You can’t measure the traffic from our site. Yeah, right.

A story cropped up in conversation with a client a few weeks back which I hadn’t heard for a long time, but subsequent investigation reveals it’s still a frequent occurrence. It’s the bizarre claim made by salesmen from certain websites that “you can’t measure the traffic from our site, as we deliver it in a special way which won’t be shown by your analytics software”.

I’m sorry? They’re sending you visitors – something they should be proud of – and they’re doing it in such a way that you won’t be able to measure what they’re doing? Give me a break.

There’s something very suspicious going on here – indeed, I’d go as far as to say it might well be outright lying. I’m not quite sure how you send traffic through from one website to another in a way which hides its source, but assuming you can, it would be a deliberate effort and why would you do that?

The claim usually seems to crop up when a website says “we sent you 100 visitors last month” and you reply (after looking at your visitor stats) that you can only see 3. That’s the point at which our tall tale kicks in. The salesman from the other website knows that you want his site to have delivered a decent number of visitors, because you’ve paid to be on the site and you want your choice to be vindicated. But his story is nonsense, and please don’t be deceived by it. If your website visitor analytics says that he sent you 3 people, then he sent you 3 people.

Now, it’s possible that a third-party website might claim to have sent you more people than you’re currently seeing from them, and the reason for the discrepancy is just that they use a looser definition of a real visitor than you do. Don’t forget, your Google Analytics (or whatever) is ruthless in filtering out what it reckons is “non-human” traffic out there, and there’s a lot of that type of traffic. A good site will be quite open that this might be the case. You should still use your data, not theirs, but recognise that they’re being honest and trying to do their best. It’s when the other site comes up with a ridiculous story like “you can’t measure the traffic from our site, as we deliver it in a special way” that you should run a mile. There are so many better ways you can use any advertising budget you might have allocated to them. Don’t waste any more.

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