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

Jeremy Hessing-Lewis

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: PeakWebHosting.com. 

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.

Or:

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