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Strange traffic - attempt to negatively influence rankings?

4:20 pm on Aug 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

In the last couple of weeks I've noticed on Google Analytics that I'm getting about two dozen visits per day coming through Google with the search term [online widgeting lessons] -- but on every occasion these visitors leave after spending 0:00 minutes on the site. Traffic that comes through the term [widgeting] alone tends to view several pages and stay for, on average, a few minutes.

The bouncing traffic started on July 13 with just four queries, but visits through that three-word term have been building steadily. All of these "visitors" come to the home page only.

The only thing I can think is that this bouncing traffic is someone's attempt to influence my site's rank in Google. Is that a likely explanation? Has anyone here else noticed anything similar?

4:28 pm on Aug 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Sounds like automated traffic of some kind. No telling what some of that traffic is all about. Might this be the kind of "pre-fetch" behavior we're discussing in another thread?

Site registers a hit each time it's in search results - even with no click [webmasterworld.com]

You could check for user-agent and IP address -- and also see whether that page request is followed by requests for related files, such as images, css, favicon, external javascript.

5:39 pm on Aug 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thanks for the link to that discussion. I doubt if it's prefetch because until the sudden rise in that three-word phrase it would only crop up a couple of times a month, followed by a visit that might last for 5 to 15 minutes. Given that my site ranks number 1 for that term and is highly relevant, you'd expect at least some of the people generating a prefetch by Googling that term to visit the site and follow the link on the home page that's most relevant to that term.

Sadly I lack the tech-savvy to check the IP address and user agent. I use Google analytics and also have another stats package that my webhost offers. I wouldn't even know where to look to find the raw logs. But I'll ask my webshost and see what they can tell me.