Home > software, websites > Statcounter vs. Google Analytics

Statcounter vs. Google Analytics

Once upon a time, tracking a website’s visitors used to be a problematic task, possibly consisting of writing custom code, or otherwise trying to figure out the logs. The information was limited, at best, and resistant to analysis.

Then there came some web companies that allowed you to put a little script on your page, after which they would track and analyse your visitors for you, possibly presenting the information via a web interface. Some would also let you display a tiny box somewhere on your page actually letting your viewers know “how many visitors have been here before”. Of these, some companies were free, and some were not so. The main difference between these paid and non-paid ones was the amount of traffic you could analyze.

Of these companies, Statcounter was possibly the best of all. A very respectable free service, and a very configurable counter, along with with very good analysis made this a choicest tool. My choice.

And then came along the great Google, with its massive power and push. Its Analytics tracking system has now become a practical benchmark. It is free – and and has no limits, so to speak of. The analysis interface is brilliant, as is the performance.

But load my site, and you will note that my page loads both the Analytics and Statcounter code, even at the expense of load performance. Why would I want to do that?

To answer the question, I must first explain the objective differences between Analytics and Statcounter. These are not exhaustive, of course.

  1. Analytics is aimed at marketers, not webmasters and techies. Its integration with AdWords is fair proof of the very different reasons and philosophies.
  2. Statcounter is real time, while Analytics only updates once a day.
  3. Statcounter is simple, Analytics is much more powerful in terms of the tracking information and analysis that it offers.
  4. Analytics cannot show a visual counter on a web page like Statcounter can.
  5. Statcounter maintains a log of the last few visitors, and for these, offers nearly all the possible information that can be gleaned without infringing privacy. Analytics only offers the analysis (the individual data is available, but only in a very obfuscated way)
  6. Performance of Analytics is slightly higher in terms of correctness – though that may only be subjective. I have found that Analytics results are just that bit closer to what I know myself from my logs and the visits of friends. StatCounter has missed one or two visitors that I know to have visited, while Analytics caught them.
  7. Analytics only measures JavaScript enabled visitors, StatCounter measures both.

Which brings me back to my initial question. You see, the point is that even in this “Age of Google”, Statcounter can still hold its own. Statcounter allows me to see the exact demographics of my visitors. Statcounter is highly customizable.

But most of all, it is the powerful real time analysis Statcounter affords me, that forces me to use it. My blog has a very bad habit of attracting traffic spikes. Without Statcounter, I would be left in the dust.

So my final solution? Use Statcounter for its real time capability and customization, and Analytics for the perfect bird’s eye view.

Not one, but both.

Major Update: The StatCounter team made a kind visit and offered a few accuracy suggestion to this review. Point No. 7 in the list is a result of that. They also offered that StatCounter offers installation support, unlike Analytics. However, because both are are so inherently simple, I do not include this in the list of matterable differences.

They also asked for clarification on the sentence related to “correctness”. Point 6 has been modified to this end.

Note that my line of thought and recommendation has not shifted – just a little factual accuracy.

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  1. 24 September 2008 at 4:39 PM

    Hi!

    I just want to thank you kindly for your excellent review of StatCounter.

    We work hard to provide the best service we can so we are always thrilled to come across posts such as yours. Should you ever have queries or concerns about StatCounter please don’t hesitate to contact us. (http://www.statcounter.com/contactus.html)

    All the best!

    Jenni
    StatCounter Team

  2. 24 September 2008 at 5:15 PM

    @ StatCounterJen: Thanks for the visit!

  3. jerry
    21 October 2008 at 11:14 PM

    Dude check ur fact analytic is updated 23 times a day not 1 time a day , it shows data on hr basis , try using the calender

  4. 22 October 2008 at 8:18 AM

    @ jerry: Thanks for bringing that point to light.

    However, while the number of page hits are indeed updated every hour, the analysis and visitor statistics are not (verified from my own logs). I have reason to believe that this trouble is only with my site – and I have contacted Google for support. I have yet to receive a proper reply.

    Meanwhile, all I can do is quote my experience.

  5. 9 December 2008 at 2:33 PM

    since statcounter is really expensive if you want more than basic stats, i use idlogger – http://www.idlogger.com which is very easy to install and powerful (and free of-course)

  6. 31 December 2009 at 10:57 AM

    Good comparison. Does your blog speed affected by installing both of them?

  7. 4 January 2010 at 6:35 PM

    @Jimmy MRR2: Actually, the load speed decreases by a few milliseconds, but it’s not noticeable.

  8. 28 March 2010 at 3:26 AM

    I use both counters on my site http://sparkposts.com and I came to this page because I was wondering why Statcounter and Google Analytics were showing me different data.

    Your article explained it very well. Thanks a lot.

  9. 28 March 2010 at 9:39 PM

    @Megan: You are most welcome.

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