Moving Averages: Don’t Focus on Daily Web Metrics

Sunday, September 30, 2007 at 7:00pm by Site Administrator

Bloggers and entrepreneurs who run/ own a website get obsessed with watching the day’s web metrics – especially if the website earns revenue. I’m no different. But what twelve years of working online has taught me is that you cannot get worried over a single’s days visitor metrics (unique visitors, pageviews, conversions, etc.). Else it’s too easy to not see the forest for the trees. Some tips:

  1. Expect daily fluctuations. Daily metrics will fluctuate for very human reasons. People may be impressed with your site’s offerings and will intend to come back “tomorrow” but might actually take a few days to return.

  2. Be patient, to a degree. If you’re selling something, don’t expect everyone that wants to buy to do so immediately. Buying products and services online is still a relatively new activity. You have to establish authority (such as through blogging) and trust, thus wooing buyers. But you do have to watch trends – you can’t be patient forever.
  3. See the forest for the trees. Focus on trended averages over time. These smooth out spikes and anomalies, and are a much better indicator of progress or decline

If you’ve got a bit of the geek in you, you can read up on Moving Averages, a measure that shows trended averages and can be calculated in a spreadsheet. The 30-second synopsis is that you calculating moving (sliding) averages over different windows of time (30, 60, 90 days, etc.) and plot them all simutaneously on a graph. The result will help you determine if the traffic/ pageviews/ sales in a given month was a random spike or if there’s a trend.

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