Dear Google Analytics – Where Are All My Stats?

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?

Not exactly.

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.

Post Stats blogging  Dear Google Analytics   Where Are All My Stats?I go into ‘Site Stats’ on my left navigation menu and click the (very tiny) button Screen Shot 2012 04 15 at 9.19.57 AM blogging  Dear Google Analytics   Where Are All My Stats? 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:

  1. Click to expand the ‘Content’ menu.
  2. Expand the ‘Site Content’ sub-menu and choose ‘Pages’.
  3. 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.
  4. Click the link under the ‘Page’ column to filter on only the stats for that page (or post, in this case).
  5. 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?

Google Analytics Stats 300x126 blogging  Dear Google Analytics   Where Are All My Stats?

Click for a larger view.

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

Screen Shot 2012 04 15 at 9.43.04 AM 300x226 blogging  Dear Google Analytics   Where Are All My Stats?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:

  1. Click the Settings main menu.
  2. Go to the JetPack menu option.
  3. On the WordPress.com Stats section, click the Configure button.
  4. 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.

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Comments

  1. says

    Hi Daniel. Thank you for that post. I am quite new to this whole Website business and I have been trying to work out why my stats seem to be different with everyone who counts them. I bought some Facebook advertising credit and I found that their stats are also completely different from everyone else’s. Do you have any idea why that might be? By the way… Congratulations, its a great blog!

  2. says

    Hi Daniel, this is really confusing to get variable stats and most of the time cookies is a better option to get rid of these kind of uneven results. I haven’t tried JetPack before, thanks for suggesting, I hope it removes the issue.

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