Any resolution to the SmugMug statistics problems?

redcrown@mchsi.com[email protected] http://kellyphoto.smugmugRegistered Users Posts: 56 Big grins

The Google Analytics for my SumgMug has gone south. It no longer shows "image" hits, only gallery hits. Not much value when trying to see most "popular" photos. Anybody know why?

Used to be I could go to "Behavior/Site Content/All Pages" and see all pages, both gallery and images. Now only gallery pages appear and I don't see any way to drill down to images.

And a related question: A few years ago there was great controversy over SmugMugs own stats. At the time they were bogus because owner view and "pre-fetch" stuff was being counted, which led to grossly inflated numbers. One old thread on that issue is here:

https://dgrin.com/discussion/257026/smugmug-statistics-update

Neither Google or Dgrin searches show me anything newer than 2018. Was this issue ever resolved? Are SmugMug stats still inflated?

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Comments

  • Djm3006Djm3006 Major grins Steamboat Springs, ColoradoRegistered Users Posts: 213 Major grins

    Thinking your best bet would be to email SmugMug [email protected]

  • redcrown@mchsi.com[email protected] http://kellyphoto.smugmug Registered Users Posts: 56 Big grins

    OK, had to re-run some test. Result = SumgMug stats are still bogus. Logged out, displayed a gallery (gallery view) that had not been visited by anyone in a long time. Scrolled up and down the page with 72 thumbs. Clicked on 5 at random to get a "lightbox" display. One hour later, no stats yet. Went to bed, next morning I've got 73 "small" hits. Every thumb was counted, one twice! Plus I've got 12 "X3" hits. The 5 I actually looked at, plus 7 others I didn't look at. Must be pre-fetched.

    So, Smugmug stats still worthless, but does anybody know what happened to Google Analytics? Are yours working? Are you getting individual image hits or just gallery hits?

  • jimhjimh MinneapolisRegistered Users Posts: 130 Major grins
    edited August 8, 2020

    I just did a test of GA on my site, using a browser on my phone while watching the GA real-time display on a laptop. I see a hit for the gallery page, but nothing if I click on an individual photo. I wonder if Google even sees the photo as an actual 'page' or just a sort of lightbox display of an image that's on the gallery page. But I'm pretty sure I used to see hits on individual photos.

  • Djm3006Djm3006 Major grins Steamboat Springs, ColoradoRegistered Users Posts: 213 Major grins

    I think you will find that Google is a big black hole, that know one expert google know how's it works and indexes photos.

  • redcrown@mchsi.com[email protected] http://kellyphoto.smugmug Registered Users Posts: 56 Big grins

    Thanks jimh for testing. I've continued testing and had a short dialogue with a SmugMug "Hero". The Hero denies anything is wrong with Smugmug. Simple tests repeatedly show something is wrong. I had a friend with a Zenfolio account test. All is OK there. By stepping back in my Google Analytics one month at a time it appears the error started in June 2020. History prior to June 2020 shows individual image hits (lightbox). After June 2020, nothing. StatCounter faithfully shows individual image hits. Any Smugmug heroes that want to take a bet?

  • Djm3006Djm3006 Major grins Steamboat Springs, ColoradoRegistered Users Posts: 213 Major grins

    found this today, could why individual SM images don't show up in GA, "Content still needs to be dispersed via social media, blogs, forums, etc for it to show up in search results, but SmugMug has a well polished codebase that takes search engines into consideration and won't hinder content's exposure potential."

  • redcrown@mchsi.com[email protected] http://kellyphoto.smugmug Registered Users Posts: 56 Big grins

    Djm3006, I don't know where that quote comes from, or even what it means. But best guess is it refers to Google (or any search engine) being able to "crawl" your Smugmug site and offer up results to anyone who searches. Smugmug has an account setting to control this. The Smugmug Hero suggested I turn that setting on to allow Google to index my site, and maybe that would make image hits show up in analytics. I did, not expecting it to work, and it didn't.

    Does not make any sense. Smugmug, and any site that feeds Google Analytics has to report to Google with the "property ID" for every hit. Smugmug has to say to Google, "Hey, somebody looked at this page (URL) for property ID xxxxx." Smugmug did that faithfully for years, until June 2020, then stopped for some unknown reason.

    Still looking for others to confirm or deny that Smugmug image hits are not showing up in Google Analytics.

  • jimhjimh MinneapolisRegistered Users Posts: 130 Major grins
    edited August 11, 2020

    Still thinking it may have something to do with the theme I'm using . I wouldn't be surprised if some themes report images as page hits and some don't.

    But actually I'm more concerned about what google indexes, which is not the problem being dicussed here.

    Google obviously could index pages that don't announce themselves to GA.

  • jimhjimh MinneapolisRegistered Users Posts: 130 Major grins
    edited August 11, 2020

    I looked at this some more - here's what I figured out.

    Browse to one of your galleries - you'll get a hit in GA. Click on one of the photo thumbnails and bring up that image - you get a new URL, but no hit in GA. But copy that image's URL, open another browser tab, paste and go - and you see the hit in GA.

    My conclusion is that as you click on individual images in a gallery you're not vieweing pages or generating 'page hits' as far as SmugMug is concerned. But if you browse directly to the URL of an image, you do generate a page and a hit. This seems to be the way SmugMug's code currently works and if so, its integration with GA is no longer of much use to us as it will only show gallery accesses.

    Another interesting question: does this behavior affect Google's ability to crawl the site? And might this be part of the reason that none of my individual photos ever get indexed (according to Search Console)?

  • redcrown@mchsi.com[email protected] http://kellyphoto.smugmug Registered Users Posts: 56 Big grins

    Thanks again, jimh. I tried the cut-and-paste trick and it worked. That's really bizarre, and needs more testing. It's just becoming more clear that Smugmug is the culprit. Their code is not sending "hits" to GA when it should. The Smugmug code used to work, but stopped sometime in June. If I could get Smugmug's attention, that should be a good clue. This is probably one of those times when Smugmug won't admit to the problem, but it will mysteriously disappear in some future update. I continue to be amazed and confused that the large audience of Smugmug users shows little or no interest in stats.

    P.S. I'm in Des Moines, IA. We got hammered hard today by a big storm. 70 to 100mph winds, trees down all over, 150K people without power. Did you get that in Mpls?

  • Djm3006Djm3006 Major grins Steamboat Springs, ColoradoRegistered Users Posts: 213 Major grins

    @[email protected] said:
    Djm3006, I don't know where that quote comes from, or even what it means. But best guess is it refers to Google (or any search engine) being able to "crawl" your Smugmug site and offer up results to anyone who searches. Smugmug has an account setting to control this. The Smugmug Hero suggested I turn that setting on to allow Google to index my site, and maybe that would make image hits show up in analytics. I did, not expecting it to work, and it didn't.

    Does not make any sense. Smugmug, and any site that feeds Google Analytics has to report to Google with the "property ID" for every hit. Smugmug has to say to Google, "Hey, somebody looked at this page (URL) for property ID xxxxx." Smugmug did that faithfully for years, until June 2020, then stopped for some unknown reason.

    Still looking for others to confirm or deny that Smugmug image hits are not showing up in Google Analytics.

    The person was comparing photo sites, but after reading what jimh has posted above, I agree with him on his conclusion as that what I also have found.P.S stay safe

  • AllenAllen "tweak 'til it squeaks" St. Louis, MoRegistered Users Posts: 9,925 Major grins
    edited August 11, 2020

    Does anyone realize that Smugmug changes the link to any photo you post. Whatever your site is they change it to photos.smugmug.com/...jpg.
    There is no way that anyone has a clue it's from your site, probably Google also.

    Al - Just a volunteer here having fun
    My Website index | My Blog
  • jimhjimh MinneapolisRegistered Users Posts: 130 Major grins

    @Allen said:
    Does anyone realize that Smugmug changes the link to any photo you post. Whatever your site is they change it to photos.smugmug.com/...jpg.
    There is no way that anyone has a clue it's from your site, probably Google also.

    My SM gallery is accessed via a subdomain on my own domain: gallery.jimhphoto.com. SM generates the sitemap for that gallery and all the URLs in it are for my subdomain, not smugmug. I submitted that sitemap to Google, and that's how Google should see the site. Some of my galleries are now properly indexed. The problem is that none of the individual photos are, despite being in the sitemap. I believe at least a few of the individual images used to be indexed, but things have changed somehow.

    The reasons for this are not obvious because for one thing, Google Search Console has given me weird, conflicting and changing information about what's indexed and how the sitemap is being used. It's possible that Google uses the sitemap but just declines to index individual images because of their thin text content. It's also possible that Google doesn't use the sitemap but just crawls the site directly, and doesn't see the individual image 'pages' for some reason.

    I've been blogging about my ongoing battle to get Google to find and index my photography, and I'll be writing another post shortly because I've learned some new things.
    https://jimhphoto.com/index.php/2019/11/28/smugmug-and-seo-crickets-chirping/

  • jimhjimh MinneapolisRegistered Users Posts: 130 Major grins

    @[email protected] said:
    P.S. I'm in Des Moines, IA. We got hammered hard today by a big storm. 70 to 100mph winds, trees down all over, 150K people without power. Did you get that in Mpls?

    Here in the city we had a hellacious electrical storm and heavy rain at 2 AM. But we didn't get the high winds.

  • JenuineJenuine Big grins Registered Users Posts: 125 SmugMug Employee

    Thank you for all of the detail on the images not being counted on GA. A bug report has been submitted for this. The QA team will review as soon as they are able. Your analysis is much appreciated.

    Jen
    SmugMug Support Hero
  • redcrown@mchsi.com[email protected] http://kellyphoto.smugmug Registered Users Posts: 56 Big grins

    Jenuine, thank you for acknowledging this issue with stats. I appreciate official attention on the issue.

  • snakeey11snakeey11 SmugMug Engineer Santa Cruz County, CARegistered Users Posts: 88 SmugMug Employee

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention. I just now pushed a fix for this so individual image hits are being tracked again. You should be able to verify it is working by going to the Realtime > Content screen in Google Analytics and checking that the Active Users changes as you navigate to different images in the lightbox. The Pageviews (Last 30 min) tab should also show the individual hits as well. After some delay, they'll end up in Behavior > Site Content > All Pages as mentioned above.

    Please let us know if you see any further issues.

    -Mike

    SmugMug Sorcerer
    (and an avid landscape photographer - view my website)
  • jimhjimh MinneapolisRegistered Users Posts: 130 Major grins

    snakeey11, I think you meant to say "active page" rather than "active users" but, yes, I'm now seeing the individual page hits. Thanks for the update!

  • Djm3006Djm3006 Major grins Steamboat Springs, ColoradoRegistered Users Posts: 213 Major grins
  • britlandscapesbritlandscapes Big grins United KingdomRegistered Users Posts: 65 Big grins
    edited August 26, 2020
  • jimhjimh MinneapolisRegistered Users Posts: 130 Major grins

    @britlandscapes said:
    Not showing anything in mine.

    You're hooked up to GA and not seeing any hits at all? Or just not seeing the hits on individual photos?

  • britlandscapesbritlandscapes Big grins United KingdomRegistered Users Posts: 65 Big grins
    edited August 27, 2020

    @jimh said:

    @britlandscapes said:
    Not showing anything in mine.

    You're hooked up to GA and not seeing any hits at all? Or just not seeing the hits on individual photos?

    Yes, I am connected to GA and have been for over 12 months with hits since I joined SM but if I follow @snakeey11 instructions as above the hits as he mentions are not showing.
    Just realised that probably because I have a filter set up to exclude my IP address.
    Over the last few days, I have noticed that image hits are now starting to show in behaviour > Site Content > All Pages

    Separately on statistics, I have noticed that Referers seems to have stopped showing anything !!!

  • redcrown@mchsi.com[email protected] http://kellyphoto.smugmug Registered Users Posts: 56 Big grins

    OP here - confirming that Google Analytics data sent from Smugmug seems to be corrected, i.e., back to normal. Thanks.

  • kmsPhotokmsPhoto CaliforniaRegistered Users Posts: 7 Big grins
    For several months GA Page Views and GA User counts have not correlated well (or at all) with Smugmug Stats, e.g. Total VIews. I've read this thread and just got a response back from a Smugmug Hero (not useful).

    Here is an example of the problem for September 1-30:
    I did not go into my website from Sept 1 to 19 (either via Desktop or Mobile) and SM reported several hundred total views of my images, fine so far. However, GA reported NO page views and ZERO users during this same period. Note that the only filter I have for GA is my city.
    After Sept 19, I continued to get more SM image view hits, and I started to get a few page views/users in GA also. I did nothing to the setting in either SM or GA until today. Following Snakeey11, I temporarily disabled the GA city filter and went to my website on another desktop computer.
    GA Realtime reported the correct number of images I viewed and the correct Galleries I was in while on the other computer. I had done this test probably a year ago too and it showed everything was fine in Realtime. Also note that during September, the SM hits (Total Views) were not from
    my excluded city, as expected (i.e. the GA city filter works as expected. There is no IP or other filter.)

    The Smugmug Hero said "Do keep in mind we count some of your logged in view". What is she referring to by "some". I thought when I was logged into my home desktop, not a mobile app, Smugmug never counted these interactions?

    So, why does GA fail to report (and disagree with) SM for both September AND for other months I have checked recently? Is it possible SM is wrong and GA is correct !? How can I fix this? Is the 'Trial Version" of GA that you get to with SM limited/buggy or expiring, or what?
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    https://www.spark-of-light-photography.com
  • jimhjimh MinneapolisRegistered Users Posts: 130 Major grins

    I'm pretty sure GA is the truth, and that those astronomical numbers SM is showing are just noise. I never look at them.

  • kmsPhotokmsPhoto CaliforniaRegistered Users Posts: 7 Big grins
    > @jimh said:
    > I'm pretty sure GA is the truth, and that those astronomical numbers SM is showing are just noise. I never look at them.

    I posted my question to the Google Analytics Community website but no replies so far.
    I don't understand how SM could be creating what I would call False Positives (not true image hits) when I was logged off my computer and also it was powered off for 19 days; i.e. they can't be originating from me! So, how would they be erroneously 'created' by SM?
    From what little I know so far, it seems somewhat more likely that GA False Negatives (no image hits when users are actually on my site) could be more likely, e.g. Google is ignoring my website pages, too many images to index, whatever?
  • jimhjimh MinneapolisRegistered Users Posts: 130 Major grins
    edited October 6, 2020

    No idea, really, where those phantom visits come from - maybe it's some sort of internal activity at SM, just an automated process that should probably be filtered out. But I decided long ago that no, hundreds of people aren't really looking at my photos every month. :-)

    GA is widely used by site admins everywhere, so I give it a lot of credibility.

  • kmsPhotokmsPhoto CaliforniaRegistered Users Posts: 7 Big grins

    Last week I emailed SmugMug help with details of the inconsistencies I have found between SM Stats and Google Analytics (GA). I was emailed back that they (SM) will look into it, so I have no more information, yet.
    However, I did get a follow-up response from GA Support on Oct 4:

    _"I have no idea about smugmug tracking in regards to photo views.. however.. __
    ppl do have the ability to use adblockers and such to block GA from tracking them, quite a few browsers/devices these days, have tracking protection turned on by default.. which prevents GA tracking.
    If all they require is adding the tracking id to a field, and then their system takes care of the installation.. then the onus is on them to ensure it is properly integrated and tracking correctly, there is little you can do about it from your side as you have no control over how the tracking is installed.
    There does certainly appear to be issues though with their integration of it and how it is configured to track."
    _
    In addition the following article may also indicate the problem is not (only ?) with SmugMug Stats: Google Analytics stopped working? Here are 15 ways to fix it. (https://www.optimizesmart.com/google-analytics-stopped-working-10-ways-fix/)
    I did try Google Tag Manager when viewing images on my website. I got some warnings about "Non-Standard-Implementation" but I don't know if this is causing some of the discrepancies between SM and GA.

    So, I suppose the problem may me with Smugmug, or may be with GA, of the use of adblockers, or all (and more!) Hopefully this get resolved. Let me know if you want me to post the information I get back from SM help.

  • jimhjimh MinneapolisRegistered Users Posts: 130 Major grins

    FWIW, I've never gotten much of value from Google Search Community, mostly just canned-sounding replies that avoided my real question, from people who seemed to be Google loyalists.

    Besides SM, I also have most of my photos on Fine Art America, and their 'visitor' counts are similarly inflated - I'm pretty sure that dozens of people aren't looking at my photos every day or I'd be selling one a bit more often. Other users have questioned these numbers and the forum admins over there are always saying they're visits from search 'bots', i.e. indexing crawlers from various unspecified search engines. And I've always really doubted that. Google certainly isn't endlessly revisiting my old photos, and I don't know why any other sites would be doing this either. So what are these visits? Port scans? Spider code gone haywire? Who knows. But somehow it really ought to be filtered out.

  • kmsPhotokmsPhoto CaliforniaRegistered Users Posts: 7 Big grins

    Jim, I've certainly seen a lot of weirdness with SM stats too. On Oct 8 and 9 an image I just put in my "Recent Work" gallery called "Badlands NP, South Dakota" got 84 views. There were single views of a few others during those days. It's not an amazing image by any means, I like it, good memories, whatever. There is nothing in the keywords that make it stand out. So why did it draw so much attention, either from real viewers (doubtful) or from bots? And yes, I'm pretty sure dozens of people aren't looking at my images every day, maybe not even every month! As you said "Who Knows"
    Ken

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