Comments on: Why Google Analytics is flawed SEO industry Thoughts and Rants Sun, 12 Oct 2014 06:21:05 +0000 hourly 1 By: Tim Rowe Tue, 29 Dec 2009 02:06:58 +0000 I have 1and1 which is reporting 1000 hits to my site a day and GA is reporting 8 and this led me to believe they are probably both flawed but I do not trust GA’s accuracy.

By: Alan Bleiweiss Wed, 15 Apr 2009 22:50:49 +0000 Actual Metrics,

Thank you for taking the time to provide your insights. When it comes specifically to Google Analytics, you’ve actually re-asserted a number of my points as to why GA or any tracking solution is not 100% accurate. That’s the whole point of my having written this blog post. The vast majority of my readers are small business owners who initially assume otherwise. So the concerns are not exaggerated since the intent was to help them understand that they should not expect 100% validity to numbers.

As far as “Google going down”, I did mis-state in my article. I was referring to the Google Analytics system going down. Note however that the article was written in December of 2007. If you do the research, you’ll find that in 2007 there were a few back to back outages that lasted more than 24 hours.

In that time-frame, I personally saw GA reports that showed zero activity on my company site which directly correlated to the outages. Like every day for an entire month, an average of 150 – 200 visits, then BAM – one day with 10 visits and the next with 40. Then the next, back up to 200…

So no matter how high and mighty anyone might place Google on the “impossible that they would go down” pedestal, my experience in 2007 was otherwise. And not to be antagonistic about such a notion, I’ve been in the business for more than 14 years.

Over the years, I’ve seen sites as big as eBay, AOL and others brought down for extended periods of time. Because that too, is the nature of the web. Heck, more than once, entire regions of the web have come to a grinding halt. Redundancy mitigates this for the most part, yet to claim that any single solution provider is invulnerable is really what’s exaggerated.

At least that’s my opinion anyhow…

By: Actual Metrics Wed, 15 Apr 2009 22:29:35 +0000 The concept that Google Analytics reports trends instead of 100% accurate numbers is important. Equally important is the fact that *all* major web analytics tools report trends. It’s important not to confuse them with hit counters.

It’s worth clarifying a few points and correcting some incorrect assertions in this post, though:
– Google Analytics requests a file called __utm.gif from Google’s servers. Appended to this file is a query string with all the relevant information about the visitor, information in their tracking cookies, the page they are on, where they came from, etc. Google Analytics only processes these gif requests in their log files. It will process for any gif requests with status codes of 2xx, 302 and 304. (This is how Urchin processes, and Google Analytics is the hosted version of Urchin.)
– The time of a visit is based on the timestamp in the log file. It has nothing to do with where the visitor is located in relation to the server. It will report a visit based on the time zone that you specify in your Google Analytics profile.
– If a visitor has first-party cookies or JavaScript disabled, they won’t be tracked.
– All major web analytics tools *try* to track every single visitor (unless you specify not to), but because of the fluid nature of the Web, they end up with samples instead. These samples tend to be very high (say, 90%-95%). But the visit counts in Google Analytics are not artificially inflated based on an assumed sampling rate.
– As to the point about JavaScript conflicts, I have never seen this happen. It could conceivably happen. But this is the risk with any analytics tool that uses any method other than IP-tracking to count unique visitors. IP-tracking analysis is so blatantly flawed that it’s not worth going into. That’s why all the major tools by default use some type of tagging.
– Finally, the concern that Google’s servers going down will artificially deflate visit counts is absurd. The chances of Google’s servers going down (all of their redundant servers located around the world for millions of GA accounts), is next to zero. At any rate, the chances are much greater that a website owner’s own server will go down. In which case, it goes without saying that there will be no traffic recorded for that period. Google Analytics itself can go down periodically, but there won’t be any data loss unless the servers with the log files go down. I’ve never heard of that happening.

Good post, but I think the concerns are exaggerated.

By: Ways Google Analytics Can Be Misleading « Lizz Fransen’s Online Marketing Blog Wed, 24 Sep 2008 20:26:32 +0000 […] Google Analytics is the way the information is sent to the server, as outlined in the blog entry “Google Analytics – Flawed and Misleading?”. One of the reasons for this inaccuracy is due to the use of javascript. If multiple scripts are […]

By: Daan Thu, 04 Sep 2008 09:48:58 +0000 Thanks for that, we’ve found inconsistencies in our statistics too; you’re article was very insightful and helped us better our service. Thanks!

By: Caleb Fri, 25 Jul 2008 23:28:58 +0000 Thanks Alan! I found this article extremely helpful and insightful.