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What are Google Analytics Data Discrepancies? Earlier, we talked about the difference between Google Analytics (GA) and Google Search Console. However, you might have noticed that the click count in Google Search Console does not match the session count in Google Analytics.
In fact, some Google Analytics data discrepancies have been addressed on Google Analytics Help on Data discrepancies between Search Console and Analytics.
According to Wikipedia, “after the Google Search Console rebrand, information has been produced demonstrating that Google Search Console creates data points that do not reconcile with Google Analytics or ranking data, particularly within the local search market.”
Google Search Console reports the Canonical URL for a landing page, even when the click was to a non-Canonical landing page.
According to Google Analytics Help, if www.example.com/amp has a canonical URL of www.example.com, all the clicks to the canonical URLs will be attributed to www.example.com instead of www.example.com/amp.
|Canonical URL||Aggregated Impressions||Aggregated Clicks|
On the other hand, Google Analytics uses the actual landing page URLs of the landing pages. If www.example.com/amp has a canonical URL of www.example.com, all the clicks to the canonical URLs will be attributed separately and can be viewed using a filter to see what pages the clicks came from.
When Analytics reports include the data from Search Console that is joined on the Landing Page dimension, those reports include the discrete behavioral data for the individual landing pages and the aggregated data for the canonical URL. All data in Analytics Search Console Reports is filtered on Landing Pages that are also Canonical URLs. For example:
If Google Analytics filters are set, some traffic that Search Console tracks may be filtered out.
Besides, users can opt out of data collection by implementing a Google Analytics opt-out browser add-on.
The data for the pages that have no Google Analytics tracking code appears in Search Console whereas that does not appear in Google Analytics.
Besides, websites that load slowly or where the tracking code is at the bottom of the source code usually have this problem.
Google Search Console timestamps data according to Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) whereas Google Analytics timestamps data in each view according to the time zone identified in the view settings. For this reason, if a different time zone is set in Google Analytics, the data will not match.
According to Google Analytics Help on How a web session is defined in Analytics, a user can open many sessions which can occur at different times, days, weeks or months. Google Analytics starts a new session as soon as one session ends by one of the following ways.
As a result, a user can potentially be measured multiple sessions for the same visit in Google Analytics.
Google Analytics shows all pages from all the hostnames (including domains, subdomains, third-party tools like Youtube, Mailchimp, etc. connected to your Google Analytics, translate services like Google translate, cache services, speed services, archive services, IP addresses, etc.) with the Google Analytics tracking code. On the other hand, Google Search Console shows data for all URLs under the domain name, including all protocols, subdomains, and paths using domain properties.
This can slightly skew results when you have multiple hostnames.
Many SEO marketers don’t rely much on data from Google Search Console because they rather believe in Google Analytics. However, they are just measured differently. Data from Google Search Console measures what is happening on Google while Google Analytics measures what is happening on your website.
Nevertheless, you may increase the data precision in Google Search Console by creating more profiles such as hundreds or even thousands of subdirectories. However, this can be very time-consuming.
In conclusion, both Google Analytics and Google Search Console provide valuable data for SEO marketers. However, we can no longer correlate a visit directly with a session. Though the data from Google Search Console does not match up with that from Google Analytics, that does not mean it is not accurate. As a result, it is a good practice to test both internal and external validity of the data to ensure that you can grasp the whole picture.
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