I’m a tweaker by nature. I love to tweak and test and re-tweak and re-test settings on just about everything. When it comes to my site I also love to crunch my numbers. How fast does my site load? How is my site impacted if I change this setting? What about that setting? My site is definitely not static by any means. In this post, I’ll attempt to examine a question I get asked a LOT from fellow bloggers:
Why are my Google Analytics stats different than my WordPress | JetPack | Blogger.com stats?
Great question! Let’s get started.
The Stats Just Don’t Add Up
Stats and analytics are only as useful as they are accurate. That goes without saying. You’d think website hits would be pretty straight-forward: if someone visits your site and views a page, that’s a unique view. If they check out another page, that’s another page view. When they leave, that’s a ‘bounce’. Simple, right?
I run a number of WordPress-based sites and like to use at least two methods for tracking my stats: JetPack (lite) and Google Analytics. When I compare the stats for my sites in both platforms, the stats just don’t add up. If you use two (or more) platforms like this as a way of comparing I’m sure you’ve noticed something similar as well. But how do we found out what the possible cause(s) may be of this discrepancy?
The best way to tackle this discrepancy is to zero in on a very specific example to try and track down the possible causes.
JetPack Dashboard View
I’m going to take an example of a specific post and a specific time frame and zero in on the difference in stats between Google Analytics and JetPack stats. That way we know we’re comparing apples to apples, so to speak. First, let’s start by drilling down on a specific post in JetPack.
I go into ‘Site Stats’ on my left navigation menu and click the (very tiny) button to view the stats for this particular page. I’m going to zero-in on the stats only for the month of March. Here’s what I see:
Notice that JetPack has registered 1,041 clicks of this post for the month of March. The graph shows the distribution of those clicks over the duration of the month. However, when we take a look at the post view in Google Analytics, we see an entirely different story.
Google Analytics View
To get to the same view in Google Analytics I have to drill down a bit. To see the details of a single page or post, you can do the following:
- Click to expand the ‘Content’ menu.
- Expand the ‘Site Content’ sub-menu and choose ‘Pages’.
- Locate the specific page (they’re listed by URL) by either filtering or going through the pages of results. By default, they appear to be sorted by views in descending order.
- Click the link under the ‘Page’ column to filter on only the stats for that page (or post, in this case).
- Specify the time frame by choosing the corresponding start and end dates in the top-right.
Google is showing 1,185 page views for the exact same post and the exact same time frame. That’s a pretty significant difference in clicks! But where did all of those clicks go?
Possible Causes to the Difference
There are a number of reasons why the two tracking methods would be showing different results. Below are a few of the possibilities.
Tracking Logged-in Users
JetPack knows the difference between a user that has logged into the site and one that is visiting anonymously. This could be one possible cause for the difference in stats. This will typically cause your JetPack stats to appear inflated as compared to Google.
If you don’t allow user registrations on your site, you likely want to turn off the tracking of logged in users, since you’d only be tracking your own page views on your site. Turning off this function will provide you with the most accurate results possible. Turning off the tracking of loggin-in users in JetPack (and Lite) is done by performing the following steps:
- Click the Settings main menu.
- Go to the JetPack menu option.
- On the WordPress.com Stats section, click the Configure button.
- Toggle the option to count (or not) registered users – checked means those users that are logged in will have their stats included in the click counts.
Search Engine Hits
Chances are, search engines are crawling and indexing your site just about every day. It is my theory that some analytics platforms may count those “bot” crawls as hits as well. Reason would tell us that Google Analytics would filter out any of Google’s own crawler hits, but it may not be able to do the same for other search engines (Yahoo, Bing, Alexa, etc). This may be a possible cause if your JetPack hits are greater than your Google Analytics stats.
Improperly Configured Sites
Another possible cause to a discrepancy in site stats could be the configuration of the site itself. Google more recently went to a new, asynchronous method of tracking stats in Analytics. If it’s been a while since you’ve configured your site to use Google Analytics, you may want to update it to utilize the new method of tracking. More information on this can be found by clicking here.
The jury is still out as to the exact cause of gaps in statistics between the various platforms. In the mean time, continuing the focus on building quality content and solid relationships will be my focus. I’ll be keeping a watchful eye on my stats as I always do and reporting when something else just doesn’t quite add up.