Strange, short surge in visits from Opera Mini users
April 25, 2013 6:53 AM   Subscribe

Today, one page of our website experienced a 1 h surge: about 600 unique visitors landed there after doing a highly specific search on Google. The question was relevant and our (non-commercial) site ranks 1rst for this question, so while unusual this can be explained except for one thing: all those visitors were using the Opera Mini browser on a mobile device connected to a service provider that Google Analytics calls "Opera software asa". Also, the surge peaked at 11 am GMT+1 and then was basically over (no tail). Any idea of what happened?

The question was "characteristics of centrosema" and variants thereof. Centrosema is a tropical fodder plant that's only interesting to cattle. Visitors used different variants of this question and spent about 5 minutes on the page so it looks like they did a real search and then read the page (no bots ?). The languages were en-gb and en (not en-us, which is usually on top). The country was "not-set". Until now the page was consulted 5-7 times per day. Google Analytics reports low and regular usage of Opera Mini and the Opera provider until today 10 am GMT+1. The surge did not cause any problem (the page was cached as HTML).
My main theory is that the Opera Mini browser showed something for a few minutes on its home page that made curious people react to it. On the other hand some oddities have been reported with Opera Mini traffic before. The not set issue for Opera Mini seems to be explained here.
posted by elgilito to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
This is probably a pretty naive answer, but my thought was: students in a class all using the same device with the same software instructed to type that search into google and click on the top link? It would have to be a pretty big class to explain all 600 of them, but there could have also been some weirdness with the loading + cookie-saving/private browsing that caused people to refresh the page, reload a new cookie making multiple visits from a single user appear as multiple unique visitors.
posted by gubenuj at 7:18 AM on April 25, 2013

Response by poster: The classroom possibility crossed my mind too, but Google Analytics reports that 108 versions (from 2.0.7075 to 7.5.33361) of Opera Mini were used during that hour, which rules out that the same device was used. Perhaps a large conference in a country where Opera Mini is the ruling browser on mobile devices?
posted by elgilito at 7:52 AM on April 25, 2013

Developers on Opera Mini running a test.
posted by amaire at 8:24 AM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Opera Software ASA is the Norwegian maker of Opera browsers, so it was probably just some in-house testing. My guess is they happened to need a search for something that couldn't be in the browser cache, so they created a novel/unique (among their tests) search query and some variations on it, followed by the same page to be loaded.
posted by Sunburnt at 8:25 AM on April 25, 2013

The "Opera software ASA" origin may be due to Turbo Mode - it's a feature in Opera Mini where they reduce the amount of data downloaded to mobile devices by proxying and re-writting everything (e.g. shrinking images) on the fly.
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:43 PM on April 25, 2013

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