Spikes in Analytics? Google and Bing Updates Confuse Webmasters

 
 

In the past week we have seen our share of alarming questions in the SEO forums asking about the recent changes in Google Analytics on the 11th and the bug fix on the 16th. That discussion was soon followed by the Bing webmaster tools adoption of the Yahoo data, which followed up with more spikes in our traffic and also changes with the CTR.

Unlike Google Analytics change, what Bing did was simply adopt the data from Yahoo[1], so the spike you see in your Bing webmaster tools is simply due to the combined data of both Bing and Yahoo, so your impressions and clicks are probably up, and probably your CTR as well. This Bing move is a good one, Yahoo already announced earlier that they will be shutting down Yahoo webmaster tools. We can only hope that Bing Webmaster tools will soon follow up on their update and allows us to separate the data from Bing and Yahoo and compare them.

combined bing yahoo traffic

spike when Bing implemented Yahoo data into their report

On the other hand Google Analytics made a different type of change, they changed the definition of the session[2]. It may appear that the change was not that big, but for most of the sites we have seen the changes show more traffic coming to the site, which may seem like something went great, but in reality it is just the session defining change which shows returning visitors from different sources as new visitors.

google analyitcs traffic spike

after constant average of 2,500 visitors per day the graph rises to 3,500 and over 4,000 a day on the 11th August

Their new session definition:

-          There is more than 30 minutes between pageviews

-          At the end of each day

-          When the traffic sources changes for the user – utm_source, utm_medium, utm_term, utm_content, utm_id, utm_campaign, and gclid

So starting 11th August 2011 there is probably a change in your analytics data, and maybe even a slight change after the 16th, the historical data we have will remain the same.

References:

1. Announcing the integration of Yahoo traffic data into Bing Webmaster Tools reports – http://www.bing.com/community/site_blogs/b/webmaster/archive/2011/08/16/announcing-the-integration-of-yahoo-traffic-data-into-bing-webmaster-tools-reports.aspx

2. Updates to Sessions in Google Analytics – http://analytics.blogspot.com/2011/08/update-to-sessions-in-google-analytics.html

Zac is a link building specialist and a seasoned SEO professional. He manages a team of link builders and actively promotes some of Australia's biggest brands. Zac is an active blogger and also maintains Dejan SEO's news and updates section.

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