So, a few years back a client of mine was very excited about their recent uptick in web traffic, though it wasn’t very clear why. The client had just finished a complete redesign of their website, so at first we assumed it was the new site and all the SEO kungfu of the hotshot designer they had hired.
It had been a few months and the designer was not responding to repeated emails, so I decided to help them out. But after digging a little deeper, it became even more confusing. The main keyword for all the traffic was completely unrelated to the client or their industry. After researching the keywords, I realized it was another local company. And then it clicked…
In researching the problem, I found a recurring potential cause in forums: this often happens when designers plagiarize another site. So I looked at the source for the other local company’s web site and sure enough, they were using my client’s Google Analytics code. Just the home page though… all other pages had, what I assume, was their own code.
Still no response from the designer, so I called the company with the copied home page. But they act like I’m crazy, have no idea what I’m talking about and finally ditch me into some sales voicemail that never called me back. I filled out their contact-us web form and even tried emailing postmaster@… but no response.
Why would they plagiarize my clients site? It looks and functions nothing like it. It finally occurred to me that it was the hotshot, SEO optimised, cloud based, paradigm shifting web designer that screwed it up (lets call him [hotshot] to protect the innocent). By this time, he was already persona non grata to my client for reasons they never explained… though it was about to become clear.
While I was comparing the source of the two sites, I caught something I missed the first time. Just happened to notice this little nugget of comment in the header:
<!-- NOTE ABOUT THE GLOBAL NAVIGATION SYSTEM: This site was built on the cheap and does not include a lot of great programing. In particular, the global navigation system could/should have used jquery for a cleaner more, more professional codebase. ... A jquery version was built (for fun), but was not implemented because this hack worked and because it was done on the developer's own time. -->
The analytics code issue was funny… but this just made my day. Forwarded it to a few of my friends, had a good chuckle and forgot about it for a while.
With no response from their sysadmin, I gave up and decided to focus on my clients account. So I set up some filters to keep this imposter site from tainting our analytics. Much to my clients shagrin, their traffic was no longer so exciting.
A few months later, I tried their contact-us form again just for kicks.
You are still using the wrong Analytics tracking code in your home page. Please search your source code for UA-2#####4-1 and replace it with UA-6#####1-1. We have managed to filter out the results from your domain. But, I thought you would want to know.
p.s. never assume no one reads the comments in the source code.
To my surprise, I got this the next day:
Thank you for informing us of the incorrect tracking code. I really appreciate the filtering of results of our site and I am now in the process of changing that code. We had originally hired an outside group to build the website and in the nicest of term they did not deliver anything from any phase of the project. I have just recently take a little more control of website design and maintenance. I have not had the opportunity to look into the analytics side of our site, because I did not set it up.
I do know people read the source code, but I am unsure what you have seen that would elicit the smiley. I would like to know if there are any comments buried that put a bad light on my company. For I have edited out the “Jackwagon” comments the previously mentioned company put in there. I edited them to tell a more truthful story of their dealings with us.
Well, the “jackwagon” comments definitely earned you a smiley, nothing more sinister than that. And my filter doesn’t help you at all. Regardless… time to check out the updated headers:
<!-- NOTE ABOUT THE GLOBAL NAVIGATION SYSTEM: This site was built incorrectly and poorly by [hotshot]. In particular, the global navigation system could/should have used jquery for a cleaner more, more professional codebase, but shortcuts were taken by [hotshot], unauthorized shortcuts. The site is now taking on necessary corrections that should have not been needed if site was correctly built and to budget by [hotshot]. The global navigation, instead, uses a hack for the mouseover/mouseout triggers related to showing/hiding the secondary navigation bar. It uses what we call a "phantom zone," which is a set of four floating objects that surround the global navigation chunks, including the crumbtrail. A jquery version was built (for fun), this was the fun that was had while wasting customer time in meetings, but was not implemented because this hack was used and because the developer wasted the customers time and money. -->
Alas, as entertaining as all this may be, the new guy has failed to fix one rather important mistake: THEY’RE STILL USING OUR GOOGLE ANALYTICS CODE! Oh well, we filtered their domain out of our reports a long time ago. Maybe he’ll catch it when he finally implements jquery.
Update: They did finally fix the GA code… but they never implemented jquery. This was 4 years ago and the comments still remain.
<!--var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker("UA-2#####4-1"); the jackwagons who originally built this site put in the wrong id. -->