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Google search or analytics is broken

     
6:36 pm on Sep 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I run a big, well known beauty website and naturally the top search terms are all beauty related.

Today, I logged in to analytics as I do every day, and found the following in our top search terms:

(famous actress name)
(reality tv personality)
(news story)
(famous food brand)
(reality tv show)
note: keywords were generalized to avoid mentioning specifics

Huge crazy moment. From my location, I cannot find the website ranking for any of those terms even when I do a site search.

Any ideas? Is analytics currently having problems? All of my other websites are reporting normally though.

Thanks in advance! I am a little panicked.

[edited by: goodroi at 8:36 pm (utc) on Sep 27, 2013]
[edit reason] Generalized keywords [/edit]

9:53 pm on Sept 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

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<conjecture>

Perhaps Google is semantically relating the various news stories and show business topics/personalities you're seeing to beauty and beauty products. It's a stretch, but I can imagine a relationship.

Guessing further... following the loss of literal referrer data... this might be a clue to how Google will be looking at relevance in the future. Might even be a clue to what your audience also looks at. It's consistent with some other thoughts I've had about where the algo might be going.

</end conjecture>
12:14 am on Sept 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Have you had many visits through these search terms?

I am just wondering if these kind of keywords were always somewhere there, but previously "hidden" by analytics listing more significant keywords (by number of visits).

And now with most searches being "Not provided" the ones that float up in the analytics report could put you on a completely wrong track on what your site ranks for. For all that you know, you might have been on the page 30 for these search terms, but if most other keywords are "not provided", the ones that do come through may appear more significant than they are.
12:54 am on Sept 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Check the URIs that Analytics reports as ranking for those keywords. That should give you a clue. I ran into a similar situation recently when my GA JavaScript accidentally "migrated" to a former client's website (had to have been my fault at some point). Fortunately, I recognized both the keywords and the URI's, and got the issue resolved. My point is, someone might have copied code from your site or accidentally duplicated your account number.
8:49 am on Sept 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I filter analytics in several ways.

One profile shows all visits, unfiltered.

Another profile shows only visits to the actual hostname and without staff members counted (they visit the site through a passworded page that sets a "is_staff" cookie.

Another profile shows only staff visits (just to show that the numbers add up).

The final profile shows only visits to hostnames other than the real one. This gives a quick and simple alert that code or pages have been copied.

The dev version of the site is behind a htpasswd password and suppresses generation of the analytics code using a simple hostname test in the PHP.
12:11 pm on Sept 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Just an update.

Yesterday these random keywords were in the hundreds each. ALL traffic for the randomness entered via the homepage.

Even searching the millions of posts on the forum section, there were no threads about these random keywords.

Today, these keywords are nowhere to be seen. Not even in the top 100.

I'm still none the wiser. I was hoping some of you had also experienced these weirdisms yesterday.
12:16 am on Sept 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Is it possible that some entity scraped some of your content and inadvertently grabbed your Analytics code? That's what I'd look for first.