Google Analytics Custom Dimensions Beginner's Guide

The Beginners Guide to Custom Dimensions in Google Analytics

Want to track your own custom data in Google Analytics?

With custom dimensions, you can track some “extra” data that Google Analytics doesn’t track out of the box.

For example, you could track which of your blog’s authors are getting the most views, what content a specific user is browsing, which of your targeted keywords are bringing in the most traffic, and more.

In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about custom dimensions.

MonsterInsights is the best WordPress Analytics plugin. Get it for free!

Table of Contents

  1. What Are Custom Dimensions?
  2. Examples of Custom Dimensions
  3. How to Set Up Custom Dimensions Tracking in 2 Minutes
  4. How to View Custom Dimensions in Google Analytics

What Are Custom Dimensions?

Every Google Analytics report contains two types of data: dimensions and metrics.

Dimensions are attributes of your website visitors, like what city they’re from, what page they viewed, or what source they came from.

Metrics are measurements, like number of sessions, number of pageviews, or pages per session.

In a Google Analytics report like the one below, dimensions are shown in rows and metrics in the columns.

Dimension and Metrics in Google Analytics Report

In the screenshot above, the ‘country’ is the dimension and the data for each country like the number of users, sessions, bounce rate, revenue, etc. are the metrics.

Google Analytics tracks certain dimensions and metrics by default. Gender, age, region, source/medium, product, and goals are some of the predefined dimensions. Pageviews, bounce rate, and average time on a page are some predefined metrics.

But what if you want to track more dimensions?

That’s when the custom dimensions option comes handy.

Custom dimensions are just like default dimensions, except you create them yourself. They’re greatly helpful to collect and analyze data that matters to your website, that Google Analytics doesn’t automatically track.

The main benefit of setting up custom dimensions is that it allows you to track the performance of extra things that matter to your website, like Author, Category, Tags, and more in Google Analytics.

Examples of Custom Dimensions

Now, let’s take a look at a few possible use cases of custom dimensions on your WordPress website.

1. Logged In

This is an awesome dimension for gaining deeper insights about your users who log in. For example, if you’re an eCommerce shop owner, you can create reports to see data like gender, top pages or revenue of your logged-in users. This way, you can personalize their shopping experience of your customers based on what kinds of preferences you see in the reports.

Logged in vs Logged out User Sessions - MonsterInsights Custom Dimensions Dashboard

2. User ID

You can get detailed insights about visitor interaction and the preferences of logged in users on a membership site by setting User ID as a custom dimension. Check what content they’re interested in to send them targeted email marketing messages, for example.

To get an idea of how User ID tracking works, head to Audience » User Explorer in Google Analytics:

User ID tracking in Google Analytics

These IDs are randomly assigned to your visitors. When you set up the custom dimension with MonsterInsights, we’ll replace that ID with your users’ unique IDs, for even better tracking.

3. Post Type

If you have several custom post types in your WordPress site, you can track the performance of each post type with custom dimensions.

For example, imagine that you run a review site in which you review several categories of products. If you define each product category as a custom post type, you can track how users interact on each category and gather valuable data about it.

popular post type

4. Author

If you run a multi-author blog, you can identify what content type works best for each author, or which author seems to resonate the most with visitors. It helps you to curate future blog post ideas for each author and restructure your content marketing strategy.

If you’re running a multi-author blog, author tracking gives you valuable insights on the performance of your blog authors.

You can discover:

  • The most popular author of your blog
  • How many pageviews each author is getting
  • Which author’s posts keep visitors on your site by analyzing the bounce rate
  • And more

Most-Popular-Authors-Custom-Dimensions-Report-Monsterinsights

5. Category

Tracking the performance of different categories on your site is another great strategy to identify what type of content or which subject works best. This data can be helpful to save your time and money.

For example, you can stop spending time on a category that your visitors are not interested in, and invest your time and money in the ones that work best.

Most popular categories report

For more on category tracking, read How to Track WordPress Categories in Google Analytics (The Simple Way).

6. Published at

Do your latest articles gain traction among your audience?

For example, if most of your popular content was written a year ago, that reveals that your latest articles are not gaining enough traction among your audience. In that case, you can focus on writing great content and promote your latest articles in your niche.

Best publication time report

7. Tags

Tags give you even more detailed insights about what works best on your site. Since your tags are probably micro-targeted, you’ll see at more of a keyword level which content your audience is viewing the most. It also helps you to come up with future content ideas for your site, based on which tags are the most popular.

Most Popular Tags report

8. TruSEO Score or SEO Score

If you’re using the All in One SEO plugin, you can analyze the TruSEO score of your posts and pages in Google Analytics. It helps you to identify if your SEO scores really impact your organic traffic.

You can get a data-driven report based on your SEO scores, which help you restructure your SEO strategy for improving organic traffic.

If you use the Yoast SEO plugin, you’ll be able to set up a custom dimension for the SEO Score.

9. Focus Keyphrase or Focus Keyword

Focus Keyphrase is another custom dimension you can set for your site. It is also applicable only if you’re using the All in One SEO plugin (or Yoast). Setting a Focus Keyphrase for each piece of content on your site helps you optimize it to perform well in search engines.

You can see the most popular All in One Focus Keyphrases that are driving the most organic traffic and get data-driven insights about choosing upcoming content.

Focus Keyphrase report

If you use the Yoast SEO plugin, you’ll be able to set up a custom dimension for the Focus Keyword.

How to Set Up Custom Dimensions Tracking in 2 Minutes

If you look up how to set up custom dimensions in Google Analytics support, you’ll probably see this:

“After you create custom dimensions or metrics in your property, you must also modify your tracking code. This should be completed by a qualified developer.”

Yikes!

Want to skip all of that? Yeah, we would too! That’s why MonsterInsights users can set up a whole list of custom dimensions with a couple clicks, and zero coding.

MonsterInsights is the best Google Analytics plugin for WordPress because not only does it make custom dimension setup simple, it allows you to easily connect your WordPress site with Google Analytics.

monsterinsights wordpress plugin

With MonsterInsights installed, many of the important Google Analytics reports you need to grow your business are right inside your WordPress dashboard.

Plus, with the click of a button, you can set up sophisticated tracking features such as event tracking, eCommerce tracking, form tracking, custom dimension tracking, outbound link tracking, and more.

Get Started with MonsterInsights Today!

With MonsterInsights, you can easily set up the following custom dimensions:

  • Logged in Users
  • User Id
  • Post Type
  • Author
  • Category
  • Published at
  • Tags
  • TruSEO Score
  • Focus Keyphrase

Ready to get started tracking these? Let’s dive in.

Step 1: Install MonsterInsights and Custom Dimensions

To be able to set up custom dimensions on your site, you’ll need the MonsterInsights plugin at the Pro level or above, and the Custom Dimensions addon. Let’s go over how to get these set up.

First, you’ll need to install MonsterInsights on your site and connect it to Google Analytics.

For the full tutorial on those steps, read How to Add Google Analytics to WordPress (The RIGHT Way).

Next, you’ll want to install the Custom Dimensions addon.

To install the addon, visit the Insights » Addons page in your WordPress dashboard. Then, click Install under the MonsterInsights Custom Dimensions addon.

Install-MonsterInsights-Dimensions-Addon

Step 2: Add Custom Dimensions in MonsterInsights

Navigate to Insights » Settings from your dashboard and click on the Conversions tab.

Conversions Tab in MonsterInsights

Scroll down to the Custom Dimensions section and click on Add new custom dimension. Choose the dimension(s) you’d like to set up from the dropdown.

Add a new custom dimension in MonsterInsights

Don’t worry which number is in the ID column. We’ll use those in step 4.

Step 3: Set Up Custom Dimensions in Google Analytics

Now that you’ve set up Custom Dimensions on your website, the next step is to set them up in Google Analytics.

To get started, you can log into Google Analytics, and select the website in which you’d like to set up custom dimensions.

Choose a Google Analytics account and view

Now, click on the Admin tab in the left panel. On the Admin page in the middle column, click Custom Definitions and then Custom Dimensions.

Custom Dimensions in Google Analytics

You’ll see a table where you can click + New Custom Dimension. Click on it.

New Custom Dimension

Now you can fill in the name of your new Custom Dimension and click Create. You don’t have to change any of the other settings.

Add a New Custom Dimension on Google Analytics

On the next screen, you can just click Done.

Repeat the steps above for all custom dimensions you want to add to your website.

Step 4: Match Custom Dimension IDs

The final step is to check that the index number in Google Analytics corresponds with the Custom Dimension ID in the MonsterInsights settings.

First, check the index number for your custom dimensions in Google Analytics.

Dimension Index

Next, go back to your Custom Dimensions settings in MonsterInsights. Make sure the Custom Dimension ID corresponds to the index number in Google Analytics. If not, type in the correct number and click Save Changes.

Custom dimensions setup in MonsterInsights

How to View Custom Dimensions in Google Analytics

The best way to view the Custom Dimensions report is by using MonsterInsights Dashboard reports. You can view the most comprehensive reports right inside your WordPress dashboard, without having to open your Google Analytics account.

You can view your custom dimensions reports in the MonsterInsights dashboard by going to Insights » Reports » Dimensions.

Custom Dimensions Report

Now you will see your Custom Dimensions reports in simple, beautiful charts. Here’s how your Authors report would appear in MonsterInsights dashboard reports.

Most Popular Authors - Custom Dimensions Report - MonsterInsights

In Google Analytics, you can find the custom dimensions report in two ways:

  1. Using a standard report
  2. Creating a custom report

Let’s take a detailed look at how to find custom dimensions in Google Analytics using both methods, step by step.

1. Find Custom Dimensions in a Standard Report

This is probably the easiest way to find your custom dimensions report in Google Analytics (besides viewing it in MonsterInsights). All you need to do is to add a secondary dimension to your standard report.

First, you’ll need to log in to your Google Analytics account, and select the website you’d like to find your Custom Dimensions report in.

Choose a Google Analytics account and view

For the sake of this example, let’s add a custom dimension as a secondary dimension to your All Pages report.

In the left panel, choose Behavior » Site Content » All Pages. You can find a button labeled Secondary dimension just above the table.

Add a secondary dimension to the all pages report

Click on it, search for and click on your custom dimension.

Add a secondary dimension to the all pages report in Google Analytics

Now, you’ll have a report that shows your top pages plus which author published them.

Author as a secondary dimension in the all pages report in Google Analytics

You can add a custom dimension as a secondary dimension to any other standard report in Google Analytics, too. Add it to the Landing Pages report or the Channels report, for instance.

2. Create a Custom Report for Custom Dimensions

You can create a custom report by choosing a custom dimension as the primary dimension. Creating a custom report is a great choice for you if…

  • You want to label your custom dimension as the primary dimension.
  • You want to add more than two dimensions (custom reports can have 5 dimensions) per row. The standard report allows you to use only two dimensions.

Log in to your Google Analytics account, and select the website you’d like to find your Custom Dimension reports in.

Choose a Google Analytics account and view

Then, click the Customization » Custom Reports tab in the left panel. You can now click the + New Custom Report button.

Add a custom report in Google Analytics

Now you’ll need to tell Google Analytics what to include in your report.

In this guide, we’ll create a report to show us the number of pageviews by author. We named our report Pageviews by Author.

Under Metric Groups, click the + add metric button. Type pageviews in the search field. Then click on the Pageviews metric under the Users heading.

Add a metric to a custom report

After that, you can click the + add dimension button and then click Custom Dimensions to specify the Custom Dimension you want to report.

Add author to your custom report

When you’re done, click the Save button at the bottom.

That’s it! Now you’ll see your new report.

Pageviews by author custom report

Now you can access it at any time in your Custom Reports area (where we went to create the report).

We hope this guide helped you to gain some insights about creating custom dimensions in Google Analytics. You may also want to see our definitive guide to Google Analytics for publishers.

You might want to check out our guide on creating a goal to track conversions in Google Analytics. And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube for more helpful Google Analytics tips.

Want to Try MonsterInsights for Free?

Enter the URL of Your WordPress website to install MonsterInsights Lite.

Add a Comment

We're glad you have chosen to leave a comment. Please keep in mind that all comments are moderated according to our privacy policy, and all links are nofollow. Do NOT use keywords in the name field. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation.

This form is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.