Webalizer Vs. AWStats Vs. Google Analytics

By Warren Davies

Use traffic analysis to optimize your site for sales.
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Webalizer, AWStats and Google Analytics are all Web traffic analysis programs. Google Analytics is a “client-side” package, meaning data is collected by a JavaScript code added to your site's HTML pages, while the first two are “server-side,” meaning they use the data contained in your server logs. These are two very different approaches to traffic analysis, but their goal is the same -- to help you gain information on the behavior of your potential customers, so that you can customize your site for increased sales.


As a server-side analysis package, Webalizer has some important advantages and disadvantages. On one hand, it captures traffic that client-side analytics programs may not, such as users whose computers have JavaScript turned off. On the other hand, it often over-estimates data. Lacking cookies to recognize visitors, it sets a 30-minute cutoff after which a new page view is considered a separate visit. This means that if a user loads your site but doesn't click another link for 31 minutes, Webalizer logs that single visit twice. It also lumps traffic from search engine spiders in with human traffic, further inflating the numbers.


Like Webalizer, AWStats produces its data using raw server logs, and as a result it is subject to the same pros and cons. The cutoff point for new visits is 60 minutes, however, so AWStats gives slightly lower traffic estimates than Webalizer. However, it is superior over Webalizer in the amount of data it displays and the presentation of that data. In addition to visits, page views, hits and bandwidth, AWStats also displays metrics such as referring sites and which search engines are sending you traffic.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is the most popular traffic analysis package. It has a huge suite of visualization options and data manipulation tools, including goal and event tracking, visitor path tracking and more control over the date ranges under display, to name but a few. However, it does have downsides: it tends to underestimate traffic slightly, cannot track visitors who use computers with JavaScript turned off, and has a learning curve before you can get the most out of it.


If you host your own website, you likely already have both AWStats and Webalizer, or at least an equivalent server-side package. They are better than nothing, but to truly optimize your online operations, you need the power that a program like Analytics provides. AWStats and Webalizer can give you rough data on how much traffic you get and which pages are the most popular, while Google Analytics pulls all this together into a single story, helping you see how the traffic flows within your site, as well as how pages are doing individually.