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Your Google Analytics Report is Lying

The Google Analytics logo.

Some of you who own websites like to pore over your Google Analytics reports. But are you seeing relevant numbers? Take a look at these statistics on a brand new website:

session overview in Google Analytics showing lots of junk traffic

We see around 100 sessions on June 3, but the bounce rate over seven days is a horrible 89%! This site seems to repel people faster than a skunk does.

For my own interest, I had set up a separate analytics view designed to filter out the data for irrelevant traffic. Take a look at this report for the same site over the same days:

A filtered view of the traffic that shows more relevant data.

Out of the 100 sessions on June 3, approximately 3 of them were meaningful visitors! Users dropped from 277 to 9. But the bounce rate is a much more respectable 43%. This experiment shows that for low-traffic websites, your raw analytics data is worthless.

Why is that? Bots. Bots are computer programs that crawl the web for various purposes. Many bots are respectable. For example, Google Bot finds the information on your website, puts that information in the index, and shows your website in response to Googler’s queries. He is your friend. But there are many bad bots that don’t declare who they are. Bots won’t buy from you; so they should not be counted in your data. In this case, it appears that less than 4% of users are actually people browsing the site.

Do you have a low-traffic website? Prepare to be deflated! Most of the traffic you do have is junk traffic that will not do anything good for your business. But after you have shed a few tears, take a deep breath. Once you have meaningful data, you can begin to make meaningful online marketing decisions.

Adrian M. Nolt is a website developer, photographer, and online marketing specialist at Rosewood Marketing. You can contact him at adrian@rosewood.us.com or ask for Adrian when you call (717) 866-5000.