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timeforcake: Are you skewing your own website’s statistics?

Erin Pheil
special to the daily

Leaning back in my chair I thought, “Hmmm. Something is definitely not right here.” I quickly skimmed through our client’s monthly website statistics report again, in case I’d misread the numbers. But no, something definitely wasn’t right. The stats showed a suspicious (obviously inflated) number of repeat visits happening at suspiciously similar times.

Fast forward two minutes. A small bit of detective work quickly determined that a large number of our client’s employees had recently set their organization’ homepage to be their homepage. This means each time any employee fired up his Web browser, the stats program counted the visit, ultimately contaminating their website’s statistics. Thus, their monthly stats report overview failed to accurately portray how “real” visitors had been using their website.

By tracking internal/employee visits (and the visits of regularly visiting webmasters!) businesses, government offices and organizations often unknowingly collect visitor data that can decrease the clarity and usefulness of their stats reports. And so I ask: Are you, too, tracking your (and your employees) visits to your own website? If you’ve never taken an action to prevent your own tracking, you’ll likely need to answer Yes.

If you use Google Analytics as your website’s stats program, a quick-and-easy way to block visits – from your home computer, office computer, etc. – is by telling Google to exclude all visits from a specific IP address. (Even if you don’t know what an IP address is, this will be easy.) Here’s all you need to do:

1. First, determine your IP address by visiting this page and looking at the big numbers displayed at the top: http://www.WhatIsMyIP.com.

2. Log in to your Google Analytics account.

3. Click the “Edit” link located at the far right in the row that lists your website name.

4. In the Filters Applied to Profile area, click “Add Filter” on the far right.

5. Give your filter a name. (Example: Block Home Visits)

6. Next, change the center drop-down box from “traffic from the domains” to “traffic from the IP address”

7. Enter your IP address in the boxes below.

8. Hit Save Changes.

9. Repeat for additional IP addresses you’d like to block (for example: your office IP address or your webmaster’s/Web company’s IP address).

This is a simple solution that anyone with access to their Google Analytics account can implement. Keep in mind, however, that although this solution may satisfactorily address skewed data issues of very small businesses, blocking visits by IP address alone is far from comprehensive. For example, the technique doesn’t address the issue of dynamic IP addresses.

If you’d like to consider more extensive or detailed visitor blocking, take some time to Google around and explore your options or, preferably, ask your webmaster/Web company what solution would be most effective for you.

erin pheil is the owner of timeforcake creative media – the Web design company voted #1 Best of Summit. Take a look at the timeforcake website at http://www.timeforcake.com or email her at erin@timeforcake.com.


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