Clicky vs Analytics: Why Google Analytics Reporting is Flawed

Why you Should Avoid Relying on Google Analytics for your Blog

Most SEOs agree that on-page factors such as user experience, page views and dwell time are becoming increasingly important in how search engines determine the quality of content in 2013.

As such, being able to accurately measure your user experience, engagement and stats is really important.  While a number of inexperienced webmasters tend to rely on Google Analytics for this sort of thing, I want to explain why you should be looking at alternatives such as Clicky.com.

1. Google Doesn’t Accurately Measure Bounce Rates %

You might be shocked to hear this, but the bounce rate % information supplied in Google Analytics is inherently flawed.  Although the precise definition of “bounce rate” is a visitor who only visits one page of your website and leaves, experienced marketers agree that this definition is wrong, and that it should also take into account dwell time.

For example, imagine a scenario where a user visits your website and spends 5 minutes reading a how-to guide or blog.  He finds what he’s looking for, spends a reasonable amount of time reading the article and then leaves. This is what the majority of visitors will do in the blogging and content industry.  In this info-graphic for example, it shows that most content websites will have a bounce rate of 40-60%.  With such a high bounce rate, the main way to determine the quality of your content isn’t the bounce rate but rather the “dwell time”.  This is the amount of time a visitor spends on a website.

The problem is that visitor reporting tools such as Google Analytics will still class this as a “bounce”, even though the visitor stayed for an extended period of time on the website.

In order to fix this flaw, superior analytics tools such as Clicky.com use a more holistic approach to defining a bounce rate, which takes into account dwell time.

According to Clicky.com:  “A visitor will only count as a bounce on Clicky if they only view a single page and they were on your web site for less than 30 seconds. We figure, if someone is there for at least 30 seconds, they were at least mildly engaged and should not count as a bounce.”

In my opinion, Clicky’s definition of a bounce rate is spot on.  If a bounce rate is supposed to be used to accurately measure the “interaction”, “quality” and “stickiness” of a website then dwell time should definitely be taken into account.

This also explains why you’ll see completely different bounce rate % on Google Analytics and other reporting tools such as Clicky.com. You can see the differences in the images below:

Clicky Traffic Stats:

Screen Shot 2013-05-22 at 13.42.30

Google Analytics Traffic Stats:

Screen Shot 2013-05-22 at 13.42.13

(Note: If you really want to, you can add a unique asynchronous tracking code to your Google Analytics to fix the issue as the last_gaq.push declaration here: setTimeout('_gaq.push([\'_trackEvent\', \'NoBounce\', \'Over 10 seconds\'])',10000);

2. Google Analytics Doesn’t Accurately Measure “Time on Site”

The second thing that’s wrong with Google Analytics is that it doesn’t measure time on site properly.  Unfortunately, Google only measures time on site by the next page view.  This means if a user only views one page, regardless of how long he spends on it, it will be class as a 0 second visit in Analytics.  In addition, if a user visits Page A and then Page B and then leaves, the entire duration of his time spent on Page B will be written off as 0 seconds too.  This is why Analytics users see so many visitors reported under the “0-10s” time duration.

According to Google: “When a page is the last page in a session, there is no way to calculate the time spent on it because there is no subsequent pageview. For this reason, when Page A is the last page in the visitor’s session, its time calculation is not counted for that view. In addition, when that page is the only page viewed in the session, no time on page is calculated.”

Clicky.com is different because it uses regular sends pingbacks to check if a user is still on your website, therefore accurately reporting the time on site properly.

Conclusion – Which is Better – Clicky or Analytics?

I’m personally a very loyal user of Clicky.com.  I find it much simpler to use and set up then Google Analytics and it provides more accurate reporting and breakdown of your traffic.  It also displays useful traffic graphics and summaries on the homepage if you have more than one site.

That said, I still think it’s useful to use at least two sets of reporting tools.  Analytics does offer some features that Clicky doesn’t, such as the ability to measure engagement across different pages and create traffic funnel goals.

If you’re interested in using Clicky.com, you can sign up now for free for 1 website, otherwise it’s $9.99/month for up to 10 websites.

Adam Grunwerg

Mr grunwerg has written 22 post in this blog.

Adam Grunwerg is the founder of Searchable.co.uk and has numerous years of experience in SEO, inbound marketing developing brands online. He has also previously written for the Guardian, SearchEngineJournal and AffiliateFYI.com.

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