How come Google Analytics shows different numbers from my Zeald reports?

How come Google Analytics shows different numbers from my Zeald reports tab?

According to Google:

"Different analytics products may use a variety of methods to collect data about your traffic, so it's normal to see discrepancies between reports created using different products.  But the best way to think of metrics across different analytics programs is to think in terms of trends, as opposed to numbers themselves."

NOTE:  Originally, this was posted in the Analytics help site, but the post was taken down  

Zeald reporting happens server-side and reports hit on our server.  Google Analytics, on the other hand, run inside the client's browser.  These differences mean that Zest has access to some data that Google doesn't and vice versa.

  • Analytics and ZEST potentially use different methods to determine a 'visit' and a 'visitor'. A visit is defined as a set of page loads on the site that happen within 30 minutes from a single user.  We determine a 'visitor' by their cookies, which essentially identifies a specific device and browser.  In google a 'user' is also able to be tracked using attributes like their google account across multiple devices (Google provide a rather vague description of how they track users here but in the end it uses a 'secret algorithm', so we can't be sure).  

  • Analytics can in some cases more reliably detect 'bots' than the zeald reports (which also do an element of bot detection, but using different techniques that can be thrown off by certain nasty spam-bots).  In that case you'll notice a surge of traffic that isn't in GA

  • Analytics can also 'miss' visits because the page closes too quickly for it to track them.

  • In things like 'goals', analytics will report 'unique page views" rather than "page views" (which ZEST analytics reports).  ZEST also counts all loads of the page that show that page content, rather than analytics which only count the specific url, which may mean ZEST counts higher due to showing the page 'twice' for things like a failed form submission.

If you don't have an SSL certificate, your visitor tracking is wildly inaccurate in google analytics

If your website does not have its own SSL certificate, then Google Analytics' techniques for tracking visitors break down as the user transfers between and  Zeald applies so-called "cross domain tracking" using the method recommended by Google.  But this doesn't work well and Google will "double count" visits for at least some of your visitors, if you use this scenario.  Since Google also loses track of some of the users as they move between domains, this can cause problems on Google's ability to track other more complex metrics, such as time on site, entry and exit pages, and so on.  

SOLUTION:  It is therefore recommended that you purchase your own SSL certificate for your site.  Getting your own SSL certificate guarantees that these 'cross-domain' related issues won't happen.  See Get Your Own SSL Certificate for more benefits of purchasing your own SSL certificate. If you would like to purchase your SSL certificate from the Zeald Portal, click here for more information.

Ecommerce Tracking

Ecommerce tracking in Analytics only reports ecommerce orders that happen on the front-end of your website.  As such, differences may arise due to the following: 
  • Cancelled orders in the website backend (which are omitted from the Zeald reports, but not on Analytics)
  • Deleted orders int he website backend (which are omitted from the Zeald reports, but not from Analytics)
  • Orders entered via the website backend
  • Edited orders (i.e. added or removed products, or variations in the price).  Changes here may not be seen in Analytics.
  • Analytics order tracking support requires custom code on the receipt page of the site. If your website has a customissed order process, this may break this, or simply not include this, unless you've paid, as part of that customisation, to build a corresponding piece of tracking code into it.  Customisations that significantly modify the values of products and the order.  (e.g. any kind of 'coupon or 'voucher' or discount customisations) may not also apply correct values with the standard analytics code, and need further customisation of the analytics code to provide correct values.  
  • If the website is multicurrency - analytics will convert currencies at a different rate and time, causing small differences in the price.  
  • Conversion rate data will always differ due to the discrepancies in the visitors mentioned above.  
For ecommerce tracking, the metrics reported in the Zest reports are accurate representations of what's happening in your business (i.e. how much revenue you have made).  Those in Analytics reflect how many orders were made on your website, without taking account of other factors, such as cancellations, etc.  

Goal tracking (eg Enquiries)

In Google Analytics, 'goals' are defined in terms of loading a specific page in the frontend of the website.  In ZEST many goals such as enquiries have their own database systems and can differ in a similar way to Ecommerce tracking due to manual backend changes.  Analytics goal tracking can be thrown off if you don't have your own SSL, as explained above under 'Visitors Numbers''.

For more accurate reporting

For more accurate reporting we strongly recommend the use of both systems in parallel, and that you purchase an SSL certificate. It will be more difficult to compare figures between the two systems and we suggest that you should focus on trends as opposed to specific numbers