CloudFlare Visitor Stats Different Than Google Analytics?

Authored By: James LePage
Published On: July 23, 2020

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Many times the Cloudflare Total Unique Visitors count is much different than Google Analytics Unique Visitors Count. In this article, we're going to figure out why.

If you've recently checked your Cloudflare analytics tab, you may have been greeted with surprising data. The Cloudflare analytics tab displays three major statistics. Total unique visitors, maximum unique visitors, and minimum unique visitors. The first is measured in a period of 24 hours, while the other two are measured per hour.

Introducing Partner Analytics
So. Many. Visits.

If you compare this data to data collected by Google Analytics in the same period of time, you'll find that there's a massive deviation between the two datasets. Typically, Cloudflare displays almost 10 times the amount of unique visitors when compared to Google Analytics.

The New Google Analytics Home: Know Your Data
Google Analytics Is Much Different Than Cloudflare Analytics

We saw this interesting behavior, Cloudflare total unique visitors being much different than Google Analytics total unique visitors on several client websites running the Cloudflare Free plan, and wanted to figure out why exactly the data was so different.

It also begs the question, which data set is the correct one? Am I really getting 1000 visitors per day, or am I only getting 100? Not only is getting accurate data important for your own use, but if you want to run advertisements or sponsorship deals on your website, you need to have a perfect understanding of how many people are visiting your site.

Why is Cloudflare Analytics And Google Analytics Data So Different?

There's a reason why Cloudflare analytics and Google Analytics data is so different. Both of the services have discrepancies because one measures total unique visitors different than the other service. Let's take a look at how Cloudflare and Google Analytics measure total unique visitors, which should make the reason why the data is so different apparent.

How Google Analytics measures Total Unique Visitors

Google Analytics, and other analytics platforms like it use JavaScript to track visitors. Every time a visitor loads a page on your website, this JavaScript is also loaded and tells Google that a unique visitor has entered the page. This visitor is tracked throughout the website, ensuring that the total unique visitors only increases by one for each individual IP address.

The Google Analytics JavaScript tracking is only triggered when a real visitor loads the page. APIs, bots, crawlers, and other entities will not trigger the JavaScript tracking, meaning that they won't show up on your Google Analytics. Also, some browsers and individuals choose to block JavaScript, meaning that Google Analytics won't see them as a real visitor , as the JavaScript tracking will not work for them.

How Cloudflare measures Total Unique Visitors

To calculate total unique visitors, Cloudflare gathers its data differently. Total unique visitors to Cloudflare is every unique IP address that makes a request to their DNS or CDN. As soon as that unique IP address makes the request, Cloudflare counts it as a visit.

The reason why these unique visitors are so much higher than Google Analytics is because bots, crawlers, APIs, and individuals who are blocking JavaScript still count as a unique visitor to Cloudflare.

Cloudflare also counts these guys as views

Summary

To summarize why Google Analytics and Cloudflare data is so different, the short answer is: both use total unique visitors as a label, but define this label in different ways.

To Google, a unique visitor is anyone that toggles their JavaScript. Their JavaScript is only toggled by a real visitor on the web page (though in some cases bots will toggle JavaScript as well).

To Cloudflare, a unique visitor is any IP address that doesn't have a match for the same period. Google excludes bots as visitors while Cloudflare includes bots visitors.

Conclusion

We hope that this article helped clarify why exactly Cloudflare analytics and Google Analytics display different data.

If you have any similar questions or comments, leave them in the section below!

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Alex K P
1 month ago

Thank you so much for the detailed information.

James LePage is the founder of Isotropic Design, a digital agency that builds WordPress websites. I read, write and design constantly!

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