Why Doesn't Google Analytics Show My Traffic?

Your traffic campaign is perfect. You’ve optimized your landing page to convert, your banners are pulling great CTRs, your webpage is set up for you to track your results through Google Analytics, and your vendor ad report says you’ve gotten 1,000 clicks! Everything is great!

That is until you open Google Analytics and see only 500 sessions under your ad campaign.

What’s wrong? Is your vendor ad report lying or is Analytics not working? Here are a few insights to help you understand the data that you are seeing.

First, remember that Analytics relies on your tracking code executing every time a user hits the page. That is how it gathers its data. Because everything hinges on a snippet of JavaScript executing quickly, there are a lot of snags and pitfalls to avoid.

1. Your site is slow.

No one is particularly patient when waiting for a page to load. If your website doesn’t load screaming fast, then people tend to click away rather than wait. This results in a click on your ad report, but nothing in Analytics because the tracking code never loaded.

2. Your Analytics snippet is too low in your code.

If your tracking code has to wait for other scripts to run before it executes, then it will take longer for Analytics to record a session. If a person clicks away or on another link before that script executes, then your ad report will show a click, but nothing in Analytics.

3. You are using redirects in your ad campaign.

Redirects add to the time between a click and when Analytics can record the visit. Any added time increases the chance that a user will bounce instead of waiting for the page to load. That will result in a click in the ad report, but again, nothing in Analytics.

4. Your web hosting service is slow.

Your website may be optimized for speed, but if your hosting company can only support slower speeds or has limits on bandwidth, your site can still load slow. This results in losing people who clicked on an ad, but who don’t want to keep waiting for your page to load.

5. Your visitors don’t want to be tracked.

If a person is using an extension to block being tracked online, then your ad report will show a click, but Analytics will be missing the data.

6. Your visitors’ browser does not support JavaScript.

If a person is not using an up-to-date browser or does not have JavaScript enabled, it could result in Analytics not being able to record the session. Again, you would have a click, but no corresponding data in Analytics.

7. You did not include UTM parameters.

This may sound obvious, but if your ad campaign is running through an ad server, you need to add UTM parameters to identify the traffic. Analytics will not show the specific website you are targeting as the referrer because the click was passed through an ad server. It will not show up as organic traffic from that website.

Some of the above things you can control, but some you cannot. Try these steps to improve the data gathered by Analytics:

  • Optimize your website for speed
  • Place your Google Analytics tracking code before any other JavaScript in your code
  • Use direct URLs (with UTM parameters) – not redirects
  • Make sure your website hosting service is delivering your page at top speed

At the end of the day, Google Analytics can provide valuable demographic data to help you better understand who is responding to your offer, but remember to rely on your vendor ad report to show you the actual traffic that went to your website.


The details for this overview and the lowdown from Google itself can be found here.