One of my clients had some strange data show up in Analytics recently. Beginning on June 2, and continuing until very recently, thousands of organic search visits from the source “live.”
All on 7 branded queries, including 4 common misspellings, plus a couple visits on really random, off-topic queries. During its peak, this “live” actually sent more visits than Bing and almost as many as Yahoo.
Could it be some remnant of the pre-Bing Microsoft Live search engine? Nope – www.live.com forwards to their Live Mail signin now, and nothing showed up in Analytics as “live” back when Live was live. Microsoft organic traffic reliably showed up as “msn.”
The client did have an unexplained dip in Facebook referral traffic around the same time. Could it be people searching on Facebook? Nope – the only organic search returns I see in Facebook are direct Bing links at the bottom of a search results page. No way those sent 1000s of people to the client’s website, instead of their Facebook page, and got labeled as “live” along the way.
I asked around the office: “Anyone know what ‘live’ is in Analytics organic search? Anyone see ‘live’ in your own accounts?” Sound of crickets chirping. I checked my other accounts and found 1, 2, maybe 3 visits on a random assortment of queries. Nothing anything like what this client saw. I Google’d the heck out of “live” and “analytics,” to no avail.
Now my curiosity was piqued. 100% New Visits, and a Bounce Rate of 99.9%. These clearly aren’t normal searchers. Almost everybody from the US, plus a tiny percentage from France and Hong Kong. Conspicuously absent were any visits from the client’s other major market, Canada. Not much to go on.
100% on Windows and – what’s this? – 100% using Chrome as their browser! Some sort of app or extension? What does Chrome have that no other browser has? Chrome Instant, an optional feature in which Chrome will beginning loading the site it thinks you want as soon as you begin typing in the address bar. Which would, of course, explain the strange 100% New Visits and 99.9% Bounce Rate. I’m assuming that, if a searcher actually proceeds to the site, that the traffic then gets reassigned as direct type in. Or, as Google organic if the rest of their typing leads them to a full search results page rather than the pre-loaded site.
Why did this client have so many, and others so few, or none at all? Their brand name and domain begins, unusually, with 2 consecutive consonants. Which means Google can fairly safely assume that anyone starting with these 2 consonants is looking for that site, and start pre-loading it.
There you have it. “Live” is Chrome Instant traffic.