Wednesday, September 07, 2011

The Referer Spam War Leads To Fluctuations In Stats Pageview Counts

One question that we see regularly, in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, comes from worried new blog owners.
Why do my pageview counts go up and down all of the time?
or, less normally
Why have my pageview counts been going down, recently?
In many cases, this is a normal result of (for example) more traffic last week, than this week. This won't always be the cause of the questions, though.

On days when I am more busy posting content in my blog(s), I'll generally see a spike in pageview counts in "Day" view. On days when I am more busy with other activities, I'll frequently see a similar drop in pageview counts in "Day" view. This "spikiness" is more obvious for newer blogs, with less established traffic. Depending upon a number of factors, pageview count spikes will be more obvious in Day, Week, or Month view.

But not everybody is concerned with spikiness in Day, Week, or Month counts.

Some blog owners are observing spikes, or steadily decreasing counts, in "All time" view. But why would "All time" counts decrease? One pageview last year should count for eternity, right?

Besides the issue of spikes caused by normal day to day activity of the blog owners, and blog viewers, there's another factor - referer spam. Both the spammers, and Google, are constantly busy. The spammers produce spam, in ever changing technique and volume. Google detects the spam, and blocks it - generally, some time after each new spam attack starts.

As the various spammers (and if it is not obvious to you, there is more than one single spammer, and more than one single spam technique being used) vary their spamming techniques, the "pageview counts" will go up. As Google detects, identifies, and mitigates each different spam attack, the "pageview counts" will go down.

As Google blocks a spam attack this week, they will identify and remove that attack from the pageview counts for last week, last month, and "all time". And the blog owners see the "All time" counts go down, in turn - and we see more questions in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken.

If you want to see visitor activity demographically and statistically tracked, yet not subject to fluctuations from referer spam, get a third party visitor log / meter, to complement Stats. Most such accessories are free, just as Stats is free.

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3 comments:

Mitshubh said...

Thanks a lot for the article. I was getting worried precisely because of the fluctuating stat counter. This definitely gave me much insight into the real happenings :)

Mirsub Ali Fazlani said...

Was wondering why that happened...

NavzzY said...

hmm...