How Does Google Analytics Register Direct Image Visits?

Quick headscratcher this one - on a wordpress blog I’m looking at in my top content report I see visits to an image:

ga

This image has been posted to reddit and has received lots of traffic from there which is why it stood out. My question though, how are these visits being tracked in analytics? There’s no javascript being called on the page since the page just consists of the image?

Is the google analytics plugin doing a server side google analytics call? It’s possible but I think unlikely.

Am I being dumb? Anyone else seen this?

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10 Comments

  1. Another one that's always baffled me is how GA picks up views to PDFs - again there is no tracking script on the PDF itself, and GA doesn't track downloads without setting up a trackpageview listener... so what is going on there?

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  2. Have you installed Yoast's image search tracking hack?

    http://yoast.com/image-search-keyword-tracking-with-the-new-google-analytics/

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  3. Hi Tom,

    I've found this issue into my analytics too. The problem is that when this image is not found the WP page, that has the analytics script.

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  4. It doesn't - at least not in the normal way it's installed (though of course, all your image downloads are in the server logs - but that doesn't help your analytic reports...)

    There is a way of doing it through server-side tweakiness using mod_rewrite - take a look at: http://www.vdgraaf.info/google-analytics-without-javascript.html

    Integration with wordpress is left as an exercise to the interested user (though, when I started writing this comment, I was almost certain I'd seen a plugin to do it - though I now can't find it...)

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  5. Ah - found the option - using Google Analyticator (http://cavemonkey50.com/code/google-analyticator/) there's an option to track files of various types by entering the extensions. It may well be the case that a plugin you have (or maybe the theme?) is doing all the fancy server side stuff for you?

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  6. I'm guessing it's the JavaScript picking up the next page that is being requested / served....but couldn't be certain. Although, if the traffic's coming from Reddit as opposed to a page on your site the JS has not even had any time to activated, so it's even less likely...however GA also tracks the HTTP request of the visitor so I expect this is where the info is coming from...

    More info here:
    http://code.google.com/apis/analytics/docs/gaConceptsOverview.html

    Ben

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  7. Hi Tom, did you guys ever get to the bottom of this?

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  8. Hey Rich - no not yet. I think it must be something to do with the plugin generating click-tracking links or some such but I've had no time to look into it recently so still not proved that for definite! Will try and look into it next week

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  9. Important emerging trend, thanks everyone who kicked in ideas.

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  10. This is something which has always got me thinking. I think as time goes on and with the development of technology, we will be able to get more of an idea on this aspect of seo.

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