TL;DR: OK, maybe it wasn’t a lie, but organic traffic levels were most likely wrong in a significant amount of marketing reports in August ‘22.
Czechia & Seychelles Traffic crept into our organic channels in recent months’ reports. If you weren’t one of the few that jumped ahead of it, created a filter or removed the data, you may have grossly inflated your true organic visits.
Seychelles and Czechia Organic Traffic & Google Analytics
Digital marketing has something known as “reporting season,” and it comes after the first of every month. Marketers from all over the world, from junior to senior levels scramble to stand up metrics quickly and arm teams with informed decisions based on key data points.
One of those key data points is total traffic from organic. We, at LOCOMOTIVE, take a lot of pride in our reporting and not just dashboards, but overall accuracy which is why we felt the need to expand on a dataset creeping into Google Analytics recently.
People in Seychelles and Czechia searching Google right now. pic.twitter.com/8agGOMmRvi— jroakes.ipynb (@jroakes) August 31, 2022
Seychelles and Czechia SPIKE in Organic
Although there have been other reports of organic traffic from Seychelles and Czechiais, there hasn’t been an answer from Google on how to workaround the poor quality traffic. What’s more, there is no real answer as to why this traffic is showing up in our Analytics accounts.
The example below shows the extent of traffic bloating organic metrics, as it takes deep analysis to identify organic traffic’s true value. Typically, we look at destination pages, queries from search console, and engagement metrics. In the example above, being on alert for traffic spikes at the country level and what ratio is from organic traffic (in this case, it’s easy to tell as it’s 100%) could have been an easy way to catch.
We recommend country level filters for a quick workaround, and to stay on high alert for this (most likely spam/scraping) tactic to continue.
Ideally, all data would be the same. This would allow for less friction on data cleanup and reporting. To make matters worse, Google Search Console is not showing the same results as Google Universal Analytics on organic search traffic from the countries of Sychelles and Czechia.
Google Search Console missing 92% Seychelles GA Universal Traffic
Seychelles and Czechia Google Analytics Filter
Whether you choose to block known spam sources at the server level (or CDN), it’s always helpful to fine tune exclusion filters in GA too.
These types of issues with data cleanliness have presented themselves to Google Analytics users before, but seeing it as organic traffic is not as common as referral spam.
Working Through Irrelevant Data
One important takeaway from the Seychelles and Czechia August spam is the issue seems to be resolved. We could not find any similar data outside of August.
thousands of new users and double digit percentage points
No single Google tool is reported on the poor traffic equally. As the two examples above show, different total numbers are showing across for Seychelles:
- Google Search Console: 375 clicks
- Google Universal Analytics: 4,779 users
- GA4: 0
This makes one wonder, does GA4 have better built-in filters and rules for anomalies? We were not able to replicate finding the country-specific organic spam in GA 4 accounts. However, in time, we are sure users will find ways to utilize the massive customer base of Google Analytics to continue spamming. Meaning, marketers must always be on their toes.
Insights on deviations can be utilized to better trigger data sets for further analysis. Internal alerts can be set up at the server letter and within Analytical platforms as well. There are also companies (over 3 million!) going to third party analytic platforms like Matomo open source analytics.
Reporting with Integrity
Well, ok, you didn’t lie, but if you didn’t exclude this traffic over Aug and Sept, it is likely you grossly overreported organic traffic.
Make sure reports are stood up and analyzed with ample time to isolate out any anomalies, because as seesaw with Seychelles and Czechia organic spikes, they can be hard to isolate out even with an evolved reporting process.
- Trust your data from each source
- Trust your analytical software
- Ensure your teams and agencies stay current with industry happenings
- Set aside time to review!
- If a workaround is required; ensure it’s customized to your needs.
Stay on your toes and ensure you communicate across teams to make exclusion rules quickly and effectively across marketing and technology stacks. If all else fails, reach out to us at LOCOMOTIVE!