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Table of Contents
- Individual landing page URLs deflate GA data
- Filters deflate GA data
- Pages that have no Google Analytics tracking code deflate GA data
- Non-HTML pages deflate GA data
- Bouncing off a page before Google Analytics tracking code loads deflates GA data
- Different time zones may deflate or inflate GA data
- Session Timeout on Google Analytics inflate GA data
- Mismatched hostnames may slightly inflate GA data
- How Much Do the Google Analytics Data Discrepancies Matter?
- Further Reading
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.”
Individual landing page URLs deflate GA data
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:
Filters deflate GA data
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.
Pages that have no Google Analytics tracking code deflate GA data
The data for the pages that have no Google Analytics tracking code appears in Search Console whereas that does not appear in Google Analytics.
Non-HTML pages deflate GA data
Bouncing off a page before Google Analytics tracking code loads deflates GA data
Besides, websites that load slowly or where the tracking code is at the bottom of the source code usually have this problem.
Different time zones may deflate or inflate GA data
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.
Session Timeout on Google Analytics inflate GA data
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.
- Time-based expiration:
- After 30 minutes of inactivity
- At midnight
- Campaign change:
- If a user arrives via one campaign, leaves, and then comes back via a different campaign.
As a result, a user can potentially be measured multiple sessions for the same visit in Google Analytics.
Mismatched hostnames may slightly inflate GA data
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.
How Much Do the Google Analytics Data Discrepancies Matter?
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.