Google Analytics – Secondary Dimension

There is nothing wrong with your computer screen. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. For we are about to take a short blog adventure of awe and mystery into what is known as… “The Secondary Dimension”*

Google Analytics reporting

Google analytics and Web Master Tools are mandatory products these days for any website owner who takes their online presence seriously, and they are likely to be using both these web tools as well as many other types of analytical plugins and possibly some subscription based services too. Keeping up to date information on your website is imperative, but don’t exclude monitoring your competition too. In his book “Web Analytics 2.0” Avinash Kaushik compares the behaviour of web analytical teams focusing only on their own online performance, to be similar to driving a car with blacked out windows staring at the speedometer. How to monitor your competition will be the subject of another post however, in this post I wanted to draw some attention to a part of the Google Analytics service that is often overlooked… “The Secondary Dimension”*.

Organic traffic sources

Search engines are changing the way they deliver information to analytics packages from users who are signed into their search engine platforms; Google-plus, Gmail, etc . In a web search where a user is logged in, the search query returned is labelled “not provided” in published analytical data. This change is meant to protect users’ privacy however Adwords customers are able to access this data, so this explanation doesn’t seem to hold water.

Customised Landing Pages

If you log in to your own G-analytics you will see this data under Traffic Sources/ Sources / Search / Organic. There you will probably see somewhere between 20-30% of your organic traffic search queries are hidden behind this “Not Provided” search term. So what can you do, first I would suggest clicking the result and then from here we can use.. “the secondary dimension”* to find out more.

A good start would be using “Landing page” as the dimension (that shall no longer be named). This option will filter the information gathered and help to give you a better understanding of how this mystery traffic entered your site, and what keywords or intent might have driven their interest to your website. It is quite easy to run these off as custom reports or even create dashboard items that will monitor this data.

As this information represents a percentage of your traffic it may very well be mirroring the data you receive from non-signed in users. Using these dimension options such as “Visitors”, “Sources” or “Technology” you should be able to accurately estimate how well this private traffic reflects your average visitor.

The final thing to mention is that “keyword” can be chosen as a secondary dimension itself. So when running reports looking at browser use or geographic location you can add this in, again this will give you an idea of how this cloaked traffic matches up to your open traffic.

If you want to go one step further you can customise your landing pages to capture attention based on specific keyword phrases, however, I don’t see this as useful for “Keyword research” and there are much better ways of monitoring “keyword performance” particularly if you have a sharp eye on your competition.

*Try saying this phrase in a deep voice similar to the Twilight zone opening


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