Settings and hover over Tracking. Select Custom Dimensions from the menu. 

Analytify Custom dimension settings

Click the Add Dimension button, revealing a drop-down menu from which you can select a custom dimension. In the box beside it, enter the index value you got from Google Analytics. Remember to click Save Changes to finalize the settings. 

Finalize settings

How to View Custom Dimensions in Analytify

Now that you’ve set custom dimensions in Analytify viewing the data for these custom dimensions is easy. 

Got to the Analytify dashboard and hover over the Engagement tab. From the submenu, click Dimensions. You’ll see a new screen where you can see the data for all custom dimensions you set up earlier. 

Analytify Dashboards Custom Dimension

Conclusion

In this article, we covered the basics of custom dimensions and how you can track data for these dimensions in both Google Analytics and Analytify. These dimensions often reveal important data insights that you might overlook when looking at the default dimensions. Analytify allows you to see all the data for custom dimensions within the website dashboard to help you make informed decisions. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How are Custom Dimensions in Google Analytics different from default dimensions?

Custom Dimensions differ from default dimensions in the sense that you create custom dimensions to get data insights not provided by the default dimensions.

How many custom dimensions can I have?

At the moment, Google Analytics limits you to 20 custom dimensions per account.

That’s all! You can also check out How to Measure Social Media ROI With Google Analytics and How to Use Google Analytics to Increase Traffic.

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