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Monday, November 29, 2010

Google Instant Previews Provide Headache for Analytics Users

Posted by @ 5:25 pm

After its launch only one month ago, Google is facing some major issues with Instant Previews.

It seems that the Instant Previews are confusing Google Analytics and other web analytics tracking and it’s a problem which has been reported by many users.

Their concern is that when a searcher starts an instant preview on the Google search results, sometimes, Google does an “on-demand” fetch (i.e. when you place the mouse over the search result on Google and the image preview comes up of the page) and dynamically create an instant preview. A mouse over was being considered as a visit by some analytics tools, including Google Analytics, because Instant Preview was actually visiting the web page in real-time to fetch you the on-demand Instant Preview.

This has left many webmasters confused with a sudden escalation in visits and page views but also an increase in bounce rates and conversion drops.

To help bring calm to webmasters and analytics users, Google’s John Mueller posted this on the Google Analytics help forum:

We’re working on a solution for this, to prevent Google Instant Preview on-demand fetches from executing Analytics JavaScript. I’m not sure about the timeframe, but I’ll drop a note here when I have more to share. Thanks for your patience.

If you are using other website metrics tracking solutions, it might make sense to also filter that user-agent out (the detailed user-agent is listed in the FAQ page).

Google have announced that they have fixed this problem and webmasters will no longer see the visits from Instant Preview in their Analytics account. However, Google will not reprocess the existing data to remove past visits, but is offering users an advanced segment where they can see the visits from Instant Preview in the context of their total traffic. If you wish to clean up your data, Google suggests the method outlined here.

Have you noticed a change in your analytics data as a result of Google Instant Preview?

Courtney Mills Courtney is an online marketing and communications specialist at ineedhits - a leading search engine marketing firm with over 16 years experience. Courtney has been living and breathing online marketing for over 5 years. She specializes in web and communication marketing, while providing news and opinion to online marketing communities.

View Courtney Mills's profile

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