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Over the holiday shopping period our website saw a huge increase in direct load traffic directly on the homepage (from 2mil to 8-9mil hits) and the bounce rate went through the roof on that page (70-80%). This is being reported by both Coremetrics and backed by Google Analytics.

Direct load traffic continues to rise on the home page only, IT and developers have poured through logs with no significant findings, looking for non-standard user agents and IPs. Nothing looks out of the ordinary except for a small amount of hits (10-15%) coming through with empty user agents strings.

So my question is, has anyone experienced anything similar on a site and if so how was the issue solved or troubleshot? At this point we are suspecting a distributed attack.

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What's the change in traffic sources? Is this direct traffic? –  Osvaldo Jan 11 '12 at 9:27
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2 Answers 2

You saw a huge increase, but "no significant findings"? Is the traffic still coming from the same general geolocation? Is there an increase to another geolocation; if so that possibly indicates spambots trying to seek out forms to spam and the sort.

It sounds like you're going to have to dump traffic between say a coouple of months before the holiday season, and then right during the traffic increase. Then use as many tools as you can to compare and split out what seems to be new.

I've seen something like this, but it was easy to spot the cause was IPs outside the US being the cause which were trying to spam various forms on the site.

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Very nice facts, When a user clicks a link in any kind of non-browser client, from Outlook to a desktop AIR app to the countless mobile and tablet apps, no referrer information is passed for that visit and your analytics software basically throws up its hands and puts the visit in the Direct Traffic bucket.

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true, but not an answer to the user, unless he used a mail campaign, which most probably he will remember and would the difference. –  PatomaS Oct 22 '12 at 6:44
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