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Increase in Direct Traffic to the homepage

[ Edited ]
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 1
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Hi Everyone, 

 

I am experiencing a sudden increase in the direct traffic (>700%) only to the homepage for the past 3 days as compared to previous period. I understand this can be a common bot problem which can be resolved by filtering out data by identifying certain pattern in the session numbers segmented by service provider/ location/network domain etc. in the secondary dimension. However, to my surprise I am unable to understand any such pattern this time. For instance, I applied following secondary dimensions for session, pageviews, bounce rate and session duration metrics:

- City/Country

- OS

- Network Domain

- Service Provider

- Flash version

- Java support

- Affinity/ In Market

- Gender and Age

- Device Category

- Hostname

 

For all the above, Session and page views numbers increased in range 200-1000% whereas the bounce rate, session duration have decreased by 60-80%. The bounce rate to the home page via direct medium was 52% and now it is 86% and session duration was always around 03:30 and now it is anywhere between 00:45. This surely raise doubts about bot hitting the page but its inconclusive for me to understand how and where. 

 

Three things I have confirmed,

- no code level changes or GTM changes have happened in the past two-three days. The analytics debugger shows one page view getting fired on the homepage. 

- I have an app but no analytics code have been added.

- In order to notify me about the uptime status, I have registered with uptimebot that pings the server to get the page status across the site. However, it has been set up for all pages n my site and numbers for no other page show any distortion except for home page. 

 

Can someone help me understand this behaviour, the reasons behind it and the best solution ahead? Is it a permanent problem or should i just wait for a couple of days for numbers to normalize? 

 

Any help would be really helpful. Thank you in advance.

 

Regards,

Keval Kothari. 

1 Expert replyverified_user

Re: Increase in Direct Traffic to the homepage

[ Edited ]
Participant ✭ ✭ ✭
# 2
Participant ✭ ✭ ✭

Hi Keval,

 

Thanks for the amazing explanation. You've really dug into it.

 

One additional thing that you should do is to compare different traffic sources. Just take the last week and maybe you can identify some specific patterns or spikes like that one:

 

spikes.png

 

Did you analyze those dimensions (country, hostname etc) if an advanced segment was applied (direct traffic only)? If you haven't done it yet, really recommend doing it.

 

Here are some of the topics that might help you as well:

1) https://www.en.advertisercommunity.com/t5/Reports/Direct-Traffic-Issues/m-p/476910/highlight/true#M3...

2) https://www.en.advertisercommunity.com/t5/Referral-Spam-Traffic/Direct-Traffic-absurdly-high/m-p/534...

3) https://www.en.advertisercommunity.com/t5/Referral-Spam-Traffic/Unnatural-Direct-Traffic-to-Homepage...

 

Hope this helps. Let us know how it goes. We'll try to help you as much as we can.

Taavi

Re: Increase in Direct Traffic to the homepage

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 3
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Thank you Taavi for your response. I did check traffic from different sources. It is only the direct channel that is playing the culprit. For instance, below is the snapshot of traffic from all channels to the home page alone in the last 15 days. 

 

Untitled.png

 

Any genuine rise in website traffic should have impacted all the channels. Also, the behavioural metrics like bounce rate etc. should be constant. However, this is not the case. Smiley Sad 

 

 

 

 

Increase in Direct Traffic to the homepage

Participant ✭ ✭ ✭
# 4
Participant ✭ ✭ ✭

To be honest, it's pretty hard to figure out what might cause this problem without seeing actual data. 

 

Recommend reading this great article written by @Carlos Escalerahttps://www.ohow.co/common-causes-of-unnatural-spikes-in-direct-traffic-google-analytics/

 

Maybe you'll find something new. Are you 100% sure that there are no patterns?

 

Hope this helps. Let us know how it goes.

Taavi

Re: Increase in Direct Traffic to the homepage

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 5
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Thanks Taavi. 

 

I had referred to @Carlos Escalera's  article before I posted on the community. I checked all the points mentioned in the article that helped me find any pattern. But I couldn't. 

 

To my best knowledge, I have tried all options to find out a pattern and hence I am worried if I am missing anything critical. Therefore was hoping to find a solution from someone who has faced a similar issue like this anytime. 

 

Appreciate your help Taavi. 

Keval. 

 

Increase in Direct Traffic to the homepage

Top Contributor
# 6
Top Contributor

Keval,

 

Look at it from a bot owner's perspective -- what would they want from your site?  Check the browser, browser version and landing pages for a spike.  Most bots want something, and sometimes you get a homemade one that leaves crap like this behind. It usually uses a few browser versions in the code, and may either hit one page only, or programmatically step through your whole site.  People with product sites often get targeted by scrapers; bots trying to grab all you product data in one swoop. 15,000 sessions/hit per day is a targeted effort.

Mike Sullivan, Google Analytics Top Contributor
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Re: Increase in Direct Traffic to the homepage

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 7
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Thanks Mike.

Apologies to not reply to this earlier as I was away for a couple of days and for the weekend. I wondered on your point of bots crawling and programmatically affecting other pages across the site also. It seems that from the day the abnormality in the session numbers observed on the home page, my other pages also have shown an inconclusive increase in traffic from the direct medium. Below is the snapshot of top 5 pages wrt sessions. However, unlike the homepage, the behavioral dimensions of these pages hasnt been affected - again doubting whether this is a genuine increase.

 

Untitled.png 

No pattern is observable in terms of browsers, browser sizes etc. at all. Is server log my last chance to figure it out? 

 

Regards,

Keval