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Written by Finn Ruijter, 27 August 2019

Number of visitors measured: server vs. Google Analytics

If your website is on one of 2manydots’ servers, there is a maximum number of measured visitors for the hosting package. But 2manydots’ hosting partner comes up with very different visitor numbers than Google Analytics. Even in Google Analytics 4, relative to Universal Analytics, this may be different. How is that possible?

How the web host calculates the number of measured visitors

That there is a difference between the numbers in your Google Analytics dashboard and those of your web host is not suspicious. On the contrary; this is normal. We at 2manydots see this with our own website statistics as well, and our other clients experience the same thing.

The difference between the figures lies in the definition used by each party and the way measured visitors are recorded. Indeed, each has a different purpose with the numbers. Google Analytics wants to chart user behavior as accurately as possible, while the hosting provider wants to pass on costs as fairly as possible. So, what is a visitor now?

  1. To the server (hosting party), what is a visitor?
    There are many ways websites are visited. For example, there are visitors who click away before the page has fully loaded-the infamous bounce-as well as those who plow through dozens of pages. There are also bots: automated visits from search engines, for example, that index your site.

    A hosting provider records each unique IP address in a 24-hour period as a unique visitor. On the one hand, that depresses visitor numbers, for example, when two computers from one company visit you on the same day. On the other hand, the server also counts lightning visits and constant check requests (ping) from up-time monitoring services. These also call up data traffic, which incurs costs for the hosting provider.

  2. For Google Analytics, what is a visitor?
    Google Analytics wants to focus on real, human visitors. Bots, to the extent possible, are identified and not counted in the statistics. Nor does Google count filtered data (visitors from countries other than the Netherlands, visitors from your company). Another thing Google Analytics does differently is that it labels visits as unique if they occur from different browsers but still have the same IP address. As an example, take a visit from Google Chrome on the laptop and 15 minutes later from Safari on the smartphone. That’s two unique visitors for Google Analytics despite coming from the same network (IP address).

Why the number of measured visitors affects price

One of the features of the chosen hosting package is the bandwidth: how much traffic can pass over the connection. Every time something or someone accesses your website, the server sends data over the connection, even if it is a bounce or a bot. All the traffic combined, the hosting provider categorizes it as billable visits: billable visitors.

“We do NOT count image visits toward traffic charges and we do NOT count visits from well-known ‘bot’ User Agents.”

It makes sense, then, that hosting providers charge a higher fee to a multinational company, which consumes a lot of bandwidth, than to the local plumber whose website attracts hardly any visitors. Therefore, the different hosting packages are divided not only by storage space, but also by numbers of measured visitors.

In summary: page loading costs money

So the difference between the figures from Google Analytics and your host is well explained. Even short and non-human visits chase costs to the hosting provider, while Google Analytics finds it “unfair” to record them. Therefore, it is common for the hosting provider to come up with higher visitor numbers than Google Analytics.

Message from Hosting Partner:
The number of visitors in Google Analytics is always going to be considerably lower. The reason being is Google Analytics tries very hard to provide information only on human visitors that matter for ad traffic and will not include any visitors that have JavaScript disabled on their browsers. A unique IP is counted as unique in an entire month, while our system looks at unique IPs on a per day basis. They also will not include Google bots or various other bots in their visitor count. While we include them, we don’t charge for bot visits, they are comped and are not part of the calculation for overages. Google Analytics is used for marketing/advertising purposes and that is why it works so hard to only count what they believe to be human visitors. Our server stats monitoring tracks all unique visitors because from a server impact standpoint, a bot or a human is still pulling data down from the server and using CPU resources in the process.