Google Analytics Data Skewed Because Of Instant Previews

google-analytics-instantI personally haven’t noticed this yet, but apparently there are some reports out there that say Google Instant Previews are skewing analytics data. In some cases Google Instant does a real-time fetch of the page to generate an instant preview, and this can be inadvertently counted as a visit by some analytics tools, including Google Analytics.

I thought it might be worth providing a run-down of the primary Web analytics platforms are dealing with the issue:

Google Analytics:

Google basically says, “oops!”  They apologize for not blocking the Google Instant Preview bot immediately, but from now on, this bot will be blocked by Google Analytics.  They also will not be re-analyzing past data to remove the data they forgot to filter out initially.  They do pass along a blog post informing Google Analytics users how to segment their data to discover how much the bot truly is affecting your reporting.

Omniture:

Omniture has more information, and more options!  Their statistics show that less than 1% of all traffic is coming from the Google Instant Preview bot, so it’s really not *that* big of a deal.  However, they give a recommendation for discovering how much traffic has been coming from the bot (apparently the browser shows up as Safari 3.1).

If you decide that you don’t care about this traffic, then you can do nothing about it and it will continue to slightly increase your traffic totals.  However, Omniture is currently offering a free VISTA rule (think of VISTA rules as a commandment that you can set on Report Suites) to completely block this traffic from your data.  Of course, this free VISTA rule is only temporary.

Webtrends:

Unfortunately, Webtrends hasn’t put anything official into the blogosphere about how their product handles this new bot.  So I decided to do a bit of my own research:

Webtrends generally breaks Spider data out of all reports except for the Site Design > Browsers and Systems > Spiders report.  I checked in on a client’s Spiders report and did not see anything Google-related except for the standard googlebot (which is what crawls through sites in order to organically categorize them), but this does not run scripts, so we won’t have to worry about it increasing our traffic.

I then checked the Browsers by Version report (since the User-Agent reports the Google Instant bot as Safari 3.1) and did not see this browser listed.  Hmm.  The only other place I could imagine this data would be segmented is in the Spiders report under “Other Spiders”.  Since I don’t have anything official here, I’ll be reaching out to Webtrends for confirmation that this is where the data is.  And if it lives elsewhere, how to build a Visit Filter to remove it from our Profiles.

Unica NetInsight / Coremetrics:

Unfortunately neither of these tools have officially commented on the Google Preview bot.

If you have any additional questions on how this affects your reporting, feel free to add them in the comments and I’ll do my best to pull together an answer.

Related posts:

  1. Top 6 Best Practices for Google Instant Previews
  2. Google Instant Previews Is Live - Now Search Visually
  3. Google Instant Preview for Adwords Ads
  4. Google Analytics Notes: Firefox Add On
  5. SEO Keyword Research: 5 Ways To Mine Google Analytics For SEO Opportunities

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