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Google Analytics Referral Spam And How To Fix It

Written by Digital Impact Solutions on September 8, 2015
Google Analytics is under attack!! And it is destroying your valuable data.
Over the last 6 months we have been noticing a significant increase in spammers ruining clients Google Analytics data through a process called referral spam.


As you can see from the image above, a significant amount of traffic is coming from suspect places.

The main culprits are:-
 
  • floating-share-buttons.com
  • success-seo.com
  • buttons-for-website.com
  • www.event-tracking.com
  • get-free-social-traffic.com

These sites can add an extra 70% of artificial visitors to your site making data analysis almost impossible.
 

Why Are They Spamming My Site?


In one short answer Traffic! They use this blanket spam as a way for you to click through to the site and in one way it’s a crazy annoying way of lead generation. I don’t really understand how annoying people has ever made a sale for anyone but hey that’s not the main concern here. The main concern is how they are not only causing your analytics data to be corrupted but also putting undue stress on your site’s server and bandwidth.
 

Will It Hurt My Site’s Rankings?


Well probably not. They do have an effect on a sites bounce rate (a measure of how many people visit your site and leave by the same page) but to be honest Google is wise to this and is already looking for a way to solve the issue.
 

What Can I do?


While we wait for Google to fix this an issue, there is a number of steps you can take to block the unwanted visits to your site. Depending upon your experience and confidence in dealing with your websites files, will influence the solution you take.

Referral Exclusion List

******** update *******

As rightly pointed out by Mike below in the comments section, using the referral exclusion list may not be the best method. This will simply shift the referral traffic to direct traffic in your Google Analytics. To read more about this see the post by Analytics Edge
 

Filter Via Google Analytics


A very helpful post by Jared Gardner on filtering data from analytics is great for removing historical data as the above method will only remove future visits and old data will still be corrupt. Most of the offending visits seem to be coming from countries such as Russia, Brazil and Indonesia.

To do this first go Google Analytics and Admin and click new view. This is important as you will still have an unfiltered view with all traffic should you need it.



Then click on new view and call it referral bot’s or something to describe the filter. The label doesn’t actually matter.



Now click on New Filters



 Select New Filter and chose another name you will remember. Click “Custom” under select view type, Select “Country” and filter field. Do This for all offending countries



You could also select “bot filtering” and select “Exclude all hits from known bots and spiders” and save.


 

HTACCESS


Of course this blocks them from being report but doesn’t actually stop them from visiting your site and putting pressure on your server. If you truly want them to be blocked from visiting, you will need to edit your sites HTACCESS. (Please note this an advance feature). If you aren’t comfortable with your sites structure and FTP access do not attempt this as you could cause your entire site to go offline or report errors. The method I use here is for those using APACHE servers. Simply add the commands to the htaccess file using the sites you want to block, save it and upload it. Please note if even one character is out of place here you could send your entire site offline

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://.*ilovevitaly\.com/ [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://.*ilovevitaly.\.ru/ [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://.*ilovevitaly\.org/ [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://.*ilovevitaly\.info/ [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://.*iloveitaly\.ru/ [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://.*econom\.co/ [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://.*savetubevideo\.com/ [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://.*kambasoft\.com/ [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://.*buttons\-for\-website\.com/ [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://.*semalt\.com/ [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://.*darodar\.com/ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ – [F,L]
 
Hopefully Google will come up with a way to block these altogether from the Analytics report but for now you will have to block these manually to have accurate data.
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Comments

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Mike Sullivan

September 8, 2015

You should not recommend using the Referral Exclusion List...here's why:
http://www.analyticsedge.com/2015/07/why-you-should-not-use-the-referral-exclusion-list-for-spam/

Gravatar

September 8, 2015

Cheers Mike - You are indeed correct and thanks for pointing me towards the post will ammend the post now. Can I source you in the update on this at all?