Google’s new "Instant Previews" search tool is skewing traffic stats for sites using Google Analytics, creating page views before pages are actually viewed.
Rolled out across Google’s search engine earlier this month, Instant Previews lets searchers, yes, preview sites before they visit them. Users click on a small icon that appears beside a search result, and this launches an image of the site in question on the right-hand-side of Google’s results page.
As Google pointed out when "Instant Previews" was launched, Google is – in some cases – fetching these previews in real time. Soon after the tool’s launch, webmasters posting to Google’s help forums noticed that these pre-fetches were skewing Google Anayltics numbers. And as noticed by Search Engine Land, a Google employee later confirmed this with a post of his own.