Different traffic numbers between GA4 and Universal Analytics

One of the questions we tackled this week involved a difference in traffic between GA4 and Universal (Google) Analytics. Why were there different numbers between these two accounts?

There are many reasons we might see different traffic between the new (GA4) and conventional (Universal) Google Analytics. In this video we troubleshoot several possible reasons why the traffic numbers might be different. In the end we conclude with the reminder that these are estimates of traffic and not always “real” numbers.

Transcript:

So Trisha, you had a couple questions. Which one do you want to go with first? The analytics one or the? Yeah. But you understand what was happening? And really looked at it yet. Okay, let’s blow this is a week since I’ve said 15L, but I’ll look over this. So, what is this doing? Yeah. I was looking through my client side and checking the ga4 right, make sure everything was working good. Okay. And what, what I so what I’m doing, is saying, okay, this is GA for and then this is you a universal analytics and they weren’t mad. And so basically, so like for example, I think, oh, I see what you mean. Yeah. They’re not matching. And I’m like, well, why? And it was more than one client. So are you first? The first question is, are you absolutely sure you’re measuring the same days? Yes, I did here at the bottom says last seven days because that was a question I had. So I let it doesn’t say which seven days. Last last seven will be the seven before. Okay? Okay, but I mean like, I was doing it all and said, like, sitting there screenshot, go to the next so that says, May 20th. Okay, so this is May 20th as well. Okay, so we’re comparing this same time period. Hmm. What’s this one? This is right now. Okay? And yeah. So and then it was saying like so right now then go back to the right now. It says to it says Italy and so I’m Mariana. And so what’s that? Well it’s some here. This is you and Marietta but it will not happen to be visit. Same time, I kept flip-flopping back and forth and the you a on kept only saying one. So there is, I’ve noticed in GA for there’s a delay. Okay, okay. I wouldn’t be too worried. So first of all, I wouldn’t be too worried about the de leg on real-time. Like, I’ve noticed doing real-time that sometimes little bit of delay. It’s a great way to troubleshoot, but I can’t be definitive as a second of all. Yeah. Okay. If if we’re assuming same time period, mate 20th to the 26th, May 20th to 26th. This says 94 users and that says 1779 users, so, What I would check. Just to rule out. Some things are making sure the code is on every page of the website without exception. So I did this, I’m not sure how I’ll do because it may have used Google tag manager, but I’m not sure. I’ll pick Jack. Do the new. Make sure tag manager, is on every page of that exception. Check. Okay, right, because that could be. So now, if Right now, I’m recommending WordPress websites. Use the site kit, plug-in, yes, to add tag manager to the website, and then tag me. Log in the tag manager, separate neger analytics through tag names. Yes. Now, this assumes a couple things, number one, that your WordPress website is built, right? Okay, cuz I Suspect, the site kit plug-in relies upon the header file being loaded correctly. On every page in the lazy developer might take a shortcut in might forget to put it on a page or two. So would possibly could I check that with Google tag assistant going to the pages? Yes, that would be one way to do it. You have to go to every single page. You can also in this transitions to your other question, look in the dashboard for referrals from your own website. so, if you go into website and you see that you are getting referral traffic from your Website. Something may be wrong, something may be fine, but something may be wrong. And that’s why in the dashboard, the weekly dashboard, one of the things to always look at is are you getting referral traffic from your own website? Okay so if you’re getting referral traffic from your own website it could be that someone has spent more than 30 minutes on a web page. and then clicks to another webpage because remember, from our Google analytics class, The session starts over at 30 minutes aren’t even. That means. Okay, you had such compelling content on your website that I read it in depth set there and pain. You know, pontificated about it for a while, maybe I called your phone number and then I click to another website or web page on your site. That would be a new session so that could reflect as referral traffic from your own website. However, if You’re always getting referral traffic from your home page. It might be that there’s a problem with your Google analytics code on your homepage. Okay, in that you’re not, it’s not executing it. It’s the on the page. There’s a, there’s a script conflict of some sort and that means something’s wrong. And therefore, it is not being tracked and Google analytics. This is about a 10 or so percent difference, so I’d say that’s outside the standard. Ation. I would start to look at why one is not like the other, okay? But you also have to remember that there is a delay in these reports from Google analytics. So whereas real time data Comes Is Real Time as they can make it and there’s Sometimes some weird delays these reports that we’re looking at right now should be well could be Day or so behind. So, one of the things I might do is go to like the acquisition report and put a time a week ago and compare a week ago, in one in a week ago and another because you Google analytics takes one or two days before it catches up. So you if you’re tracking yesterday’s data in Google analytics, you could be off. Yeah. Okay. So if you’re putting Weak backhand you compare the week ago with week ago and hey there’s always going to be some weirdness like if you’re off five percent okay, I can live with that. Mhm right? If you’re off. 10% Like You are here. I’m starting to suspect something weird. Might be going on, okay. And then you might be underreporting in this case. It would look like you’re Under reporting in GA for ahem so that That, you know, we’d have to investigate. How are we adding? J4 to the site, have we, if we’re doing tag manager is tag manager on every page of this idea. Now, that could be that there’s something just different about how Google ga4 reports versus universal. So, for instance, there might be better but protection and ga4 than in Universal, and so that might be what you’re saying. What is that new thing coming out GL be something like four letters and it’s something about blocking certain stuff. Yeah so I think what you’re referring to is they’re moving everybody from the analytics dot JS to the gtag analytic script, which is the g a force, If that can run Universal or ga4 and I think that’s what because they’re you were having so much problem with referral spam at this point that they’re really encouraging people to move to the new Google Analytics, code Tim for your benefit. We’ve been struggling with GA for 4 last month or two, our official recommendation at this point is don’t upgrade to GA for yet. Make sure you use the exceptions and use Google Analytics. It’s Universal, which is the old version. And if you create a new account with GA with Google analytics, it’s going to try to trick you into GA for you need to resist the temptation and stay in Universal analytics but at the G8 for but the ga Kuru. Yeah go ahead and collect the data from ga4 but don’t use it for reporting. Oh no, yeah, I will go inside now here but alas, that’s what I would do to troubleshoot this. Okay, because does I am suspicious that your code might be missing from a page or there could be some sort of conflict, okay? If if after a while we can’t and you know I would go a couple weeks back and look or a larger time period. You can pair and then see you know our Google analytics does say and I wish I knew where it says it but it says we don’t offer promises that this is really the number of people visiting your best. This is about the number of people visiting your website, right? Yeah. So they’re estimating And when you get the really large numbers, Google, you could exceed Google analytics limit, and they will really give you sample sizes. Wow. Like I’ve seen, you know, we’re estimating this based on 75% of your website traffic because Lao the travel website just gets huge traffic and they can’t really promise you. So so there’s a certain point where you just got to be like, okay it’s close enough. We’re really, you know, one of the things I promote with Google analytics is we’re not really saying 79 visitors because we don’t know if 79 is good or bad, but we do want to compare apples, to apples. And so, when we compare apples, we can say 79 versus the prior week. Okay? Now we’re comparing that 79 from organic versus 79 from Facebook, okay. These numbers only mean something in comparison to something else because what is 79 good or bad? I don’t know, right. But if we compare it. So, as long as the comparisons are equally flawed and we still have valuable data and we’re still, yeah, we’re still getting a. But like I wouldn’t argue, I wouldn’t fall on the sword of whether we got 79 to 93. Okay, right, I wouldn’t be, I would just check and rule out potential issues and hopefully there’s this Um, tips on how to rule out some. Yeah. And at the end of the day you’re like, okay I can’t find anything. Everything seems to be installed and I just go. Okay. I’ve just you know if it was twice as many than we start. Be like, okay, yeah, something yeah, but yeah. Yeah. Then I would, if it was double at then I think I had something on there twice. But yeah. Exactly.


Have a question about this process? Ask it here: