String's Automotive Marketing Blog

How to Stop Bots from Polluting Your Google Analytics Data on Cobalt

Posted by Matthew Kolodziej

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Sep 17, 2013 2:35:00 PM

Car dealers with Cobalt sites across the country are seeing massive traffic spikes in Google Analytics reports over the past few months, and the culprit is a bot arriving courtesy of Microsoft. Learn to block the bot from your Google Analytics reports by setting up a filter in a few easy steps.

Cobalt is currently sending out instructions on creating an advanced segment to dealers who have inquired about the traffic, and Brian Pasch posted similar advice on Digital Dealer. While this is a great way to segment out the traffic from your existing data, String recommends going one step further by setting a filter to prevent the bot from ever being recorded in your GA again. 

Set it and forget it

Setting up your filter takes only a few minutes, and it'll save you the hassle of dealing with the MSN bot appearing in your traffic reports from now on.

Start by navigating to the Admin tab in Google Analytics. You will find it in the top-right corner of the page:

Google_Analytics_for_car_dealers_admin_tab

After that, look for the "Filters" link under the "View (Profile)" tab on the right-hand side of the page. Click on it, and you'll open up the custom filter creation menu. 

Click on the button that says "+ New Filter," name your new filter something along the lines of "MSN Bot Exclusion," and keep the radial button for "Predefined filter" selected. 

Next, make sure that your dropdowns are set to "Exclude," "traffic from the ISP domain," and "that are equal to." Those should be the default settings for the dropdown, so you don't even have to change anything!

Once those are set, enter "msn.com" as the ISP domain to exclude, and you're done! It should look like this:

 Google_Analytics_for_car_dealers_exclusion_filter

Hit save, and you're now blocking the Bing bot from polluting your reports.

Clean up

Now that you've protected your GA reports from bot damage going forward, it's time to clean up the mess that Bing has left behind. The damage has already been done, so the best you can do is apply an advanced segment that will exclude the traffic any reports you run for July, August, and September. 

We've gone ahead and created the segment for you, so all you have to do is following the link below and pick the Google Analytics profile that you'd like to clean up:

https://www.google.com/analytics/web/template?uid=MNS4Q5S0SiyMk-R7h6BXCQ

Once you apply it to a profile, you'll be looking at the admin page again. Click the save button, and then click the "Reporting" tab along the top orange navbar to be taken back to your reports. Now, look for the downward arrow near the top of the reports with "All Visits" next to it:

Google_Analytics_for_car_dealers_audience_overview_tab

Click that, and then look through your segments for one called "Exclude MSN Bot Traffic." Click on it, hit the apply button, and your traffic will look normal again:

Google_Analytics_for_car_dealers_audience_overview

You can also click the small "x" to close the All Visits segment to only look at clean reports.

String DPS

If dealing with advanced segments and filters seems too daunting or complicated, then check out the Dealer Positioning System, our new analytics product designed specifically for car dealers. It pulls all of your Google Analytics data, presents action items, and filters out all bot traffic: Bing and otherwise.

Why is Bing going bananas?

Many have noticed that the landing pages tied to this bot traffic contain parameters for the Cobalt Flex program, so it's safe to say that something there is making the Bing bot mental. There's no reason to think that it's going to be harmful for your site or your Bing rankings, but it's certainly causing problems in reporting. 

Google Analytics for car dealers needn't be complicated: with the advanced segment to fix this summer's data, and the filter in place to keep the bot traffic from popping in Analytics from now on, you're golden. If you're having trouble getting either the segment or the filter to work, drop us a line in the comments below, and we're happy to help!

Topics: auto dealer analytics, google analytics, automotive seo