28 May 2012

Remove Blogger post preview traffic from Google Analytics

Even though offers traffic stats in the default dashboard, the numbers are often inaccurate, being inflated by referrer spam. I have seen traffic spikes on a couple occasions that aren’t reproducible in other traffic tracking solutions like Analytics or the stats offered by link shortening services. Usually Google Analytics is more reliable, since it’s using a script after the page has actually loaded to track the visits, and it’s also integrated in the Blogger dashboard. It does have it’s downsides, one of which is the very complicated procedure to exclude your own traffic from the stats – a method which incidentally isn’t very reliable, in my experience.

Another inconsistency in the stats from Google Analytics I noticed recently is the fact that it also tracks the previews of your Blogger posts before publishing. In a way it makes sense, since the preview is now a full-fledged page with script support, located on the same domain as the site/blog. You can see the amount of visits to the post previews in the Google Analytics dashboard under ‘Content’ ► ‘Site Content’ ► ‘Content Drilldown’ ► select the ‘Page path level/b/. The amount of virtual visits on preview pages should be relatively small (in my case 1.14% over half the previous month) and, depending on the total number of visits, should have a negligible overall impact on the traffic data. On the other hand, these self-visits are registered under ‘returning visitors’ and generate a low bounce rate; this could skew important metrics in the long run.

Fortunately there is an easy way to filter out there false hits directly in Google Analytics by adding a filter. Go to the ‘Admin’ section in the top orange bar, under ‘Profiles’ ► ‘Filters’, click ‘New Filter’, choose ‘Predefined filter’, then in the following drop-downs choose ‘Exclude’, ‘traffic to the subdirectories’, ‘that contain’ and finally fill in the subdirectory /b/ for the post previews. Google Analytics filter set-up to exclude Blogger post preview

I have enabled this filter about two weeks ago and, as you can see in the image below, Google Analytics stopped recording my traffic to post previews immediately. It would be nice if the filter could be applied retroactively to the entire database, that would yield better stats over the lifetime of the blog, but I’m not sure if there is a way to do that. Google Analytics exclude Blogger post preview stats

3 comments:

  1. Useful post. I am having problems though. I am entering details exactly as above to exclude the preview directory /b/ but I am getting this error message:
    One or more fields contain invalid data. Please fix and submit again.

    Any ideas how I might get around this? Thanks.

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    Replies
    1. Hmm, unfortunately no... I tried changing the parameters just now and Analytics basically accepts everything I type in there. The only error I see is when I delete the filter name, but that is clearly labeled and displayed just under the 'Filter name' field.

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    2. Thanks for checking this. It's very frustrating because I have preview pages with over 10minutes 'Av.Time on page' but with 100% bounce rate.

      Any suggestions welcome. Thanks.

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