How To Identify and Clean Up “Dirty” Website Metrics

Sam Lowe
Posted by Sam Lowe on May 5, 2014
A pair of hands wiping dust off them.

Website data and analytics are vital to your marketing efforts, especially if you’re pursuing an inbound strategy. Bad data can lead to poor marketing decisions down the road, so it’s important to weed out your “dirty” metrics and get everything cleaned up sooner than later. You don’t need to be an analytics or website nerd in order to understand what’s going on; you just need to know what to look for some common errors when it comes to metrics. Keep reading and you’ll be armed with the knowledge you’ll need.

Deceitful Website Traffic

Have you ever launched a new page or section on your website, then instantly saw a huge number of views after checking the metrics? Either you’re an SEO savant, you’re lucky, or you haven’t blocked your company’s IP addresses from your metrics.

You’re not alone if you didn’t know that you could – and should – block your company’s IP addresses from your metrics. Your metrics will be tainted as you and your coworkers browse through the site and create new content.

Each analytics platform is different, but every one I’ve worked with has had the ability to block IP addresses. If you don’t know your IP address then take a look at this tool. Make a list of the addresses and keep it handy.

If you’re not sure if your IP addresses are blocked, there are two ways to check, and both involve logging into your analytics tool. The best way is to take a look at which IP addresses are listed under the “blocked” section of your tool and see if they match up to the list you created.

The other method is to look at your website traffic by location. If your IP addresses aren’t blocked you should see a large amount of traffic coming from your city. The traffic might also be coming from a city near you, since your ISP may be routing traffic through a server in that location.

Off-The-Charts Bounce Rates

We’ve talked about bounce rates before and what they mean for your analytics. A high bounce rate isn’t good for any site and a quick fix isn’t difficult. First, you’ve got to look at your bounce rate across your main pages and see what it’s at; anything above 80% should cause you some concern.

If your bounce rate is up there, it’s time to take a look at your site navigation. People might be getting lost with clunky menus, then leave your site in a fury. Take time to check your links and make sure that they open in a new tab when it makes sense to do so. Your competition is online too, and users aren’t afraid to navigate over to their sites if yours isn’t as good.

Sketchy Referral Traffic

Referral traffic to your site consists of users navigating to your site via a link from another site. Pay attention to who’s linking to your site: links are an important part of your SEO strategy, but not all links are created equal.

Sometimes referral traffic can be a bit odd and throw off other metrics, like overall site traffic and pageviews. The biggest red flag related to referral traffic is when it’s coming from another one of your domains.


A situation like this isn’t as far-fetched or rare as you might think. Separate but similar domains are often used for blogs, dealer, supplier, or main homepages for large/complex companies with many business units or divisions.

Referral traffic could indeed be coming from within your own site; this is unavoidable in the situations as outlined above. The best way to clean this up is to set up custom reports that outline exactly how much “traffic” is coming from your own site referrals. Unless you can keep traffic from certain sources off your reports, you’ll have to reference these custom reports and manually calculate some of your other metrics.

Terrible Traffic Rank

One day your site is ranked around 200,000 for traffic rank and the next day it falls to 1.5 million. It might feel like your virtual walls are crumbling all around you, but they’re not. Your site is most likely totally fine and you don’t have anything to worry about.

Traffic rank is a relative metric that’s not all that accurate to begin with. Alexa is a popular service for providing information on traffic ranks and even they say that the ranking is statistically insignificant if you’re ranked beyond 100,000.

Unfortunately this is a metric that’s relied upon too often to prove that your online efforts have paid off. You can’t fix a “broken” metric but you can explain to your team why the metric is so jumpy. Boiled down to the basics, traffic rank jumps around because it’s relative to ALL other sites on the internet and data to compile reports isn’t readily available.

Remember, It’s All Intertwined

Those are some of the hard-hitting website metrics that might contain errors. There’s a large cause and effect relationship with your metrics that you must keep in mind. If something is off in one spot, it’s most likely off in another as well. Make a note of anything fishy, address it before anything gets out of hand and you’ll be a much happier marketer!

SEO Survival Guide From Weidert Group


Topics: Search Engine Optimization, Marketing Automation

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