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How to get rid of Referral Spam from Google Analytics Reports


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Google Analytics is the most widely used statistics service for monitoring site traffic. It offers plenty of reports and filters that allow you to analyze this traffic. However, lately, Google Analytics has begun to be scandalized by spamming the quality and accuracy of reports.

If you want to be able to rely on Google Analytics data, you'll need to remove these spam as soon as you notice them. In this article, I'll show you how to identify and block sites that are spamming and spoiling the quality of your traffic reports.

Let's first look at signs of having spam (spam) in Google Analytics reports.

What is a Referral Spam?
An Analytics report that is infected with spam referral is noticeable by the presence of referrals that should not link to your site. Here are some manifestations of the infection:
  • Sudden changes in reports. These include: too much referral traffic, a high bounce rate, and a short visit time.
  • Another feature of these false visits is the (not set) value in most information fields.
This type of spamming of the reports is called "referral spam" because it was first identified as a fake referral, but can also appear as a search term, or a direct visit. Here's how an "infected" report looks like, and how you can see if your report has this problem:

In the Aquisition menu, choose All Traffic, then Referrals. If the largest share of the result comes from unknown addresses such as erot.co, free-social-buttons.com, site.1floating-share-buttons.com, success-seo.com, webmonetizer.net, trafficmonetizer.org, and so on then Google Analytics reports a lot more visits than you actually have.

These spammers do not actually visit your site, they just infiltrate your report to make you curious to see who is referring to you, and so click on their address. From there, you can be redirected to another site, bringing traffic to that site. In conclusion, for spammers, this is a "black-hat" method of getting traffic, and for you, a laugh. Thousands of Google Analytics accounts are affected, so you can imagine how much traffic spammers get through this method.

How do you can get rid of spam reporting with Google Analytics Reports?
Types of Referral Spammers That Affect You
Before you see step by step how to get rid of this stuff, you have to specify the next thing. According to how spammers work, there are two types of infections:

  • Ghost Spam (e.g., floating-share-buttons.com) - They do not access your own site but infiltrate directly into Google Analytics reports. Therefore, they will be stopped by a filter applied to the reports.
  • Crawler Referrer Spam (eg success-seo.com) - Robot spammers access your site just like an indexing robot but in order to attract traffic to the site from which they are sent. The only sure method to stop them is to edit the .htaccess file.
Blocking a Ghost Referral Spam
If you're dealing with Ghost Spam, you can stop this spam referral before it gets into your reports using a Google Analytics filter. Let's see how we create this filter in four simple steps:

Step 1: Prepare a list of all the "sites" that are spamming you using the information in your reports. If some new spammers appear in the future, you will need to edit the list by adding new sites to your filter.

Step 2: In the Admin environment, create a new filter.

Step 3: Fill out the form to exclude visits from the first referral from your list, as follows in the example below, then apply an "all website data" filter and save it.

Step 4: Repeat step 3 for each unknown spammer's address from your list.

Check from time to time if Google Analytic reports start cleaning up, and update filters through new additions whenever necessary. This method will not get rid of the false visits from the pre-filter period, but in the future you will have cleaner reports with data closer to reality.

Blocking a Spam Referral Crawler
If you are dealing with Crawler Spam, you will need to edit the .htaccess file so that you do not allow certain domains to access your sites. Here's an example of editing:

RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} semalt\.com [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} 100dollars\-seo\.com [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} best\-seo\-solution\.com [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} buttons\-for\-your\-website\.com [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} forum69\.info [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} buttons\-for\-website\.com [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ranksonic\.com [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} 7makemoneyonline\.com [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} sharebutton\.net [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} sitevaluation\.org [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} dailyrank\.net [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} videos\-for\-your\-business\.com [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} semaltmedia\.com [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} best\-seo\-offer\.com [NC]
RewriteRule .* - [F]

Referral spam affects many of us more or less and is not a problem to ignore.

Keep in mind that you can not block a ghost spammer by rules added to files like .htaccess or robots.txt, or by other rules introduced through WordPress plugins, but you can clean your reports using Google Analytics filters.