Nerd Post: Bots Defeat Google Analytics

This isn’t directly related to writing, but it’s important if you run a website for your books (Looking at you, George R. R. Martin). This is a nerd post to talk about a source of frustration for me, and I imagine many other small-scale website owners: Bots defeat Google Analytics.

Anyone in the ‘writing for fun and profit‘ space will tell you that audience building is a key part of the game. You must get eyeballs and then get them to become interested in whatever it is that you’re offering. For me, it’s science fiction, but for you it could be antique cigarette lighters, bespoke suits, or Dukes of Hazzard TV trays. Who knows?

One of your key performance indicators (KPI) will always be web traffic. Like millions of other sites, I use Google Analytics. Every once in a while, I’ll fire up my GA tool to see what’s going on and I’ll find a table that looks like this:

Now let’s talk about what this table means, and what it’s supposed to tell me about my web page.

At first, I was like: ‘cool, 50 people a day coming to check out my stuff!’ But then when I drilled into the ‘Referrals’ section of Google Analytics, I came to the sad conclusion that my traffic was nothing more than a scam by pay-for-traffic websites:

So that sucks. Pay-for-traffic is a thing, but I can’t imagine who they think this impresses. Sure, it might fool Google ranking for a while, but then what? Honestly, what’s the point of having fake traffic if no one is actually interested in your work? As I noted in this previous post, the main thing is to keep creating.

Lesson learned that audience building doesn’t happen in a straight line, nor is it bad to only have 6-12 visitors a day, as long as they represent real people. Continuing to push forward. I hope you find this information helpful in your own pro creative endeavors.