Understanding Your Data

Whether you’re new to web analytics or an experienced user, consider the 5 tips below to get started or to dig deeper into your results.

Keep in mind dashboard results may not reveal the reasons why website visitors behave the way they do, so consider combining website results with user experience research.

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5 Tips to Understand Your Data

  1. What questions do you want to answer?
  2. What are the baseline results or historical trends of the results?
  3. Are you familiar with your audience’s standard website activity?
  4. Are there external factors occurring or occurs seasonally that may affect results?
  5. How are visitors finding your pages?

What questions do you want to answer?

Depending on what site section or pages you’re reviewing, these questions may be very different from user to user.

Questions can include: What pages are the most viewed? What is the increase in sessions from this year versus last year? What are the most downloaded assets in the last 6 months? What Google search terms are being used to find the site? And on and on…

Understanding the questions you want to have answered can in turn help you understand if the performance of your pages are as expected or need to be optimized.

What are the baseline results or historical trends of the results?

For example, look at the daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly results. 

Are there are any patterns of peaks and valleys during these time periods over say the last few years? What tends to be the most popular pages? What are the most popular downloaded assets?

Keeping track of the average results or understanding how your results trend over time can help you monitor the health or performance of your pages. 

If there’s a sudden spike or drop, you will know because you know what is considered average.

Are you familiar with your audience’s standard website activity?

Have you done enough historical trending analysis to recognize what is “normal behaviour” for your audience?

Meaning, what tends to be the average time spent on the site for a given month? What tends to be the most viewed pages? What tends to be an average number of page views or sessions in a given time period? Etc.?

Being familiar with your audience’s normal website activity can help you spot sudden changes in behaviour. 

For example, if there is a sudden spike in traffic or drop in traffic or if there is a sudden popular page that was never a top performer.

Are there external factors occurring or occurs seasonally that may affect results?

For example, Are there weather events, marketing campaigns, major news events, deadlines, etc. that are occurring suddenly or occurs regularly that may affect your results?

Some pages may experience sudden surges or drops in activity due to external factors. 

Knowing what these external factors are can also help you understand the story of what is happening behind the results you are seeing.

How are visitors finding your pages?

Understand what Google search terms visitors are using to find your site. Are the search terms as expected? Are there any that stand out? 

Understand what traffic channels are the most used for visitors. Is the distribution as expected? 

Knowing where the site traffic is coming from can also help you understand your site performance and may help you influence your site’s results. 

For example, if people are finding your site through social media, but you don’t have a social media presence, maybe this is a channel to explore.