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Been using CloudFlare for one of our sites for about a week now, and CloudFlare reports 450% more real visitor page views than Google Analytics (so that's not bots or blocked threats).

I understand that there will be discrepancy because CloudFlare is measuring all page requests, Google Analytics is firing off a JavaScript request once the page has downloaded, so I was prepared for a 20-30%, maybe 50% difference, but 450%?

Seems like there is a problem somewhere. I have used the Google Analytics debugger for chrome and everything seems to work fine. The GA code is in the head so should be fired quite promptly.

Is such a big gap normal? If so, why, and if not, what on earth is causing it?

updated

Sorry, I don't think I was clear, I understood the differences between the CF and GA stats before I started with CF, and expected them to be different. It is the size of the difference that is concerning.

CF clearly separates bots & crawlers from regular visitors, so the figure I am comparing with GA is just the regular visitors; so the difference says that only 1 in 5 of visitors trigger Google Analytics?

"your CloudFlare visitor number is most likely higher"

Doesn't do it justice!

  • I have the same problem with even a greater discrepancy. I think the number of visitors can be the reason. How many page-views does your GA report for a month? For me the number of page-views reported by CF for a specific period is 223.000.000 while the number reported by GA is 22.000.000. This definitely can not be due to robots or .js. I think this is due to data limit of GA as reported by itself they don't guarantee to deliver right data for more than 10m page-views a month. Anyway this is what I think and still I'm not sure. – Manoochehr Nov 6 '14 at 13:59
  • Another thing: if one of your image is hotlinked, it probably triggers a visit on Cloudflare whereas it should not. It is tricky. I would say solid visits will mostl likely be recorded by Google Analytics than by Cloudflare. – David 天宇 Wong Feb 4 '17 at 12:51
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CloudFlare acknowledge this and provide the following explanation:

CloudFlare Analytics vs. Other Services

Google Analytics and other web-based analytics programs track visitors that trigger JavaScript. As a result, threats, bots and automated crawlers are not recorded since these visitors typically do not trigger JavaScript. These services also don't track visitors who leave a page before it is fully loaded or have Javascript disabled. CloudFlare tracks all of your traffic by requests, so your CloudFlare visitor number is most likely higher.

Keep in mind: CloudFlare can only track visitors that go through the CloudFlare system, which is represented by an orange cloud on your DNS settings page.

They claim that their own analytics "are often more accurate than other services that rely on JavaScript."

  • thanks for your time, but I understand the reasoning, it's that my mind is blown by the scale of the difference! I had updated my question with a bit more detail – CodeMonkey Apr 13 '13 at 12:11
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I have observed similar differences when comparing Apache logs with analytics and have seen a (one day) ratio of 1000:1. It is remotely possible that you have some userbase that blocks Google-Analytics with products like NoScript and Ghostery, or doesn't run any javascript at all. I have found that Piwik gives better reports and can be setup such that tracker blockers do not block its script and users with no javascript can still be tracked via a 1x1 pixel image tracking scheme. However, I have no actual experience with CloudFlare or CDNs in general, so I don't know if it impacts Piwik's reporting.

  • 80% blocking GA seems very high to me, does that sound normal to you? Out of curiosity, What did you use to analyse apache logs and filter out bots & threats? – CodeMonkey Apr 20 '13 at 21:24
  • I think the typical percentage of users actively blocking through plugins would be less than 5%, but I have no real basis for this other than observing browsing habits of friends, co-workers, etc. For Apache logs I just use AWStats - doesn't filter anything, at least not how I have it set up. I switched to Piwik because one of my sites doesn't run any scripting and for other sites I just like the reports more. – Paul Apr 21 '13 at 1:24
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I've never looked at my Cloudflare Analytics until now, but yours are actually closer to Analytics than mine are. Cloudflare reports 20x the number of unique visits compared to Google, and it's approximately the same for Pageviews.

  • Interesting, so is that something you are likely to investigate further? – CodeMonkey Apr 20 '13 at 21:25
  • I looked through the logs a bit, and it seems to be mostly bots causing the discrepancy. That, and I have an "up-time" checker that runs on Google Docs which is hitting the site every 5 minutes. – nathangiesbrecht Apr 21 '13 at 15:21
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it's not that difficult to understand why Cloudflare numbers are so much higher than you GA. the reason is being that Cloudflare is a middle man. let me explain in detail.

You see when someone go to a website which uses Cloudflare the users send a request to Cloudflare which it's all info like IP user-agent and such other. so it doesn't even matter if the user using the extensions like script-blocker or others Cloudflare will know that someone has visited your site.

why numbers are high? You see whenever a site gets registered or domain to be precise the big man like Google sends their bots to gather info. remember not only google sends their bots but there are a lot of others. there are a lot of ways for Cloudflare to know its a bot or real person but I'm not sure if they separate or remove the bot visits.

also, these measures to differentiate can be easily fooled.

conclusion: whenever your website gets requested it adds +1 to the total number.

extra thoughts: I'm not really sure but if you add a .js or .png or any other files in your webite. your browser makes a request to the given link which might also count as a visit to the site. ex: if in a page there are 10 pics and to load all, your browser make request to all those pics individually which might make the visits number from 1 to 11. (10 for pics and one for website HTML)

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