Intrigue from Stevenson Ranch: A Direct Traffic Mystery in Google Analytics

The Mystery

When completing monthly SEO reports for clients on ongoing retainers, one of my usual points of review is the traffic location information, sorted by city. For a  February report for a Canadian personal injury firm, I noticed that one particular client received a relatively large amount of direct traffic from a place called Stevenson Ranch. It appears to be a community just outside of Los Angeles. Because this traffic (with a bounce rate of 100% and avg time on site of 0:00) represented about 10% of all traffic to the firm’s site, the rest of the analytics are skewed accordingly. While I can create a filter in Google Analytics to exclude this traffic, I would prefer to solve the mystery because it may have negative consequences for SEO or website security.

The Clues

  • Many sites appear to be having this same problem, with about 100-200 hits to each site.
  • The traffic is direct and is not referral spam.
  • All visits come via a Safari browser.
  • All visits are from a Linux computer.
  • All visits come from the following host: 

The Candlestick, The Library, and Colonel Mustard (Mystery Resolved)

Despite my best efforts, this mystery has been solved elswewhere. You can find a very detailed description of the problem and resolution on Jhet Bhlak’s blog. An even more detailed overview can be found at Bluetack Internet Security Forums. Because I try not to wade into flame wars, I’ll leave it at that. For my part, I’ll just setup the filters in Google Analytics.


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