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    Don't understand why this search string keeps re-appearing in my Analytics report


    About 10 days ago, I searched for this very specific text string: "is more than just snappy uniforms and matching luggage"
    Sure enough, Google returned only a single page result (mine), because it's obviously a very specific text string, and I clicked through to my site from that results page.

    Naturally, drilling down in Organic Search Traffic in GA that day showed the above search string as one that generated a visit to my page. Makes sense so far.

    But here's what seems to make no sense: Nearly every day since then, that same search string shows up in my Organic Search Traffic report. WHY!?? That strings was only searched for once back in early February, so I understand why it would have shown up back then. But now nearly every day GA is apparently telling me that someone is finding their way to my site via that organic search string. There's obviously no way it's anyone else searching for that because of how unique it is. So for some reason -- and this is what I want to understand -- Google is classifying my own visits to my site each day as "organic" (which is itself erroneous) and moreover are attributing them to THAT search string (the one that I used only once 10+ days ago!?) See the screenshot below from today's GA. Why is that search string still showing up 10+ days after the only time it actually led to a visit??

    I have shut down my browser, and restarted my computer several times since then. So why does GA still attributing my own visits to my site to that one search string, even though I only used it 10 days ago, and now just get to my site by typing in my site's URL directly!?

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    Just to clarify. The screen shot in your post - is that from a single day when you did not do the search or the standard 'last 30 days' screen?
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    You shut down the browser, and the computer... have you cleared the cookies and other web data?

    Will it make you feel better if a bunch of us search for that exact phrase? ;-P

    BTW this is why I don't like Google Analytics. If it were something where you owned the data you could whip out the file and find the exact time IP etc. or forge a log file and see what happens.

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    • Test-ok agrees : I don't like GA either. :-)
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    Originally Posted by Doodled
    Just to clarify. The screen shot in your post - is that from a single day when you did not do the search or the standard 'last 30 days' screen?
    Yes, that is correct: that is a screenshot from 2 days ago and was ONLY ONE DAY of data. And, as I wrote, I hadn't run that specific search for at least 10 days (and I only ran it that one day.)

    I've been trying to learn about what's going on, and could it be the case that GA (for whatever reason) will always attribute visits from my browser (even ones in which I just type in the URL directly) to that one organic search string? I was pointed to this google help page: How Visits are calculated in Analytics - Analytics Help

    where it reads:

    Generally speaking, the campaign cookie is updated anytime the visitor arrives at your site via a search engine, referring website, or campaign tagged URL. Direct traffic, however, never updates or replaces an existing campaign source such as a search engine, referring site, or campaign-tagged information.

    So is that what's going on here? Once GA has decided "traffic from that person is organic and attributable to search string XYZ", it will forevermore tag my traffic to that search string, even when I'm just typing in the URL directly? (which is why the string keeps showing up every day in my GA report?)

    I may just have to figure out how to filter my own traffic out of GA reports, but I still want to understand this peculiar behavior...
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    This is just a minor glitch of GA. Like other google's tools you can't trust them.
    Google Analytics it supposed to tell you the truth, but it doesn't. Install other traffic analyzer and you'll see quite difference. Compare results from GA with results reported by your server and you'll see differences. GA is manipulative. It makes you think about "organic search" and some other nonsense.

    I know you didn't get your answer, but if I was in your shoes, I would resign my account of GA and I would go for an alternative. Think about, google knows everything about you website and about your traffic, you know nothing about google. In fact, you tell google to not rank you very well, telling about your customers behavior.
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    Aaah right! Google says you once entered the site after searching that string so if you come back again, even through direct access, it was because of that string so it is counted again. You will always be the visitor who found your site through a bizarre string! At least you know it's you!
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    nice post this help full for us. best of luck.
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    Ok first of... always filter your own computers out to their own profile.
    Keep one profile of ALL traffic. One with your IP addresses filtered out
    and one Including ONLY your IP addresses.

    That way you don't conflate testing with sales data, but you can still see your tests (even if the website picks up lots of traffic) higher end packages often prompt you to do this. It doesn't matter if it is GA or Coremetrics... always seperate out internal traffic (including call centers etc.) their behavior is abnormal and not what you are interested in most of the time. But KEEP the data. Set things up so you can see that data if you get interested in it.

    Now, Google is NOT lying to you (they have lied before but this is not a lie) this is just one of many ways to attribute a visit to an initial source. Different analytics packages do this differently, none of the methods is perfect, though one may be better than another for specific purposes. There are also a few ways to 'trick' some packages into giving you reports in a different way but due to the data processing on the back end this is not always possible or accurate.

    Analytics (GA, Webtrends, Coremetrics, Piwik, whatever) has to identify the following:
    A visitor
    A visit
    A repeat visit
    A purchase
    What to attribute the purchase to

    Visitors are typically identified by cookies. This is not 100% accurate because cookies can be rejected, especially true of non-first party cookies.
    Most packages then fall back on IP address and user agent, and sometimes some other stuff, this tends to be fairly inaccurate. So some packages just ignore these users and treat them as a 'visit' to a page but don't even try to track their flow from page to page.
    Other packages use a session ID in the page URL. Same idea as the cookie but considered sloppy at best and introduces all kinds of errors.

    Now once they identify a visitor and track that that visitor downloaded pages J,F,G,R then stopped downloading pages, they need to determine at some point that the visit is over. Any activity after that point is considered a new visit. Typically a 30min timeout is used. No activity for 30 min... you must have ended your session. Could be you stepped away from your desk.... but as far as the analytics are concerned you left the site. This can be varied and for certain types of sites 30min is not a reasonable number.

    Anyway, then the analytics package sees the same user load page F,O,W the next day. So it says they have 2 visits.

    Now let's say on the second visit the make a purchase. $2. The system knows that on the second visit they came to you directly (typed in your URL, opened a bookmark, still had your site open) but on the first visit they arrived through a google search for 'widgets'

    Someone needs to tell the analytics package how to handle that information.
    Is it true that direct customers purchased $2 from your site? Yes but it is misleading for marketing. The user did not get your web address from their friend over email or something similar... they looked online for widgets, important to know.
    Is it true that people searching for widgets purchased $2 on your site? Yes, but also misleading. They did not search for widgets then purchase right away.

    As you can see this is only further complicated when the user:
    searches for widges
    searches again for bobles
    searches for blue widgets
    visits directly
    then purchases the $2 of stuff.
    searches for bobles
    buys another $3
    comes in direct
    Buys another $1

    Some packages will track both the First campaign, and most recent campaign for a visitor. You can then view the most recent campaign a visitor interacted with (presumable the one that pushed them over the line) or the original source. Some will track the first campaign for a given visit. Giving full credit to whatever the most recent campaign was when a purchase is made.

    This is all a question of judgement as to what is the 'best' way of attributing a sale. Note that NONE of these methods perfectly reflect a customers interaction with multiple campaigns and this is in fact IMPOSSIBLE to accurately determine.

    So google may be using a crappy way of attributing sales, but it is just a choice of how to handle a problem, it is documented, and it isn't a lie.
    The issue is that you can not configure this easily and get other types of more relevant reports.

    Now, you never answered my question, have you tried deleting your cookies and re-visiting the site?

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    • joshz agrees : tl;dr - he's a nice guy who loves to help !

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