What’s the most annoying spam in the world? If you said referral spam we should be friends. If you have no idea what referral spam is, here’s a quick screencap from the referrals section of a Google Analytics account.
See all those lovely simple-share-buttons.com referrals. That is referral spam and I hate it.
Referral spam comes in three varieties
- Ghost Referrals
- Ghost Referrals never actually visit your site. Basically they found a loophole in the Google Analytics script that when triggered records a web hit to your Analytics account.
- Spammy Crawlers like semalt
- These are actual bots that crawl the web and scoop up data off your site. The organizations that create these bots are on the shady side and don’t typically follow the “rules” of good bot behavior.
- Well behaved bots and crawlers
- These bots crawl the web and follow the “rules”. They are typically from legitimate businesses- Like the Google Bot that crawls all your pages.
Nothing good will come from it
The reason I hate Referral spam is that it will jack up your stats when doing analysis. This typically isn’t an issue when dealing with large sites. But a small site that only gets a few hundred hits a month will make marketing analysis nearly impossible. I need to remove those “hits” from an analytics account so I’m looking at valid numbers.
Some of these referrals could expose you to malware just by visiting the site. It’s cheap xanax cod easy to envision a small business owner getting excited to see a new referral show up in Analytics and follow the link only to have unknowingly been exposed to malware.
Having a bunch of bogus crawlers on your site can also use up server resources and bog down your site.
The not so easy fix
Blogs are starting to fill up with ways to filter analytics reports. If referral spam is a problem on your site, it would be worth your time to read a few of these articles.
It would be great if Google Analytics could develop a solution for all of us. But from everything I have been reading that solution won’t be coming anytime soon. A word of advice before you go blowing up your analytics account- always make sure you have an unfiltered view of your stats. Mine typically looks like this:
That way I know I can always go back to the “raw data” and look for discrepancies in my filters.
The best way to filter these bots out is a combination of Analytics filters, blocking bots using an .htaccess file, and filtering out the valid bots from your Analytics. Unfortunately the fix is not easy and you could jack up your site or your stats in the process. So if you’re going to go it on your own have a backup plan in place if things get sideways.