Google Analytics and the Statistics panel collect data in different ways, and give different results.



How Google Analytics collects data

Google Analytics tracks visitors using a small JavaScript file that a visitor’ browser requests each time they view a page. If the visitor’s browser does not request the JavaScript file, they are not tracked by Google Analytics. Reasons for not requesting the JavaScript file include:

  • The visitor has disabled JavaScript in their browser (at one time many Internet Explorer users would do this in order to avoid security holes)
  • The visitor has specifically blocked the Google Analytics JavaScript — some security software blocks JavaScript files which offer any kind of visitor tracking


In order to determine the number of distinct visits, Google Analytics uses a cookie — a small text file stored by the visitor’s browser, which is sent to the site with every request. If the visitor’s browser blocks the cookie, their visits cannot be tracked. Reasons for blocking the cookie include:

  • The visitor has disabled cookies in their browser (at one time many users would do this due to misunderstandings about what cookies are)
  • The visitor has specifically blocked the Google Analytics cookie — some security software blocks cookies which offer any kind of visitor tracking


How the website editor collects data

The website editor counts all page views. It can determine these with complete accuracy as it is responsible for generating the pages being viewed.


From the page views it determines the number of distinct visits using the referrer header — a piece of information sent by a browser when it requests a page. If the visitor followed a link, the referrer header contains the address of the page containing the link. In other situations (for example, if the visitor has clicked on one of their bookmarks) the referrer header is blank.


If the referrer header is blank or contains the address of a page on another site, the editing system counts the page view as the start of a new visit. If the referrer header contains the address of a page on your site, the editing system counts the page view as the continuation of an existing visit.