Blog » Google Analytics Misses Things

Google Analytics Misses Things

I have suspected that Google Analytics hides things it doesn't understand for a few weeks now. Whilst I am not certain about that, it definitely misses some things, and gets others wrong. Let us examine what it misses first. Some old browsers register only the first page visited, and the rest are not counted. This results in Google Analytics marking their visits as "bounces," when these visitors did, in fact, view multiple pages. For example, Mozilla 4 and lower appear to cause this. Other browsers do not even register at all, resulting in uncounted visits. These details were obtained by comparing the results from Google Analytics, to this site's server logs. 

To be fair, Google Analytics has a tougher job than server log analysers because it does not have direct access to the server logs. Instead, Google Analytics works by embedding invisible code into each page. This code causes web-browsers to contact the Google Analytics server. However, this requires the web-browser's cooperation. If a browser does not understand the embedded tags, Google Analytics will not know about the visit. Likewise, if a browser does not respond as Google Analytics expects, it will reccord incorrect data.

Another item that I have noticed is that Google Analytics only recognizes main-stream browsers and Operating Systems (OS). So, when I visit using OWB on Amiga OS 4, it is registered as Safari, with the OS marked as "not set." There are likely to be more items such as this. 

Whilst these issues would be largely irrelevant on most sites, this site contains a lot of material geared toward Amiga OS users. Hence, many are likely to visit using Ibrowse, AWeb and other older browsers that are invisible to Google Analytics, because they do not understand the Google Analytics code (and also display this site incorrectly). Others will use OWB, but will be shown incorrectly in Google Analytics, because Google Analytics appears to not know what an Amiga is. Thus, the missing/incorrect data could be significant enough to create a false picture of this site's visitors. 

Blog » Google Analytics Misses Things

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Blog » Google Analytics Misses Things