How Accurate Are Your Google Analytics?
A couple of weeks we asked the question about Google Analytics: Is The Party Over When Everyone Opts-Out? Google announced the ability coming for users to “block” Google Analytics. Those using Google Analytics already have plenty to be concerned about. As Mozilla Firefox takes more share from Internet Explorer and more users install Adblock, No Script and other plugins, the quality of web stats has declined. You can deny it all you want but as more users choose to remain invisible, your Analytics numbers will become less accurate.
Its not hard to understand in a time where privacy is a great commodity, why people are choosing to hide themselves. At the same time, though, Analytics are essential to any serious webmaster who wants to cater to their audience. For those that don’t know, Analytics is more then hits. Analytics tell a story. They can play a big part in how a website operates. The information lets a webmaster know what topics/products are popular. It lets a webmaster know which pages work and which ones fail. And in some cases the ad rates a website can command is dependent on the amount of traffic it receives. So where does this leave the webmaster facing an accuracy issue?
There is a new tool that answers the challenge which I created called YMMV Real Web Stats. Its an open source PHP script using flatfiles, that gives you a new insight into your Google Analytics. Below is an image from a small test we ran (click for larger image):
In the example run on a sample page for during the week, we got 71 pageviews according to Google Analytics. According to YMMV Real Webstats, we really got 77 pageviews, with 6 pageviews blocked by Google Analytics. Also we learn 9 users blocked ads, and 4 had No Script. According to the tool, our Google Analytics is 91.31% accurate. While this tool is not super detailed it gives you some interesting information nonetheless. The reason I created it was to quickly give you an idea of what plugins are used by your visitors and potentially how much info your webstats could be missing. I hope to in the future to develop the tool to take account of unique visitors, rather then page views and include an easier way to drill down to the page level. In the meantime, YMMV does give you access to the raw data so you can use the data to make some deeper assumptions on your own.
Now for an experiment of interest: We’d love to see some other people download YMMV Real Webstats and share their data. Once you have a chance to deploy it, come back and post your stats, your url and the audience you’re after. It will be interesting to know how accurate everyone’s Google Analytics actually is and if certain verticals have a major Analytics crisis.
YMMV Real Webstats has been discontinued.
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