There is a great feature in Google Analytics that allows you to compare two date segments. It’s called ‘Date over Date Comparison’. You can use this feature on any report in GA that has a small calendar on the Date Range Menu. It’s purpose is to show trending in your data from one time period to another.
If you click on the little calendar graphic you’ll notice a second calendar appears below the standard date range calendar. Using this second calendar, you can specify a second date range that GA uses to compare data. Here’s an example of how the reports change using the Campaign Conversion Report.
So, why is this cool? Well, image you’ve seen a huge increase in traffic to your website in the past month and you need to figure out why. Robbin Steif blogged how you can trouble shoot an issue with your data by narrowing your date range. This is a fantastic method for finding out when your traffic changed. And if you’re tracking your online changes (advertising/site design) or configuration changes with a changelog then you can easily determine what may have altered your traffic.
But let’s assume we have no change log. Using Robbin’s method we may have figured out when our traffic increased, but we’re trying to figure out why it increased. This is where the date over date comparison helps. Start by isolating two date ranges. Then look at the Marketing Campaign reports. These show all the various sources for your site traffic. With the date comparison you can visually pick out which traffic sources have increase. See the image above. The arrows indicate trending.
The great thing about this report is that we can continue to segment the data. Let’s drill into the ‘referral’ line item. I noticed that my referral traffic was up 17%, how come? Clicking on the plus sign ‘+’ I can see the details of the referral traffic.
We can see that the traffic from Robbin’s blog, LunaMetrics, has increased while traffic from Avinash’s blog has decreased (slightly). We’re getting more insight into a particular segment of data (the referral traffic) by using the date over date comparison. And more insight is always a good thing.