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Understand information in your reports and troubleshoot reporting issues such as self-referrals, (not set) data, and inaccurate information
 
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Questionable Google Anayltics statistics

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 1
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

I set up google analytics for a website about 6 years ago. The site didn't last long and hasn't been up for 5 years. Just today I logged in to Google Analytics, having completely forgotten about the site. But despite the website not being up for 5 years (as in when you go the the address it says "The server at www.xxxxxx.com can't be found, because the DNS lookup failed. ") I see results such as:

 

- Last 30 Days: 40 hits
- 26 users on January 16th 2016
- 30 Day Active Users: 38
- 12% of sessions came from the US

 

I was planning to use Google Analytics for a very niche software tool to be used by haematologists. So I expect traffic to be very low and therefore small variances will tell me if its popularity is increasing.

 

But given the ridiculous statistics above for a non-existent website (IT HASN'T EXISTED FOR 6 YEARS!), whats the point in me using Google Analytics?

Also, how were these stats produced? I had assumed the Google Analytics javascript file would record each hit and post to Google servers. But since the site doesnt exist, that javascript file isn't being served. So where are Google getting their absurd stats?

 

By the way, I only check for the last month (January 2016). My non-existent website may well have been even more wildly popular last year.

2 Expert replyverified_user

Re: Questionable Google Anayltics statistics

Top Contributor
# 2
Top Contributor

Hi Mark :-)

 

It sounds like its possibly ghost spam data. This has been an issue on and off in the recent past (not just for google analytics but other site tracking solutions too). It can also happen if someone likes your site and decides to copy some of your source code and it includes the tracking code snippet then uses it on their site, you will see data for the other site in your reports.
This can be prevented with what is known as a hostname filter applied to the reporting View.

Usual best practice when using filters is to leave the initial default View without any filters applied and then create a "Testing" View for testing filters and other changes out on.. and then also a new "Master" View for reporting purposes and apply any filters to this once they have been tested.

This helps prevent data loss from any incorrectly configured filters being applied etc. 
A hostname filter is straightforward and there is a comprehensive article about ghost

referral spam and the filter setup here:
https://moz.com/blog/stop-ghost-spam-in-google-analytics-with-one-filter

Bronwyn Vourtis, Google Analytics Top Contributor
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Questionable Google Anayltics statistics

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 3
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

<script>
(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){
(i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o),
m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m)
})(window,document,'script','https://www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js','ga');

ga('create', 'UA-93698740-1', 'auto');
ga('send', 'pageview');

</script>

Questionable Google Anayltics statistics

Rising Star
# 4
Rising Star

Just to back up Bronwyns excellent answer - this is not an unusual scenario. I've seen the same behaviour in similar circumstances and, absolutely, it does lead to a 'WTF' moment. Spam, or someone simply copying and pasting your code, is almost certainly the culprit. 

 

As someone who as has worked for GA as a number of years, both with regular and premium accounts, I can say that there is no reason for you not to use GA to support your online marketing activities. However like any complex analytics tool, you do need to pay attention to how you set-up the implementation, which includes using filters to remove unwanted hits. 

John Wedderburn, Advertiser Community, Rising Star
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