My website traffic jumped through the upper atmosphere in one day… why?
A couple weeks ago my website traffic increased over 1400% in one day. I was initially thrilled when I saw the visits graph skyrocketing upward at an 89 ° angle but, I knew better than to celebrate before drilling into the data and finding the source of this unexpected traffic windfall.
Investigating the Cause of the Increase in Visits
Step 1: Distinguish between a Short-Term Event or Increase in Overall Exposure
When investigating unexpected spikes in traffic I immediately go to the Main Traffic Sources Report. This report shows the percentage of traffic volume and visit counts for each major medium: direct, referral, search, and other. Then, I turn on Day-vs.-Day comparison (comparing the current dayâ€™s traffic with the traffic spike to the previous day or the same day in the previous week), which allows me to see whether the spike was due to a jump in a particular medium or to a site-wide increase. A spike in one medium indicates the traffic increase will likely be a one-day or short-term event, while a site-wide increase signals a significant increase in overall exposure of the site.
Step 2: Analyze Traffic Source
Upon conducting the previous step, I notice the traffic spike was clearly from “direct/none” (direct visits, no medium) because the increase in direct visits was over 1300%. A change of that magnitude usually means I just received some significant press coverage that featured my URL or that there was some technical problem causing visits to be incorrectly counted. Under normal conditions I wouldn’t see that big of an increase in direct traffic without some external influence event.
Step 3: Find the Location of the Traffic Source
So, this led me to drill into the All Traffic Sources Report, so I selected the “direct/none” medium and drilled into the results. When evaluating direct traffic details the best approach is to segment by City. Was the traffic concentrated to one city, or across many? A concentration from one city indicates a local press event, massive word-of-mouth exposure, single person hitting the site over and over and deleting cookies during each visit, or space aliens visiting. Traffic increasing from many geographically disparate cities indicates national press exposure or some other non-geographically specific event. In drilling into details, I noticed the traffic was concentrated from Mountain View and Las Vegas, the majority coming from Mountain View. Aha! Was it a new version of Google Bot?
Step 4: Find Owner of the Traffic Source
More Details about Kintiskton LLC – a bot/spider/ufo perhaps?
Some others have had sightings of Kintiskton, they include:
Other behavior I’ve noticed is that every click is a new visit. The bot appears to be accepting cookies and executing JS fully, posting forms, and inventing URL’s with JS functions. It reminds me of the post a while back from Google about their experimental crawler that is able to partially post forms and access deeper content.
Who might be behind Kintiskton LLC?
Could Kintiskton be a Google “superbot” operating under a cloak provided by this ghost company? I ran a business license search in CA, Nevada, and Delaware and found Kintiskton LLC is licensed in Delaware as an LLC, formed on 5/1/2008, and has a registered agent of “The Corporation Trust Company” on Orange Street in Wilmington, Delaware. Helpful… Look it up for yourself using the Delaware Department of State Corporation Division search tool, or just go to the detail page for Kintiskton LLC. This doesn’t really answer who is behind Kintiskton… but it provides an interesting rabbit trail to say the least. The mystery will probably continue!
The Kintiskton IP addresses captured by others reporting scans from this bot resolve to:
Kintiskton LLC, Campbell, California, United States
Kintiskton LLC 188.8.131.52 – 184.108.40.206
IP Address 220.127.116.11
Location: US, United States
City: Montara, CA 94037
Organization: Kintiskton LLC
ISP Verizon Business
18.104.22.168 – Geo Information IP Address 22.214.171.124 Host 126.96.36.199 Location USUS, United States City Diamond Bar, CA 91765 Organization Kintiskton LLC ISP Verizon Business AS Number AS701 Latitude 33°99’58” North Longitude 117°81’89” West Distance 10616.32 km (6596.68 miles)
Thanks to John Henson at LunaMetrics, a fantastic Google Analytics Authorized Consultant for the IP address location tip.
UPDATE: A resolution found for Kintiskton
See this excellent post about Kintiskton that seems to have found a reasonable explanation: trademark protection. That would explain why it crawls past robots.txt, through forms, executes JS, and accepts cookies.