Google Analytics: Understanding Key Terms

At first glance, your Google Analytics reports can seem overwhelming and may be hard to make sense of. If you’re unsure about certain aspects, and you skip over them without grasping the information, you may miss out on some useful insights your Google Analytics reports have to offer. 

To help with demystifying the data, we’re going to explain some of the more confusing Google terms and describe how they work together to provide the traffic insights you need. 

Dimensions & Metrics

Dimensions and metrics are two key factors that make up a Google Analytics report. Dimensions are the attributes used to differentiate and organise your website’s traffic data. They can be attributes like a user’s country of origin, or other aspects such as campaign, browser, source and medium, which we will explain in more detail below.   

Each dimension has different values associated with it. For example, the dimension “Browser” may contain the values Chrome, Safari, and Firefox. To get an even clearer picture, you can add a secondary dimension to analyse in conjunction with the first. So, if the first dimension is “Device Category” and the second is “Browser”, you can analyse the behaviours of users on the desktop who use Chrome, or mobile who use Safari for example. 

On the other hand, a metric is the numerical value of each dimension. Metric titles include sessions, users, pageviews, and more. All in all, dimensions, values and metrics combine to paint a picture of the data. For example, the number of users (metric) by city (dimension), including Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch (dimension values).  


The source is one dimension that may need some explaining. This is the place where the traffic to your website has arrived from. The source is usually a website, such as search engines, a social media site, or another website who has referred traffic to you. If nothing is showing for the source, this means the traffic was direct. Direct traffic occurs when users type your website straight into the browser or open a bookmark. 

Keeping track of your key traffic sources is important to see where users are coming from. If websites such as Google are not bringing in as much traffic as you would like, this could be a good time to think about getting some help with your search engine optimisation


Once you know where traffic is coming from, you need to understand how users are reaching your website from these places. This is called the medium in Google Analytics.

There are a few main medium categories to go over. If a user clicks on your website in the search engine results page, then the medium is “Organic”. Site visits from CPC/PPC advertising are classified as a “Paid” medium. Other mediums include referral and email. 


Segments allow you to filter your data by specific subsets. This is a very important action, as it allows you to get down to the nitty-gritty and reveal insights that may be hidden when your aggregate data is shown. Subset types you can filter by including users, sessions, and hits. For example, you may want to filter data by users who have made a previous purchase.

You can apply up to four segment filters to your data at a time, which is useful if you need to compare different subsets. For more specific analysis, you can set up custom segments. 

Need help with your digital analytics?

Google Analytics is a great tool that can help you make informed decisions and lead your business in the right direction. However, Google does provide copious amounts of data that can be difficult to sort through. 

If you need a hand making sense of it all, or are wondering where to from here, the SEO specialists at our digital marketing agency are ready to help. Get in touch with us at Pure SEO today to take your digital marketing to the next level!

Prabin Yonzon

Prabin is the SEO and Content Manager at Pure SEO. He spends a lot of his free time reading blogs about SEO, CRO, digital marketing, and eCommerce trends.

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