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AdWords vs Google Analytics: Clicks vs Visits
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AdWords vs Google Analytics: Clicks vs Visits

Analytics & Tracking

When we try to compare the data collected by  AdWords with those of Google Analytics , we arrive at differences that often leave us with a bad impression of inaccuracy in the data collected. This is the case of the figures displayed in  Google Analytics regarding clicks and visits from AdWords . What explains the apparent inconsistency?



Before getting to the heart of the matter, it is worth clarifying two important measures, clicks and visits. We can never say it enough, Google AdWords is about clicks, Google Analytics is about visits! More often than not, these two measures are confused even though they have important differences. By definition, in the AdWords universe, a click is counted when a visitor clicks on an ad in Google's search results. After clicking, the visitor arrives on the site, resulting in a visit recorded by Google Analytics.

In this case, a click leads to a visit? According to the figures from Google Analytics, this is clearly not the case:

The explanation

For Google Analytics, a visit can last up to 30 minutes. So a visitor who arrives on the site, navigates 5 min and returns 10 min later will be counted as a single visit by Google Analytics. The same is true for visits from AdWords: a visitor who returns to a site three times via an AdWords advertisement within 30 minutes will count as 3 clicks and only one visit.

To find out for sure, we used the Vericlix click fraud detection tool (no screenshots , the service is currently offline), which allowed us to confirm that on our site, several visitors returned via an AdWords ad, in less than 30 minutes. This behavior is not so surprising: a large proportion of Internet users are not aware that paid results are actually paid!   

Other differences in the calculation

Other elements contribute to the difference that appears between clicks and visits:

  • AdWords applies a fraud detection filter to the data it collects to avoid charging the advertiser unnecessarily. In this case, AdWords blocks the click, but Google Analytics counts a visit anyway.
  • Support for JavaScript, images and cookies : to be able to count a visit, Google Analytics requires the visitor to support these three elements. AdWords for its part does not require these requirements to collect information relating to a click. 
  • If a redirect is in place between the destination URL entered in AdWords and the page on which the visitor lands after clicking on the ad, the information contained in the URL is lost by the redirect and Google Analytics cannot count the data. from AdWords.