Initially I was excited to write a blog post announcing my experiment in posting news hits caused large growth in user sessions via Google Analytics. However, upon further analysis I noticed the session count did not correlate with my blog posts at all. Thus, I figured further investigation was necessary.
Below is the graph of what 486 user sessions looked like initially. The highest peak in the middle of the graph marks 96 sessions on March 17. There was no activity on the site by my end on that day.
After considering what could have caused this phenomenon, I looked to determine where traffic was arriving from. Entering the “Acquisition Overview” dashboard in Google Analytics, I noticed there were dozens of spam web spiders/robots who arrived at the page automatically.
Similar to most new situations, I consulted Google Search (aka my brain) and found this resource: Removing Referral Spam from Google Analytics
After creating custom filters for future spam visitors and advanced segments for the historical data, my wonderful 486 session count quickly became 34 sessions with a peak count of 5 in the same time period as seen in the graph below.
Am I disappointed my blog did not have hundreds of views? A little bit. But I am much happier to be aware of the actual popularity of the few posts I had tested on my blog. There’s no such thing as bad news after all, just new news to react to.
As a result of learning from this experiment, I have moved my news postings to my Twitter account: @jackwjchong. Via using various Twitter tools, I have been obtaining a steady stream of 5-10 favorites, 1-2 followers and an occasional retweet on per day average. Talk about immediate learning and immediate results!
The potential fallacy of Google Analytics, as with any analytical application, is relying too much on the data without considering if it makes logical sense. 486 sessions would be a great benchmark to call a day on, but noticing it does not correlate with any action and investigating allowed me to find the real cause of the high session count.
Also watch out for those spammers…