Are you being misled by your stolen website?

Online Reputation Management, Website Analytics No Comments

Very few companies pay much attention to their website analytics.  We ‘do’ analytics day in and out and what most people call ‘rocket science’ (website analytics) is ‘routine’ to us.    Recently though we had a challenge that was particularly interesting to work on and it was best summarised in one word:

Theft.

The company (Maxim) are the type of company we like – they look at their website analytics and make decisions based on what it tells them.   On this occasion though there was much scratching of Maxim heads, trying to work out why they were getting high numbers of visitors from Vietnam, a snapshot of which you can see in the screenshot below …

That was the view that Google Analytics showed.  However, we compared it to A1WebStats data, which showed no Vietnam visitors at all.

A dilemma: one analytics system showing visitors from Vietnam and another analytics system showing none.  Very strange indeed.

So we dug deeper into the Google Analytics, which showed examples such as the view below, which implied that the website page /tin-tuc/47/Cham-soc-khach-hang had several page views.   That wouldn’t be so unusual if the Maxim website had a page with that name but, call them traditional, but their pages have much more plain English names such as media_relations.

To cut a long story short, we searched for that url in Google and it took us to a Vietnamese website page.  So we tried another url and we found another page, as you can see in the screenshot below …

Now, compare the general style/layout of that page above to the general style/layout of the Maxim page below …

They look pretty similar but the more obvious part comes when you compare the foot of each of those pages …

Different languages and words but the same style/layout.

So what’s happened here then …

What had happened was that the Vietnamese company had blatantly stolen the format and style of the Maxim website and plonked their content into it.

Stupidly, they neglected to take out the Google Analytics code, which meant that visits to their pages were showing up in the Maxim Google Analytics reports (and also explained why A1WebStats wasn’t recording the visits, because it hadn’t been installed on the Maxim website at the time of the design theft).

The offending website has now been taken down and Maxim now have ‘proper’ data to analyse in their analytics.

And that’s  the point of this blog – you never know what website analytics will help you uncover about your website.   In the case of Maxim it meant that website visitor figures were artificially inflated (by visits to the Vietnamese copy website), which made it difficult to properly assess what contribution the website traffic was making.

Website analytics has taken a really long time to become accepted by the majority of businesses (big business has been doing it for years) and it’s going to take a lot longer before it becomes common practice.  Companies like Maxim are a breath of fresh air because they are looking at what their website data is telling them so that they can make informed decisions.   And in the future, it’ll be those companies who are proactive about such things who will be the winners while the ‘heads in the sand’ companies will start to go into decline.

And if you’ve got a website analytics question that’s puzzling you then please do send it our way – we love a challenge!