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Which Analytic Software for Visitor Tracking

11:27 pm on May 3, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I'm trying to track visitor behaviour, and currently use both AWstats on cpanel and Google Analytics. I know awstats tend to measure everything, but in terms of real visitors, which program is best to use?
12:01 am on May 4, 2016 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member andy_langton is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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It's an age-old question. Log-based trackers like AWstats are analysing every request to your site. This means a lot of automated traffic that cannot fit the definition of a "real visitor" and limitations in terms of what can be tracked. But every request to your site is tracked, which has its appeal. Google Analytics relies on browsers executing particular javascript. This will include some automated traffic, but also excludes visitors who block javascript or tracking.

Put simply, log trackers over-count, and javascript trackers under-count. Neither will tell you "real visitors". For most people, this doesn't really matter - if you stick to one, then the discrepancies balance out. Trends are more important than pinpoint accuracy in most use-cases. The overwhelming preference for Google Analytics is a combination of a serviceable-enough interface and a free price tag.

My view is that the theoretically perfect tracker combines both aspects - track with log files as well as javascript. I don't know of any 'off the shelf' software that gets this right, however.

To put it another way, what is it you want your website analytics to tell you, and how would you like this information delivered?
12:12 am on May 4, 2016 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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Everything Andy said and... if you have any database/coding experience you can roll your own by merging both and running statistical comparisons which might suggest a more accurate (but still unproven) number. Also, knowing the uptake of adblockers (about 25% world wide) you can make adjustments.

I echo Andy: what results are you seeking? Your raw logs will tell you what's happening ON YOUR SITE.