Google Analytics Hacks: How to Identify Fake Visitors in Your Google Analytics Account

Targeted Web Traffic
6 min readAug 22, 2022

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Google Analytics is a powerful tool, but it isn’t perfect. Often, the data in your Google Analytics account is compromised by malicious individuals who want to trick website owners into believing their visitors aren’t as fake as they appear. Even with Google’s built-in safeguards against such activity, hackers are still able to pose as digital ghost visitors and send them to your site.

When you think about it, Google Analytics has all of the makings of a hacker paradise. After all, its purpose is to provide website owners with detailed insights about how their site visitors are interacting with their content and how often they’re returning as repeat visitors. It’s not surprising that cyber criminals would take advantage of this knowledge for their own nefarious purposes.

How to Identify Fake Users in Your Google Analytics Account

The first step to identifying fake users in your Google Analytics account is to study how real users interact with your site. This means paying attention to how they navigate through your site’s menus, where they stop reading, and how they exit your site.

Focus especially on those who visit your site once and never come back. This way, you can start to identify the “behaviors” of real people who visit your site. Once you know what a real visitor looks like, you can start to identify the fake ones.

When You Know Your Data is Accurate: Real People, Real Behaviors

If you know your data is accurate, you can begin to identify fake users by paying attention to how they behave on your site. If you notice lots of them visiting your site from unusual locations or using strange devices, their behavior may be fishy.

You can also look for fake users by examining their exit pages. If you notice a large number of your site visitors exiting your site through a particular page, such as your site’s “Contact Us” page, it may be an indication that Google Analytics has been hacked.

When You Know Your Data is Compromised: Fake People, Real Behaviors

If you know your data is compromised, you can start to identify fake users by examining their navigation paths. Eliminate “dead ends” on your site, such as pages that go nowhere but exist solely to provide content. These dead ends are a key part of the fake user navigation system.

If you know your data is compromised and you know the fake users are real people, you can identify them by looking at their “navigation paths.” You can examine the pages they’re navigating to, along with the order they’re navigating to them in. For example, if a large number of your site visitors are navigating directly to your Contact Us page, it could be an indication that Google Analytics has been hacked.

When You’re Unsure: Real People, Unknown Behaviors

If you’re unsure whether the data in your Google Analytics account is real or fake, you’ve probably been the victim of fake users masquerading as real people. You can identify these fake users by looking for two types of behavior's.

First, examine how long your site visitors are staying on your site. If it’s abnormally short, you may be dealing with fake users. Second, look for unusual navigation patterns. If you notice a high number of your site visitors navigating to a specific part of your site without engaging with the rest of your content, Google Analytics may have been compromised.

How to Identify Fake Google Analytics Visitors

There are many different ways someone can manipulate your Google Analytics data to make their fake data appear more legitimate. Here are some of the most common methods before to buy website traffic:

  • Publishing Content for the Purpose of Tracking Fake Users

One of the most common ways to track fake users through Google Analytics is through the use of “goals.”

  • Goals are special pages on your site that are designed to direct your site visitors to complete a desired action.
  • Google Analytics counts these goals as page views, so if you want to track your site visitors, you can create a page with a goal and track their progress through that page.
  • When you create a page with a goal, you can select from a list of pre-made goal types.
  • One of the most common goal types is the “page view” goal.
  • Faking User Activity Through Browser Extensions

One of the most common ways to fake your Google Analytics data is through the use of browser extensions.

  • Some people create fake browser extensions that prompt your site visitors to click on your site’s menu items or fake page views in order to lift your site’s analytics data.
  • Fortunately, Google has started to crack down on fake browser extensions, so if you see a sudden spike in page views or menu clicks, it could be a sign that your data has been compromised.
  • When Google Analytics is Hacked: Dark visitors and Ghost Behaviors

If someone has hacked your Google Analytics account, you may notice anomalies in your reporting that indicate your data has been compromised.

  • One of the most common anomalies you may notice is a sudden spike in your “dark traffic” numbers.
  • Dark traffic is the term used to describe the portion of your site data that you can’t see. It is often caused by malicious code on your site that interferes with your Google Analytics code.
  • When Google Analytics is hacked, you may also notice that your data has been manipulated to create ghost “navigation paths” and “page views.”
  • Ghost paths are a collection of fake site visitors that are designed to look like real visitors.
  • A ghost path is created when a specific “URL”, or web address, is entered into Google Analytics multiple times.
  • Ghost paths are often used by website owners who want to artificially boost their page views and visitor numbers.
  • When Google Analytics is hacked, you may also notice that your data has been manipulated to create ghost “page views.”
  • A page view is an event that occurs when someone accesses your site’s menu pages or secondary pages.
  • When Google Analytics is hacked, you may see a sudden spike in your page view numbers.
  • A sudden spike in your page view numbers may indicate that someone has hacked your Google Analytics account.
  • When Google Analytics is hacked, you may also notice that your data has been manipulated to create ghost “navigation paths.”
  • Avoiding Fake Google Analytics Data

The best way to avoid fake Google Analytics data is by regularly checking your data for signs of hacking.

  • Start by checking your data for signs of ghosts. If you notice an unusually large number of ghost paths, it could be a sign that your Google Analytics data has been hacked.
  • Next, look for data anomalies. If you notice a sudden spike in your page view numbers or dark traffic, it could be a sign that someone has hacked your Google Analytics account.
  • Finally, check for signs of fake users. If you notice an abnormally high number of page views from a single IP address, it could be a sign that someone has created a fake browser extension that prompts your site visitors to click on your site’s menu items or pages.

When Google Analytics is Hacked: Dark visitors and Ghost Behaviors

If someone has hacked your Google Analytics account, you may notice an increase in your “dark traffic.” Dark traffic is the term used to describe the portion of your site data that you can’t see. It is often caused by malicious code on your site that interferes with your Google Analytics code. When your Google Analytics data is compromised, your dark traffic numbers may spike dramatically.

When Google Analytics is hacked, you may also notice that your data has been manipulated to create ghost “navigation paths.” Ghost paths are a collection of fake site visitors that are designed to look like real visitors. A ghost path is created when a specific “URL”, or web address, is entered into Google Analytics multiple times. Ghost paths are often used by website owners who want to artificially boost their page views and visitor numbers.

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