Has Google Analytics Gone Bad?

A few weeks ago I moved the Rain City Guide servers over to new servers.  Starting a few days before I moved the site over, I noticed a drop in the amount of traffic that coming to RCG as measured by Google Analytics:

Total Traffic to Rain City Guide

The fact that it started a few days beforehand didn’t really surprise me since I had been having trouble with the host (hence the move!).

However, the huge drop that Google Analytics shows is almost entirely from a drop in search engine (think: Google) traffic: Search Engine Traffic to Rain City Guide

It’s not pretty, but I figured it was a reality and just part of the consequences of moving the site from one server to another and I figured Google would hopefully start sending lots search traffic again over time.  But here’s where it gets weird.

The ONLY indication I have that our search traffic has decreased is Google Analytics… All other indications are that the traffic is just about the same.

For example, Quantcast total daily visits from the same time frame (which, just like Google Analytics, uses a bit of javascript I installed in the footer of the site):

Quantcast Daily Visits to Rain City Guide

Diving deeper into the search terms I can see that for terms we used to rank really well for, like [moving to Seattle], Google Analytics said we dropped to only one person visiting us from that search term yesterday:

Moving to Seattle search term on Rain City Guide

But, I simply can’t believe that for two reasons:

  1. The Rain City Guide post on Moving to Seattle is STILL the #1 result on Google for the term
  2. WP-Stats (also using a bit of Java-script in the footer) says we got 32 views from that term yesterday which is a bit low, but closer to what I’d expect by showing up #1 under that particular term in google:

WP-Stat Top Terms

For those wondering, I didn’t touch the Google Analytics code when I moved servers. Nor did I install any caching or other plugins that would be related to this in any way that I can think of…

And finally, just to show you that the issue really is only related to search engine traffic, both the direct traffic and referring traffic have remained pretty consistent throughout this time period:

Direct Traffic to Rain City Guide

Referring Traffic to Rain City Guide

So finally…

My questions for the 4realz community:

  • What is going on with Google Analytics?   Is it busted?  Any ideas on why it would only be picking up a small portion of the search terms that come to Rain City Guide?
  • Or maybe you’d argue that RCG’s google search traffic really did drop off heavily…  But then wouldn’t you have expected us to stop ranking well in the usual phrases [agent recommendations], [Seattle real estate blog], etc.?


After only 14 hours or so of a fix (thanks to an idea I had inspired by a comment below), the search engine traffic on RCG as measured by GA has had a nice bump: Updated Search Engine Traffic on Rain City Guide

(Notice the jump at the right of the chart… That’s today’s traffic from search engines)

At least for one of the WordPress blogs that I run, all evidence points to the fact that the existing tracking code went bust at some point in mid-May!   Obviously, if you’re also noticing that GA is measuring a drop in search engine traffic, as some others have mentioned in the comments, then try upgarding to the latest javascript code.

5 Reasons Microsoft Search Still Sucks

All the talk about Yahoo, Microsoft, and Google reminded me that I hadn’t checked to see if Microsoft has made any improvement to their search results in quite a while…

I know one term doesn’t make a rule, but I’ve found the term [Seattle Real Estate Blog] to be great for testing out the search engines over the years. Over the past three years, Google has always delivered relevant results for the term, while it used to be full of spam for both Yahoo and Microsoft. It’s interesting to note that Yahoo has made great strides over the past few years, while Microsoft is still lost in the dark.

Here’s the top five results by search engine:

Google [Seattle Real Estate Blog]:

  1. Rain City Guide
  2. Seattle RE Prof
  3. Seattle Bubble
  4. Ardell’s Seattle RE blog
  5. Guide to Seattle RE

All of these are great blogs and worthy of being in the top five.

Yahoo [Seattle Real Estate Blog]:

  1. Seattle RE Prof
  2. Redfin Corporate Blog
  3. Rain City Guide
  4. Redfin Sweet Digs
  5. Ardell’s Seattle RE blog

Again, all of these are great blogs worthy of being in the top five for the search results.

MSN Live [Seattle Real Estate Blog]:

  1. “Seattle Real Estate Blog”
    • Spam site that’s been around for years… A few years ago the webmaster got very pissy with me when I told him he had to stop republishing EVERY Rain City Guide article in full on his site. There’s nothing original on the site as it is all republished articles from Seattle blogs and news sources.
  2. seattle-real-estate-blog.com
    • Parked domain with no content
  3. “Real Estate Blogs”
    • Landing page with links to actual blogs. This is the best of the top five results, but still not a Seattle real estate blog.
  4. “Seattle Real Estate and Puget Sound Real Estate – A blog”
    • Account suspended by BlueHost. This normally happens when someone is posting spam.
  5. “Real Estate Blog”
    • Takes you to a landing page that says “This blog currently has no posts.”

There results are horrible. Two spam sites, two sites with no content, and one page with a few links. There are some great real estate blogs in Seattle, but Microsoft can’t seem to find them as their search algorithms are still so easily gamed by spammers.

Scoble thinks Microsoft should buy up Facebook and keep it closed to all but their search engine. Personally, I think they’d find a way to screw that up.

UPDATE: NYTs says Microsoft is getting ready to PAY people to use their search. How sad.