A few days ago, my co-worker Jennifer showed me something in Google Analytics that I found very interesting.
When performing a Date-Range Comparison on any number of reports, be very aware of exactly where you put each date or date-range. Google Analytics uses two dates for a Date-Range Comparison: a “First Date” and a “Second Date”. The images below show that I’ve selected February 2007 as my First Date, and March 2007 as my Second Date:
Most people, like myself, would think of using the First Date Calendar for the earliest date (as in the Date Range that happened first), and the Second Date Calendar for the latest date (as in the Date Range that happened last). However, look at what happens when you do just that:
Do you see that? It lists the First Date (February) below the Second Date (March). This is “backwards”, simply because we are all programmed to read things from top to bottom. It’s also not what we are looking for — the month of March had more Visits and Pageviews per Vist than February, so how was there a -26.17% and -9.70% Change, respectively?
So, if we’re trying to look at a comparison between February and March, to see how March did in comparison to February, you would have to make the First Date your most recent date (March), and your Second Date your oldest date (February). When you do that, your report will then look like this:
Now, that’s better! There was a +35.44% increase in Visits, and a +10.74% increase in Pageviews per Visit from February to March.
So, when you want to compare two Date-Ranges, make sure you use your most recent date as your First Date, and your oldest date as your Second Date.