Tracking your website – the difference between Google Analytics and AWStats

by on May 26, 2015

Google Analytics

Google Analytics

When it comes to online marketing for your small business, the big kahuna, undoubtedly, is your website. As part of your marketing efforts, you should be checking on your website traffic statistics to find out the number of website visitors, on what page they enter/exit, what search terms they used to find your site, what country they’re from…the list goes on. Getting this information is called “tracking your website”.



There are two common means by which you can access this information: Google Analytics and AWStats.

Google Analytics is a free program and quite easy to set up.

AWStats is your website server’s traffic statistics program that may be available to you through your web hosting company or as part of the program used to build your website. This might be a free option or your web hosting company might have an extra charge for you to access this.

Have you ever wondered which one is better to use? Let’s compare the two.

Google Analytics vs. AWStats

Note: neither one of these tracking tools are able to provide 100% accurate information, but can be used as estimate figures to give you the general idea of your website activity.

The main difference between the two is what they measure and what data they include. AWStats includes traffic from spiders/bots from search engines that crawl your site (ie. not humans), and also counts things like docs or photos accessed via another site. Google Analytics does not count this activity, really focusing in on delivering data that relates to how your site is served to and used by real people. So while at a quick glance, seeing that they both have different numbers (with AWStats always running higher) might make you think one is not accurate, it comes down to understanding what they are each actually tracking.

This is a very basic rundown of what these two tools do. If you’re looking for a more technical breakdown, check out this post from UltimateWB.

Which one is better?

If you currently have access to or the choice between either Google Analytics or AWStats, a lot of online advice would say to use both, and compare the difference between the two to get the most accurate guesstimate of website activity. But, the big question here is: do you have the time to be comparing statistics between two different website tracking tools? If your answer to that question is no, then I recommend Google Analytics as the way to go.

Generally from a marketing standpoint, Google Analytics is where it’s at. What you are most interested in on your site is what people are doing and how you can best serve them. Another big, important plus is that Analytics can be linked to their other services, such as Google Webmaster and Adwords (their online PPC advertising), for easy analysis. I also prefer the interface and usability of Analytics. As mentioned above, it’s free and quite easy to set-up.  Check out my previous post – Free (& must have!) online marketing tool – Google Analytics – for some instructions to get started.

Another huge big plus for Google Analytics is the new Real-Time reporting feature which allows you to check out user activity in real-time. This means you can see how many users are on your site this minute! Pretty fun 🙂

On to you – what program do you use to track your website or do you even track your website at all? If not, what’s holding you back?

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