A Quick Search
Revealed The Solution
I recently noticed some unusual click-thrus on my site, and being the curious person I am, I investigated further.
The clicks were actually a redirect, which means people were attempting to navigate to one page but instead being taken to a completely unexpected page, a page that had nothing to do with anything on my site: x.vindicosuite.com.
The last time I checked, that URL delivered a blank page.
I did a search and found several posts explaining what was happening. It involved Sitemeter, a visitor tracking service for websites. Any site that had their code installed was vulnerable to the redirect.
The bad news is, even though Sitemeter was notified well over a year ago, they’ve done nothing about it.
I only discovered the problem in May 2015 so there is no telling how many visitors this glitch has run off. Frustrating!
But back to my point, the following explanation (complaint) was posted on Google Groups in October 2014.
x.vindcosuite.com seems to be “passive DNS replicator”, which may be performing a genuine function; but apparently buggy software at sitemeter results in pages with sitemeter counting code on them getting redirected there.
I’ve been seeing intermittent flashes of this sort of thing from sitemeter for over a year, and during that same period of time, the company has failed to respond to repeated questions directed at their “support” team.
As of yesterday evening, the problem was categorical rather than intermittent, so I removed the sitemeter code from the WordPress theme, and the problem went away.
As far as I can tell, this is a symptom of incompetence rather than malice, but in any case, sitemeter is clearly more trouble than it’s worth.
Before I discovered the Google discussion, I found a more recent post (March 2015) on Lola Jane’s Blog, which described exactly the same problem I was having.
I wouldn’t wish interference on any website but I was glad to know the problem wasn’t just mine and that the solution was an easy fix: remove Sitemeter’s code. I did and the problem is solved.
- Update: The number of unique visits to this site increased by 30% overnight after removing the code.
A big thanks to Lola for posting the information.
Let me finish with a recommendation. Before this problem surfaced I was using three different tracking services. One of them has become my go-to tracker and is easy to use: Statcounter.
Instead of showing the details of one visit at a time – Sitemeter’s arrangement – you can get as many as fifty visits on one page. Much easier to do a quick scan of what’s happening on a site.
And it’s free. They keep track of the last four days of visits for free, unless your visitor tally exceeds 9,000 visits per day. You can increase the number of days by upgrading to their paid service.
If you have a website and you need a good tracking service, try Statcounter.
I’ve learned an important lesson. Bad things happen, even for websites. You can’t take anything for granted. Daily monitoring is essential.