The number everyone reports that has no value whatsoever

I am referring, of course, to “traffic change vs last month.”

As in, “June traffic was up 6% compared to May.” Every content operation I’ve seen has featured this stat in every monthly analytics report.

But what can you do with this number? Generally nothing.

If you are publishing on a new site or blog, you’d like to see a nice increase every month, for many months in a row. Outside of that, monthly traffic is affected by the number of work days, major holidays and summer vacations, and so on. Mature sites see this number go up a little one month, down a little the next month. It’s not informative.

Why report a number that is not meaningful or actionable?

Instead, consider year-over-year traffic, as in “June traffic was up 12% compared to the same month last year.” Same number of days, same season, and you can better see the site’s long-term trajectory.

It’s easy to view this number in Google Analytics.

Pull the camera back even further and show year-to-date traffic (and your other key metrics) vs. same period last year.

Now it’s clear whether your strategy is working or not.