Why your huge traffic spike… isn’t
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You may have noticed something over the past few weeks. You’ll see Google Analytics reporting a huge spike in traffic — and then later in the day, you’ll see that your stats have been adjusted to normal levels. What just happened? Did someone “steal” your readers? Were they ever there?! The answer is pretty interesting.
According to the sources I’m finding, this traffic flux is caused by bots. Analytics identifies it as such and adjusts the number to mitigate the effect — and that causes your traffic report to drop back to normal levels.
Is this happening to you?
Open Analytics and go to Audience -> Technology -> Browser & OS Report. Look for Mozilla Compatible Agent.
Mozilla’s not a culprit, but it’s an indicator. If you have an unusually high amount of traffic from this source, it’s a clue that something’s up.
Now open Audience -> Technology -> Network report and apply this advanced segment to show only visits where the Browser contains Mozilla Compatible Agent. (Special thanks for the Advanced Segment to Lunametrics.com).
Once you’ve installed the Custom Segment, go back to the main Google Analytics dashboard — Audience Overview (as seen above) — and click the downward arrow at the upper left. Select The “Include Mozilla” segment, and then click Apply.
(Note: The image above was created after Analytics normalized my traffic spike.)
Now scroll down and click Service Providers (under Systems). Look for the following:
- yahoo! inc.
- microsoft corp
- google inc.
- stumbleupon inc.
- inktomi corporation
Also… look at the stats. Here are some dead giveaways for bot-traffic:
- 100% new visits
- 100% bounce rate
- 0o:oo:00 average visit duration
- 1 pages/visit.
If what you’re seeing lines up with the above, you’ve got bots!
Filtering these results out of my report is fairly easy. Click on Admin to access the following dashboard.
Set up a filter with the following parameters:
The filter pattern is: ^(microsoft corp(oration)?|inktomi corporation|yahoo! inc\.|google inc\.|stumbleupon inc\.)$|gomez
Your Analytics report will now automatically filter out these bots.
But that’s a bandage; not a cure
You’re right. The bot-traffic is still there, and it’s causing your traffic report to be sampled — and that’s not particularly good.
The only problem is this — I haven’t been able to dig up a really good solution yet — at least not one that I feel is easily implemented by a garden-variety user. However, I’m going to keep digging, and I’ll report back when I find something that’s useful.
In the meantime — at least for my own curiosity — I’ve solved the Mystery of the Disappearing Traffic Spike. I’ll know better than to get my hopes up next time I wake up to a huge traffic uptick (at least until I can verify that it’s legit). And when it disappears later in the day, I won’t feel quite so cheated.