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Huge visitors difference between Posterous stats and Google Analytics

The more analytics I see, the more puzzled I am by the disparity among them. In this particular case, the huge difference between Posterous stats and Google Analytics after just one month of publishing.

According to Posterous, this blog has already received 1722 visits. But according to Google Analytics, it has received 294 with 499 page views, of which 222 are unique visitors. I guess that what Posterous counts are pageviews, but still the difference is way too big among them.

Who should I trust?

Blog_ramon_suarez_google_analyVisitors_blog_ramon_suarez_pos

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18 thoughts on “Huge visitors difference between Posterous stats and Google Analytics

  1. Anonymous says:

    Neither do I. What do you think they represent? Looking at the numbers I guess that every time the homepage loads it ads one to all the posts shown within that page.Still, I would like to know what they represent exactly.

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  2. blueclock says:

    Usually discrepancies of this size occur when one system is analysing the web server log files and the other system is using Javascript tracking. Log files record everything that visits a site including bots and crawlers whereas JavaScript based systems tend to just record the human visits performed using a browser.But, in this instance it looks like Posterous are also using JavaScript as well. There’s an iFrame near the end of the code that loads this URL http://posterous.com/analytics_tracker If you look at the source code of the file you’ll see it loads JS from Quantcast.I’ve always found that Google Analytics under reports compared to others.For example, look at bit.ly stats for a particular post and then look at your Google Analytics stats for that post and I’d bet that the bit.ly stats are higher.It’s likely that for some page views, GA simply doesn’t have time to load and therefore Analytics does not record the visit. And I guess that Google would argue that if a visit is so short then it doesn’t really count. I’ve started using the new asynchronous code snippet which is supposed to load quicker. Info herehttp://www.google.com/support/googleanalytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=161379It’s rather telling that on their site Google say that one advantage of the new code snippet is "Collecting more visitor data from short visits to your content- or script-heavy pages"That sentence could be read as an admission that GA simply doesn’t load quick enough to record all visits.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Thanks a lot Gil. That’s the kind of insightful advice I was looking for. I have found the same discrepancy and under reporting of Google analytics even when comparing the same site with Urchin (which is also a Google product and the base from which Google Analytics was built.) Like any other statistics, the evolution of site analytics is what matters, more than the absolute numbers.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Here’s the answer from the posterous team in the blog linked by Benjamin (thanks!): "First of all, when people read your posts through the Posterous reader that counts as a view for that post on Posterous. But that would not hit google analytics. Same for RSS feeds.If people hit your site and have javascript disabled, that would still count as a view on Posterous, but would be ignored by Google analyticsIf I go to the main page for your site That will count as a post view for *each* of the posts on that page. Google would count that as one view for that page, and no views for each post.So the fundamental difference here is google analytics is counting when that particular page is loaded with javascript, while we count anytime that *post* is loaded, on any page anywhere"

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Oh, by the way, I know I should not trust the absolute numbers of any of them and I follow Bruce Lee’s advice: bend with the trend 😉

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  6. Anonymous says:

    Thank you all – the statistics piece – I definitely ran into shortly after making posterous my platform of choice for blogging. Good to know there was an answer for this question!

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  7. Anonymous says:

    You can also try <a href=’http://www.estimix.com’>www.estimix.com</a> ??? a free tool that provides a nice summary of the website performance.The estimation provided by estimix is the result of a complex analysis based on factors like: the age of the website, the demographic structure of the traffic, the countries where the website is popular and sources of the traffic.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for this post and for the comments – it’s very interesting. My own opinion is that I wouldn’t view one web analytics tool as more *accurate* than another — they are all severely flawed. Rather than getting absolute data from any system, what you really want to see are trends and correlations. The numbers will always be flawed. For example, one huge flaw in Google Analytics is that they record time on a page by subtracting the time spent on the first page from the time spent on the 2nd page. But if a visitor only visits one page, you can’t do the subtraction, so it looks like they just stayed for a split second, even if they were there for 30 minutes.So I wouldn’t get too hung up on absolute accuracy, because what you are really interested in is a tool that can isolate variables, show trends, and help you see things from multiple angles.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    From the Posterous.com website. I’m still a little unsure of what they mean. I think the numbers still don’t add up.How are site and post views calculated?There are many things that trigger a "view" for a post and a site: viewing the blog triggers a view for all posts visible on that page. In addition, a view will be triggered by the blog post page itself, the RSS feed, and http://posterous.com/explore. View counts are updated every five minutes. Google Analytics is better at measuring visitors and filtering out impressions triggered by search engine bots, crawlers, or indexers. You can set up Google Analytics for your Posterous by following these instructions.

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