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Google Analytics Goes Wonky

Posted by on Jan 18, 2009

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Talk about your oddities. Deciding to do a regular check of statistics on Google Analytics for this blog, I came across some of the oddest figures I’ve seen in a very long time. I don’t believe them and I’m not trusting them; let me tell you why.

According to Analytics, this blog was visited 661 times yesterday. Remember, that’s not unique views, but supposedly actual visitors. That’s just phenomenal; it blew my scale away. Except I don’t believe it; couldn’t happen.

Why? Because none of the other numbers make any sense. Supposedly, it wasn’t one article that attracted someone’s attention. Every article on the site was visited at least once. The average time per page view was only six seconds. Now, pageviews could be accurate, but it doesn’t correlate with the number of visits.

Out of those 661 visits, 652 of them came from the United States. No, that’s not necessarily uncommon. I thought that maybe it was me, sitting on one of my pages all day, but I didn’t; matter of fact, I actually shut the computer down for a couple of hours yesterday. And, when we look further, 639 of those visits came from California; I live in New York. And even more, 637 of those 639 came from the California city of,… Montara. Where the heck is Montara? My wife said “it’s probably that big dot there”; she’s a poor man’s Bugs Bunny.

So, someone from Montara could have decided to look at every page on my blog, as that’s possible, but that wouldn’t account for 637 visits, would it? I mean, can anyone see one person coming to my blog, looking up a page, then leaving and coming back? And, that person didn’t come back through the main page if they did do it, because the main page doesn’t even show 20 people coming through that way.

Part of me wondered whether it was some sort of botnet attack, but, since I don’t know much about those, it would make me wonder why none of my other sites were “blessed” with such traffic at the same time, since they’re all on the same server. I just don’t get it; strangest thing I’ve yet to see.

Does anyone else have any ideas on this? Obviously there’s nothing I can do about it, but sit here being freaked out and a little bit stunned. I guess I’ll have to keep an eye on things to see if it goes back to normal by tomorrow, but still,… Weird.

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Boyz II Men:

I’ve been using analytics and haven’t seen any trouble with my readings. I was thinking about what could have caused it and think maybe it was a bot or crawler of some kind. Usually google picks these up and wouldn’t count it, but the fact that it hit every page makes it seem unlikely that it was some kind of human doing it.

January 18th, 2009 | 1:09 PM

That’s kind of my thought, Boyz. I don’t understand how bots work, or why it would decide to pick me for a day, but as long as I haven’t been taken over (far as I know), I’ll just keep an eye on things for a bit.

January 18th, 2009 | 1:34 PM

Hey Mitch,
Sometimes it’s better not to know things I think… 🙂
I googled Montara, California. It’s outside the SF/Bay Area, and just so you know, it’s about 300 miles away from me so don’t be blaming me. 🙂
The population was 2,950 at the 2000 census, and it seems it’s claim to fame is it has a lighthouse.
See, I told you sometimes it’s better not to know.
Bizarre stuff!
~ Steve, the trade show guru

Trade Show Guru´s last blog post..Balance

January 18th, 2009 | 4:31 PM

hi Mitch,
Actually, you may want to google this phrase, “Montara google analytics”
Your post is #7, but more importantly, the first result talks about this happening to other people. You are not alone. I don’t know what it means though…
~ Steve, the trade show guru

Trade Show Guru´s last blog post..Balance

January 18th, 2009 | 4:36 PM

I did check it out after you mentioned it; I didn’t think about doing it before. That’s really odd, but it seems to be harmless. I didn’t earn a single Adsense dollar yesterday, so I’m not worried about that either, like someone else was.

January 18th, 2009 | 6:08 PM

Well Dennis, Analytics is still pretty good, but it seems one entity can game the system, just like pretty much anything else I figure. In this case, my domain also showed a major league spike in page views and visitors also, so it wasn’t just Google.

January 19th, 2009 | 10:03 AM
Taris Janitens:

This is the first time I’ve heard of a google product not working correctly!!!!

My best guess would be some type of search engine or something – but again thats just a guess

Taris Janitens´s last blog Almost Ready for Launch!

January 19th, 2009 | 10:29 AM

Well Taris, as I told Dennis, seems my ISP’s stats also went nuts, so it wasn’t just Google.

January 19th, 2009 | 11:15 AM

I use different analytics tools, and it seems like there are a lot of variation in the numbers. I’ve gotten to the point I care more about how people get to my site (keywords, links, etc) than the numbers.

~ Kristi

Kikolani | Poetry, Photography´s last blog post..My Flickr Meme – Creating A Mosaic

January 21st, 2009 | 4:56 PM

I think I care about both, Kristi, though I care more about people who visit. I care about the numbers, though, because no one wants to write for just themselves. I’d love the entire world to read every single word I write, but since that’s not going to happen I want to shoot for as many people as I can get.

January 21st, 2009 | 6:09 PM

But Kristi, you’re using a WordPress theme, so if you add Askimet, it will take care of almost all of that spam without bothering a single person. I mean, I’ve been using Askimet on this blog since I started it, and on my other blog for at least 4 years, and if I’d never mentioned it no one would know. It’s an absolute must.

January 21st, 2009 | 6:11 PM

Hey there, it’s great to know that there are more bloggers out there who have large numbers of visitors from Montara.

I run a music review blog ( in my native language: Dutch (I’m from The Netherlands, Europe) so I was really surprised to have so many visitors from the US.

Weird thing is, that apart from the extra visitors, it doesn’t really make a huge change in my bouncerate or what so ever, the visitors from Montara have like the same bouncerate as my site’s average, also the average of the time spent on a page is the same.

Some kind of Google Crawl Thing?

March 1st, 2009 | 4:52 PM

It might have been a Google crawl, Edward, but I’m doubting it, as I don’t think that’s where they are, plus it was sporadic as to who it affected. It did throw off my bounce rates, so I just ignored it for a month.

March 1st, 2009 | 7:47 PM