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Use Google Analytics to track recovery of your website traffic during COVID-19
29 May 2020 (Edited )
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Your traffic may already be up from last year

A question on the minds of many business and marketing people right now is: when should I begin to ramp up marketing and advertising as the world reopens and begins to adjust to the post-COVID-19 "new normal"?

One easy way that relies on real numbers - as opposed to "expert opinions" or other forms of guessing - is: look at the trend in your website traffic from March to June 2020, compared with the same period in 2019.

All you need is a Google Analytics account which has been running ands collecting data at least as far back as the range December 2018 to April 2019 (for your baseline), and has continued to record data in the period beginning in the December 2019 - March 2020 timeframe (to see traffic under conditions of the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic).

Assuming you have the necessary data:

  1. Log in to your Google account.
  2. Open Google Analytics.
  3. Go to the relevant account and campaign.
  4. In the left menu select Acquisition.
  5. In the dropdown menu that opens, select Channels.
  6. At top right, select a 2020 date range - in this example I've used 1 March to 31 May.
  7. Before leaving the date-range dialog, turn on (check) Compare and select Previous Year.
  8. Then, above the resultant time plot, at top left select Sessions from the dropdown.

That should give you a view like this:

In your live version of Google Analytics you can mouse over any data point on either of those curves to see the number of sessions (website visits) for any date.

Mousing over the blue 2020 line at 6 March 2020 I can see that there were 941 sessions that day, up 7.54% from the same date in 2019. So in early March, 2020 traffic was still coming along swimmingly.

But then a week later - 13 March 2020 - sessions were suddenly down 56.64% from 13 March 2019.

And sessions stayed down - nearly flat - until 12 April, when - although at that point down 67.47% from 2019 - the 2020 sessions began to trend up.

By 29 April, 2020 sessions had reached 978 - only 6.05% below 29 April 2019.

And on 23 May, 2020 sessions overtook 2019 performance (1300 vs. 1257), and since then 2020 traffic hasn't looked back, staying consistently ahead of 2019 for the rest of May.

If we haven't already, we need to start ramping up marketing and advertising right now!

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David Boggs MS    - David
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