How much traffic does your blog ‘actually’ get?

Most of us are ardent followers of client side site traffic analytics tools like Google Analytics or site meter while some people still use old style server side analytical options such as Webalizer or awstats. No matter which tool you use the problem of qualitatively analyzing the real traffic to your site or blog still remains an unsolved puzzle – even Google Analytics does not work well!

Problems with server side traffic tracking

There are several concerns with respect to the server side tracking of your site’s traffic. First of all, these tools record all types of ‘visits’ and ‘hits’ to the site. This might include bot visits, pings etc. Basically all that they do is to record the raw data which will then be aggregated as a report.

Secondly, the server side tracking basically eats up some of your server resources. This includes the CPU time and mega bytes of disk space used to store the tracking data. This can cause a marginal performance issue in terms of site response as well.

Thirdly and most importantly, deducing some valuable information out of those megabytes is not an easy job. Awstats might show your site’s daily page hits as 2000 hits where as in the eyes of Google Analytics it may be just 200!

Client side tracking (Google Analytics, Sitemeter etc)

The client side javascript based traffic tracking solves a couple of the above mentioned problems for you. Basically, as the script runs on the client (browser), there’s no load on your server and hence no performance issue. Since, the tracking code is installed at the footer (the right approach), there are no rendering delay as well. Further, they track the actual content access and the traffic analytics is more realistic. On the flip side, the client side tracking tools miss out on tracking a very small % of people who have not enabled Javascript on their browsers.

Client side tools still not perfect

We still have bigger issues with the client side tracking tools. Most of us do use Google Analytics and mostly trusts Google for whatever it shows. And I do believe what I see when it comes to the traffic analysis of direct visits and referring sites. However, I have a problem with what I see on the search engine visits.

If you carefully analyze your Google analytics search visits, you will see that a big percentage of the visits have an average time of 0 seconds on your site. This can be attributed to a quick exit before the whole tracking code executes. [Edited: But my strong doubt is that Google actually also includes even those instances where your page appears on SERPs as a result of a keyword search. In other words, it may be recording a visit even without a click through!]

To verify the above theory, please take a look at your Google Webmater Tools => Top search queries page. Check the search data for the past seven days for all search types and see the difference between ‘impressions’ and “clickthroughs’! Is your Google Analytics search visit numbers inflated?

What would be your quality traffic?

According to me your real quality page views are those page views with an ‘average time on site’ value more than zero seconds. And if you run through your Google Analytics content tab, you will see that it is hardly 50% or 60% of your actual page views!

Any takers?

Tail Piece: I would assume that Sitemeter probably provides a more realistic data. I could not crosscheck it as I have disabled it since the theme change. Please let me know your thoughts on this topic.


  1. Google counting a pageview without a clickthrough is NOT possible. Analytics records pageview only when the javascript gets executed.

    If the above were true there will be no change in traffic when you are number 1 or number 10 in SERP. Which is definitely not the case.

    • Hi,
      I withdraw that statement but have maintained it in the striked out format so as to let other readers know the reason behind your comment. My apologies for the wrong information provided. In fact, I experimented with several keyword searches that gave first SERP positioning and deduced the theory but made a mistake in the data collection.


      • @Ajith,
        bestlinkbuildingblog is my blog only..targetted at link building topics…will be trying flipping it in 3-4 months..

        Since you were the one to introduce me to the idea, let me know if you have some posts/blog about the topic.

        binaryday´s last blog post… My roadmap to blogging success

  2. Phew.. never knew about this! Need to check this out!

    So your actually saying that the traffic stats are not accurate by services like Google analytics or sitemeter


    Curious Little Person´s last blog post… The Importance of a Blogroll & How to Get Included in One!

  3. moserw :

    I believe most rate the success of their blog by how much money they make on AdSense and other such programs. Even if they had thousands of visitors daily and yet no one clicked on the ads and no money was made then it would be termed a failure right? On the other hand even with a few hundred visitors a day with a high CTR it would be termed successful right? So my question is do people really check about traffic at all?

    moserw´s last blog post… The Still Small Voice…

  4. I am actually doubtful right now. If I can’t trust Google [Analytics], then what other tracking services can I trust? Sitemeter is a good tool for me too. I am not sure if I’m with you upon their inaccuracy, but any probloggers trust sitemeter (and maybe google analytics).

    I have to research more on this. You sparked something in my mind 😀

    Btw, my first visit and comment in your blog. It’s great! Just added it in my RSS Reader 😀

    Liane YoungBlogger´s last blog post… What I Recently Learned About Internet Marketing | The Ten Powerful Opt-in Email List Building Tips

  5. i also think that Google Analytics is not the true picture of our traffic….it shows us the distorted data….But at the moment, it is the only service that I am using

    IndianCashMaker´s last blog post… Should You Blog with Blogspot?

  6. Right or wrong am using Google analytic and wordpress stats..I think WP stats plugins gives the correct stats..

    Is that also wrong :(

  7. Google Analytics is best ever I tested all plugins in wordpress

    teratips´s last blog post… How to Make Sticky Posts for Site Promotion

  8. I’ve no idea what analytics that we still can use if Google Analytics doesn’t accurate in counting traffic. Anyway, I’m using Google Analytics, an Analytics in an advertisement company (My Local), and Sitemeter as well. I always compare Google Analytics with the advertisement company one, the differences is very little, so I think it should be accurate.

    Anyway, do you have any suggestion Ajith?


    Make Money Online´s last blog post… Make Money Online With Affiliate Lead Marketing MLM Network

  9. @SK, congrats on the new blog. Well, I do not have any tips for flipping but I have read about it in many places. Good luck!

    @Sandeep, I guess, no mechanism is foolproof. But the question also is whether you want to be too accurate :)

    @Rajiv, Actually most bloggers are crazy about their traffic figures because it can boost their market value, ego, monetization power, what not?

    @Liane, welcome to DollarShower! From time to time I shall try to write something innovative and unique 😛 Let me know how your experiments with traffic analysis tools go.

    @Tushar, try sitemeter as well. It’s good…

    @Lax, I never used WordPress stats… Probably that may be more accurate on page/post access :)

    @teratips, that’s what I thought also.

    @Kurt, thanks for the friendship chain… I will try to post about it during the weekend.

    @Lee, one of the wrong statements that I made with respect to GA has been withdrawn. However, I still see a huge number of page accesses with 0 sec ‘time on site’. I guess, it cannot be completely true. Also, the mismatch between clickthroughs and actual visits shown by the analytics is huge.

    I do not have any alternate recco as such :) but I guess, we all can live with some errors in traffic reporting?

    • I’ve not checked it properly, I think the traffic that stats 0 sec on our blog is search engine bot, but that’s not a good thing if Google Analytics counts that as a traffic, that’s mean if the result shows we have 100 uv today, perhaps there is only 80 visitors are real human.

      Anyway, don’t be too bothering on the analytics? As long as we have traffic and honor comments on the blog, it’s enough for all of us, isn’t it? 😉


      Make Money Online´s last blog post… Make Money Online With Affiliate Lead Marketing MLM Network

  10. I use WP stats and statcounter and they have been quite accurate. However I see that Wp stats and data are more similar compared to GA.

    Kurt Avish´s last blog post… Slipknot Masks Meaning – Slipknot Unleashed!

    • @Kurt, That’s exactly the problem for me as well. I used to see a big difference between sitemeter and GA. And GA and Webmaster tools data somehow don’t match…

  11. I am using google analytics to find traffic. Is there any best way to find traffic? if so please intimate me.

  12. Nihar :

    Hi ajith,

    I am here after lot of days…

    Nice post. I feel no tool is perfect. but, i don’t think there is anytool which can give how much time a visitor has stayed if he/she visits only one page and leaves the site.

    what do you think?

  13. For me the most reliable web traffic analyzing tool is Google analytics. I always check the impressions in google adsense and make sure that adsense impression (it is always less than analytics count because ads may not be loaded in every page views)

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