Online games news Tedious Retro Gamer, 27-07-2021
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Life is full of tough choices and one of the hardest ones to crack is who can you trust? In some cases the answer is pretty simple: no one.
After about 20 years of using different Google services I grew disillusioned that Google understands how Google works, but with each passing year I am more and more convinced that Google just doesn’t work anymore. After many experiments I dropped Google Analytics from most of my websites, because the numbers that I got from them not only did not matched those that I got from my internal statistics, but also they did not matched data that I was receiving from their other services. In my internal statistics if it shows me 100 visitors I know that there were up to 100 visitors (taking under consideration that some of them could have been undetected robots), but I have full record of IP numbers and their activity logs, so I can work out myself which ones are most likely robots.
With Google Analytics in same time range it will show me f.e. 75 visitors and absolutely no explanation what happened with other 25. If not for internal statistics I would not even known that there were 25 extra visits. Perhaps they are right and true number was 75, but there is absolutely no way to confirm that - in my statistics I know exactly what counts as a visitor and what doesn’t, in Analytics I have to trust their algorithm, which I really don’t. Not to mention the total fiasco of organic search being phased out in Analytics - they will tell you how many visitors you have, but they will not tell you from which keywords they entered your website, which is cute. Of course you can link it to Search Console, which itself is far from being perfect tool, so few years back you could have known how people find your website, now they keep that information for themselves.
But that is just me, being petty. After all, as I read somewhere, "Google Analytics is the best tool available to gather data about your visitors". After reading that sentence I just left that website, the expert that wrote that text and me, we were clearly using completely different Analytics. Recently I gave that service the absolute last chance - on last website I left Analytics on I decided to test it again. It is a browser game, so I have full log of activities of my users, which proved to be important bit of information. Since it is middle of summer, the traffic is very light on the website I checked data from few days and, again, it turned out Analytics does not count some of the visits on the website.
I dug dipper and my internal statistics shown 56 visitors on one particular day, but only 38 on Analytics. This wasn’t something new, but when I checked that 48 registered players logged in during that period things started to look quite fishy. I mean we can dispute if something is counted as proper visit or not, but if 48 players log in to their accounts, there is no way you could count them as robots. Well, anyway, I checked some more and discovered something a bit weird, or should I say weirder. I looked into sources of the traffic, there were some direct, some organic visits, but also 1 referral. And next to the one referral visit there was bounce rate at 50%. And I thought to myself, "hmm, that is strange, how 50% of 1 visit could be bounce"? Of course it was just simple mistake, because after few hours it was corrected and bounce rate of that single visit was given as 42,5%.
Well, it is just a simple mistake, no big deal. So I checked other statistics and in geolocation I stumbled upon something interesting. At the top of the list was Russia, 18 visits with 100% bounce rate. That is nothing unusual, Russia, Ukraine and China have a lot of active robots, so I thought I will check if some sort of filter should be activated. When I looked inside all 18 visits were from same oblast (administrative region in Russia), which was a bit odd. It got even weirder when I realized one of the registered players lives in that part of Russia. I checked his activity and he logged into the game in that period of time, what is more he logged over 20 times. I know what you thinking, those crazy Russians, they found the way to fool Analytics into thinking they are robots and stealthily log into the game without being noticed. Either that or Analytics is just full of manure.
But let’s not torment Analytics. I’m not even gonna start about Adwords and Adsense, because life is too short to list everything that is wrong with those services, instead I tried something fresh. I put some money in promoting post on Facebook, just for science, because I know they are just sheer vanity expenditure and have no marketing value. I checked the results after few days, they, of course, were amazing - over 3500 recipients, over 70 interactions with post, over 20 clicks in the link. I checked how does it look like in Analytics and got... 6 referrals from Facebook with 75% bounce rate. No, not again, Analytics. You had one job!
Anyway, after seeing those results I reached a quite disturbing conclusion - at this point which side should I trust? Were there 22 clicks in the link or were there only 6? Hmm, who can I trust? Heartless, backstabbing, evil corporation, or completely different heartless, backstabbing, evil corporation? It makes you think, doesn’t it? I mean Facebook gives me completely no insight into details of those visitors or activity, and it is in their own interest to lie to me about results of this promotion. On the other hand Google has absolutely no interest in lying to me, but they do it anyway for two decades now. But if any of the data they have provided me is not fully correct, then... I can’t trust any other data I could get from those sources.
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