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Is Your Google Analytics Code "Stolen"?

By hagrin - Posted on 31 August 2006

I came across an interesting article today that mentioned how Google does not check the domain the Analytic code is being loaded from when being accessed. What problem does this cause? Well, you could see inflated traffic numbers, but in actuality, visitors are viewing content on other people's domains. This could cause your ad campaign numbers to be misguided, potential buyers of websites to be duped and a host of other problems. In addition, in the age of the "scraper" site, scrapers that copy all of your code could be inflating your traffic numbers as well. So, how does one verify where the Analytic code is being pulled from?

First, load up your Analytic statistics page and then choose "Content Optimization" - > "Web Design Parameters" - > "Hostnames". This will give you a graph that looks like the following:

Analytic Info on Hostnames

From the image, you'll see that 99% of my traffic does in fact come from the domain. Good so far. However, we see a few IP addresses underneath that also show as having generated traffic with my Analytic code embedded on pages on their IP addresses. Someone's stealing my traffic! Well, maybe not. On further inspection, an IP WHOIS shows that those IP addresses are owned by Google meaning that this traffic was generated through their cache system. Therefore, we can conclude that when Google indexes our site, the Google Crawler copies our Analytic code. Ahh Google, the ultimate scraper site.

So why is this information important? The obvious answer is to protect your original content and the integrity of your Analytic information. Once you identify a scraper domain, you should contact the domain's webmaster and then the host claiming DMCA violations - that usually gets everybody's attention right away.