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Google's Ghosts

September 20th 2015


SilverServers offers SEO Management and Consultation to clients in Kamloops, British Columbia and around the world. Reading and interpreting your Analytics stats can be an exercise in translation, nevermind trying to find the time in the business world to sit down and do so. One of the most confusing parts of Google's Analytics service, is the ability for bots and other ad-based services to spam either your website or Google's service directly with fake spam traffic.

The effect of this fake traffic on your stats is not only harmful, but can build and build over time. The longer it goes on, the longer your ability to interpret your stats is impaired. How much of this tainted data is coming in? Let's take a look!

For one month, we've kept an eye on a specific Google Analytics account. Without removing the spam, the site received an average of 450 visitors a month over the past year. Much of it in large repeated bursts. Over that timespan, those users spent 0 minutes and 0 seconds per visit. More than 96% of them left the site after viewing one page. 98% of those sessions were from brand new visitors to the site. Starting to sound a little off?

A whole bunch of users that only view one page, spend literally no time on the page and then never return to the site? Spam is the most likely, and in this case obvious, culprit. Every single one of these "visits" can drop the averages of many important stats of your site. Time on site and pages viewed are extremely important simple metrics used to get a good idea of the health of your site. These fake or "ghost" visits can malign those numbers quite quickly.

There are many ways to deal with these types of stat-diluting bugs. You can use Segments to simply remove them from view. You can use filters to stop their traffic from hitting your stats profile in the first place, but make sure your filter is set up properly lest you lose real traffic! Most of these ghost visits don't even actually visit your website. They only need to send a straightforward HTTP request to Google's Analytics servers with your Analytics ID in tow. Sometimes they find out your ID purposefully. Others are random ID match happenstance. Lists after lists of valid Google Analytics IDs that are run through like smorgasboards. Unwitting webmasters have been known to pay SEO "Wizards" a chunk of change for a boost to their stats, only to find out these ghost visits are what they were paying for.

In this intense SEO world, every website can use a boost to their SEO strategy. Whether you are just starting out on a set of keywords, or you've got a long running domain with a high PageRank, your stats can benefit from regular check up.

This becomes even more apparent when you realize, the above Google Analytics ID that was full of spam traffic? It wasn't even connected to a live domain.

Talk to SilverServers if you want to get into the world of SEO. We offer simple, efficient and effective plans for any level of webmaster or business owner. We're sure we can help you!

For more SEO tips, check out our SEO Tips page!

Also, for a slightly more expanded discussion on this topic aimed at our Grassroots SEO program clients, check out "What Is Visitor Spam and How Does It Affect My Website".

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