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How to give meaning to your website statistics

Have you ever dived into Google Analytics, extracted lots of interesting information about your website visitors, but ended up with no more idea about how to improve web traffic and conversions than before you started?

If so, it is very likely to be because you are missing a vital ingredient. The ingredient that, when applied to your numbers, turns them from being interesting but abstract statistics to useful information that you can base decisions on and grow your business.

What you are missing is a frame of reference: a context that will help you relate the data to the real world.

How do you put your website statistics into context?

Here are three examples of how you can give meaning to your website statistics:

Event diary

Keep a diary of events and activities that should have influenced your business. You can even add these into Google Analytics as annotations to make their affect easier to spot.

Comparing the relevant statistics from your website traffic to a when the marketing email was sent out, the trade show was running, the adverts were placed etc will help you understand and quantify the impact these activities generated.

Connecting different data sets

Another way is to match up different sets of data within Google Analytics.

For example, a report that shows where your visitors come from is interesting, but a report that shows where visitors come from along with the average time on site for those visitors is empowering. It tells you where the visitors who are most interested in you come from and, hence, which of the sources of traffic are likely to generate the best returns if developed.

Historical comparison

You can also use history as your context. Rather than just looking at a metric, such as visits, for the past 30 days, look over the past 12 months and compare it to the previous 12 months. This will highlight any long-term trends and seasonality, and indicate whether the latest figures show a change or are a reflecting a seasonal pattern.

Context Puts You in Control

By looking at your data in context you will start to gain insights into the factors that affect the behaviour of your website visitors. You stop being a powerless observer, wondering why things are going on, and move to a position where you know how to influence the outcome.