Or to put it differently, when your metrics lie to you: how to find out, and what should you do?
The purpose of this article is to let Google aware of the problem, and fix their Google Analytics reports (filtering out the fake traffic). This scheme also impacts many companies computing website rankings. Tons of websites now have their traffic stats wrong, and should consider using home-made solutions, to filter out fake traffic undetected by vendors.
I used just a tiny bit of data science and tiny data (from Google Analytics real time stats - number of users, top locations, pages visited) to unearth the following:
The following is an updated analysis as of October 22. 2014 at 11 pm PST, as the pattern has evolved since yesterday.
Here's the fingerprint, to detect this bogus traffic:
Evidently, these patterns will change over time.
What are they trying to achieve?
It could be
The scheme is (for now at least) extremely easy to detect. It will take a few days (my guess: less than one week, let's see) before Google and other companies find a fix.
Potential improvements for Google Analytics