Google Analytics might have a problem

Rooooxane !Every morning I have a ritual of checking analytics data with my first coffee. That's a nice little, usually relaxing, ritual. Then about two weeks ago I noticed something weird.

I started getting search traffic for term 'bioenergoterapia'.

The weird thing is of course, I never wrote about this topic or anything remotely similar on my site. And still, this keyword seemed to be  sending consistently around 10 searches every day.

search-engine-keyword-google-analytics_1231958828276

If you do a Google search for "bioenergoterapia" you won't see my site anywhere, and even if you type "bioenergoterapia prelovac" you will get zero results.

So how come I am getting 10 visitors a day from Google then?

My first idea was I got hacked and someone injected malicious code so  I checked but this time everything was clear.

I then checked the origin of users from Analytics, and I could see that Google is sending them from Poland. I did another search this time on google.pl but again my site was nowhere to be found.

What if... ?

So, what if someone was using my Google Analytics code on their site? I thought this was impossible because when you register a site for Google Analytics you need to type the site URL and surely this protects your code.

I made a search on google.pl again found a  site called psychoenergoterapia.pl. The site is using my theme, nothing wrong with that, but for some unknown reason they also decided to copy and paste the contents of my site footer, including the Google Analytics code.

And clearly it was working just fine in this alien environment.

And what IF...?

While this case is benign in nature and gave me something to play with every morning, there might be cases when this can go even beyond a practical joke (do that to your friend who just opened a site ...).

The case basically proves that it is possible to dramatically skew somebodies analytics data and potentially make huge damage to them. Who are them? Companies paying a lot of money for adwords and conversion campaigns for example...

Now, psychoergoterapia.pl, will you please remove my code from your footer? Thanks.


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13 Comments

  1. May 12th, 2010

    Hi There,
    I've been having the same problem for a lot of time and just figure out what was happening. Apparently someone copied the html code that holds my site and didn't erased the google tracker code. I came up to this conclusion by finally searching the strange results that anaylitics was giving me. The sites that I came across had the same tracker number from my site so I assumed the just copied the whole thing. Google doesn't have a particular way of dealing with this problem as far as I know. What did I do?, just started contacting a long list of people that did this.
    Hope this helps.

  2. Feb 2nd, 2010

    Hi, I found this immediately when I typed no more than "analytics". And yes, you are damn right, google analytics has a big bug! Probably it's many different ones as your texts suggest.
    My case:
    I had 3 different websites nicely tracked under one account.
    What happened today?
    Suddenly ALL information, all reports, everything was overwritten by a new profile "saas.us" or something!
    I cannot possibly figure out how someone else can "use" my google account! And I have the same amount of anger when I am then (for the second time) trying for over an hour ... and NOWHERE you can find a phone number, a fax number, an EMAIL address or ANYTHING HUMAN to contact Google!

    The biggest internet company in the world - and they can't offer ANY medium of customer service whatsoever? What a shame!

    I am a big fan and supporter of Google, but I anticipate already its demise (I am always ahead of times), because with this sort of anti-service sooner or later customers will say "Good bye, I've found someone else - human".

    Kind regards

    David Bennett

  3. Saya
    Jul 30th, 2009

    Hi!

    I encountered a strange thing on my website.
    When I browse my site this morning, there's a semi-transparent white layer floating on my page. the height of the layer is about 800 pixels.

    I can still see my page thru' the layer, but I cannot click any hyperlink on the portion of my page which is beneath the layer.

    Finally I found out that the layer are "produced" by google analytics. I commented-out the google analytic script on my page, and all are normal now.

    I wonder whether anyone else got this also.
    What's the problem with the google analytics? Anyone can give me idea?
    Thanks.

  4. Charlie
    Jul 29th, 2009

    I am having this problem too. The site hasn't stolen any of my code but they are using the same GA code. I didn't think it was possible but there must be some kind of bug in Google Analytics.

  5. Ethan
    Mar 6th, 2009

    I finally found a lead for the reason Google sent me a nasty email about removing my site from their index. The state "We detected cloaking on your site and suspect this is the cause." As mentioned here *none* of the words are listed in my site. Thanks for blogging about this and give me a lead.

  6. Jan 19th, 2009

    hi

    sounds like this one from Australia (not Austria)
    http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum-replies.cfm?t=1124702

    D

  7. Jan 18th, 2009

    It is quite amusing :)

  8. Jan 17th, 2009

    There is no better thing than sipping hot coffee in the morning and browsing through you visitors log... :)

    • Jun 18th, 2010

      Thats called anaytics addiction :-) but i love it!

  9. Jan 14th, 2009

    even here in Poland we've got some strange cases like this one : ) perhaps they don't realy know a lot about analytics and wordpress or so but they wanted to have own website so they decided to take your theme with all You've got in footer.

    But it's strange that Analytics count their stats into Your account even if they have Your code on their website. I remember my similar case when I had the same GA code in polish site and american one and it counted stats only for the polish site (polish website was the oryginal to which code was assigned) and american traffic wasn't shown in my Analytics. I thought that code is assigned only to one site and it count traffic only from it even if you put code into antoher website it shouldn't count it.

  10. Jan 14th, 2009

    Once I found the problem, yes I can find ways around it. My concern is that someone might be doing this on purpose.

  11. Jan 14th, 2009

    Hi Vladimir,

    This is a (potential) common problem to all tagging-based web analytics tools. However, in my experience it very rarely happens.

    I used to work for two web tracking companies and I can only remember one case of "stolen content".

    You would think that someone "stealing" elements of your site would be wise enough to remove the tracking code. But I guess in this case they are not very technical so probably didn't know what they are doing.

    As suggested by Rarst you should be able to filter it out.

    Cheers,
    Michael

  12. Jan 14th, 2009

    I am not sure but I think it would be possible to construct filter in GA that will limit results to traffic on specific URL. Needs testing.