Google Analytics is broken (like PageRank is broken), and leaking my data into the index. All the site searches here on SEO ROI are resulting in site-SERPs pages getting into G’s index. How is this happening?
Final Update: This has been disproven as being the source of the site-search-results appearing in Google’s search results. I had good reason to believe that Google Analytics was the source of this (you can see below for my original thoughts on the matter), but there’s now a clarification. My apologies to Google and to my readers for the mistake.
A while back I saw a video about using Google Analytics to track what searches people perform on your site (note: the video seems to be gone, but you can read Avinash’s explanation on how to set up the site search tracking). It seemed like something worth tracking, in order to find out what I might write to meet my visitors need, and perhaps get some keyword research too. So I set it up.
I forgot about the whole thing until I did a site: search on SEO ROI in order to do some research on how the big G was liking my pages. Well lookee here! SEO ROI Site SERPs in Google site: SERPs!
Naturally, I wanted to see whether this was just affecting me. Guess what? Brian Chappell set up the tracking too, and here’s what a site search on brianchappell.com turns up:
Google Analytics Leaking Brian Chappell’s site search results.
While if I were a blackhat this would be great – I’d automate bots to search for keywords on my sites, have Google Analytics push it all into the index, then linkspam my SERPs – I’m a white-ish SEO with the coding skills of a luddite. I can do html reasonably well, but programming is waaay over my head.
More importantly: This proves that Google Analytics is integrated with Google’s organic search, and not just AdWords. I remember reading Winning Results with Google AdWords, and Andrew highlighted a debate as to whether or not Google Analytics “gives your sales receipts to the landlord,” to reprise his metaphore. Here we have another problem with Google Analytics, quite evidently.
This is another reason to make the switch to a Conversion Ruler (hat tip for the reference to Andrew), Click Audit for your [very easy to setup and use click tracking - you'll notice me using it instead of Feedburner/Google Analytics for tracking subscriptions], Mongoose for call-tracking, or any of the other analytics tools on the market. On a related note, if you found this material interesting, why not subscribe to my RSS feed ? There’s lots more where this comes from.
Update: Matt Cutts and Mike VanDeMar have anecdotal evidence (which I verified) that this happens on sites not using GA too. Mike’s site had this without ever using Google Analytics, apparently (he’s since developed a neat bit of code to drop those pages out of the index). So GA isn’t necessarily involved. It may, however, be one of several possible causes.
Update 2: Matt emailed me and he “will try” to get a post up on Google’s Webmaster blog about this.
Google, Search Engines, site search