Stats you can rely on
A comparison between Google Analytics and Webalizer
Webalizer is the statistics analysis software provided by Hughes Media for looking at visitor traffic to your website.
Both Webalizer and Google Analytics provide an analysis of the visitor numbers and visitor patterns in a website. Each tool gives different figures which can appear confusing.
Understanding how each of these tools collects the necessary data to produce statistics can help to understand this difference. In turn this will establish how best to interpret the data to use for your marketing or making improvements to your website.
How Data is Collected
The main difference between Google Analytics and Webalizer is the way each collects the data.
- Webalizer interprets the site’s server logs which are held on the webserver.
This means that the point of data collection is very different:
Google Analytics data is collected from the number of available browsers that each individual uses.
Webalizer collects data from one single location – the webserver.
So what does this mean?
Google Analytics relies on Cookies to find out about a visitors behavior. For example, a cookie is used to determine if a visitor is new or returning as well as deciding the length of time spent on each page. If a user does not allow these cookies to run, Google Analytics cannot record the data.
Google Analytics only records human visits and not those from crawlers or search engines. This means the server logs are the only place to go to see if Google has visited your website.
Google Analytics starts to count a new visit after a 30 minute delay between visits. For example if you visit a site and then return 31 minutes later you will be classed as 2 visits.
Webalizer uses IP addresses to record visits. This is an advantage for single users from home but an office with many team members can have just one IP address so each visitor will only be counted once.
For example an office of 6 people who all visit the same site will only be counted as one visitor. This in turn is counteracted by the big broadband providers who provide ‘dynamic’ IP addresses for each visit.
For example if one person logs on to a site, closes down and logs back on they may be given a new IP address and are therefore counted as a new visitor.
Webalizer doesn’t try to differentiate between crawlers, search engine and human visitors; they are all counted together. This can result in Webalizer showing higher visitor numbers than Google Analytics.
Like Google Analytics, Webalizer sets a visit at 30 minute durations.
There are advantages of using either Google Analytics or Webalizer to find out how your users are using your websites. Using a combination of both will give a better understanding of how your website is being used by both visitors and search engines.
Google Analytics can be more advantageous for marketing purposes as it focuses on ‘human’ visitors to a website, how they use the site and for how long. Webalizer can give a better understanding of the actual visitor numbers by both ‘humans’ and crawlers and to show where the bandwidth is being used.
So which should you use?
It is important to note that there is never one correct method or analyzing statistical data. The two tools described here offer different views of the data. Neither is necessarily incorrect, but neither tool should be relied upon for 100% foolproof factual data.
We would recommend using both of these tools to show patterns in traffic to your website.
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