Discrepancies in Google Analytics - Clicks vs Visits
We all use Google Analytics! Its a great free tool that you can use to monitor your website! The are lots of figures, and they can sometimes be confusing. Are discrepancies between Clicks and Visits something that concerns you? If so, read on!
There are a few things you need to know before we dive in:
The first thing is to know the difference between clicks and visits. A “Click” is a click on your ad. A “Visit” is recorded when the Google Analytics Tracking Code is fired on the landing page of your website.
There is a difference in the way the two platforms record: AdWords records the action on the day of the click, Analytics records on the day of the visit.
And finally - it is normal to see a 10% discrepancy between Clicks and Visits on any given date range.
So why would you have different figures?
Let’s first look at the reasons why you might have more visits:
A campaign tracking cookie will remain for six months after a visitor clicks on your AdWords ad. If the visitor returns to your website within those six months, Google Analytics will still be able to credit the visit to the original campaign. This would mean no click is recorded, but a visit is!
Another reason why you might see more visits than clicks, is to do with the “gclid” parameter. Analytics uses the 'gclid' parameter in your Destination URLs in order to identify visits from AdWords ads. The gclid parameter shows up in your landing page URL when a user arrives at your site from your ad. For example, if your site is www.example.com, when a user clicks on your ad it will appear in the address bar as:
If visitors bookmark your website along with the gclid parameter, Analytics will records visits from this bookmark as visits from your AdWords ads. However, AdWords advertisers won't be charged for these visits since it's not an actual click on the ad.
Why would you see more clicks than visits?
The first thing you need to ensure, is there is up to date and correct tracking code on all of your landing pages. If you are sending people to a page that has no code - how will it record a visit to the page?
You should also check that the code is firing properly. This is a nice trick to see is the code firing correctly. Click on your ad from the AdWords interface which will bring you to your landing page. Open up your browsers developer tools and select "Networks" (in Chrome: Select the Spanner Button -> Tools -> Developer Tools). Then refresh your page. Once the page has fully loaded, use the search function to find the "_utm.gif" and the "ga.js" request. If they are both present, you can assume the code is firing correctly.
The next thing you need to ensure is you are correctly tagging your links. Usually this is something that is done for you by ensuring you have auto-tagging turned on in your account (Find this in “My Account” -> “Preferences”). Some people don’t like to use auto-tagging for whatever reason, so in this case you need to manually tag your links. We have a tool to help you do this - our URL Builder. One thing to note is, not to use both auto and manual tagging at the same time.
And finally, if your ad is sending people through a re-direct or to a 404 error page, this will not record a visit in the Analytics interface.
So don’t worry if you are seeing discrepancies- there is always a logical explanation for them! One thing I would recommend - is to ensure that you have everything set up from the start, that way you will have an Analytics Account full of data to better understand your customers and how they behave on your website!
Happy Analytic-ing everyone - are discrepancies ever something that you come across?
(Please remember, as this is an open forum please don't post your CIDs or any other account specific information. The AdWords Support team is more then happy to assist you if you contact us directly.)