- What user demographics are visiting your site
- How they are reaching your site
- What pages on your site are performing well or badly
Before We Continue: Get Two Free Google Analytics Bonus Guides + 5 Custom ReportsGoogle Analytics can be complicated enough without worrying about spam. Once you've filtered out all the junk from your account, learn how to leverage it for success with these free resources:
- Five Questions About Your Site Google Analytdics Can Answer: Learn how Google Analytics can help you better understand your site's performance.
- Write Smarter Content With Google Analytics: Learn how to write content your audience wants, backed by real data.
- Best Times Google Analytics Custom Reports: Get pre-built one-click dashboards to help you identify the best times to post on social media, send email, and more.
How to Crush Google Analytics Spam in 2017Click To Tweet
How Does Analytics Spam Work & Why Would Anyone Bother?There are several types of spam that affect Google Analytics but by far and away the most popular is referral spam, sometimes referred to as ghost spam, as often it never actually reaches the affected website. Apart from the contamination of statistics, luckily this spam technique never actually harms the affected sites. Referral spam is the process that spammers use where they utilize web spiders or bots to send one or more fake hits to a Google Analytics account (a hit can take the form of anything from a page view to a transaction). The spammers will target thousands of websites per day, presumably at random, so don’t be lead to believe that you or your agency has committed an SEO crime which has plagued you with this problem! In some cases, advanced spammers can make bots read your Google Analytics script that is embedded on your web page. They will then extract your unique Property ID, add it to their database and continually spam your site, making it look like they have sent huge amounts of referral traffic to your site and putting them top of your referral list in Google Analytics. Sneaky. "Okay, I get it so far, but why would anyone bother to create Google Analytics spam?" I hear you ask. Well, apart from the pure fun of it, there are a number of reasons people are doing this:
- Generate traffic of their own. Arguably the main reason for referral/ghost spam. Not only are spammers inflating and blemishing your traffic stats, they are also increasing their own through people’s natural curiosity to click their links and it’s reported that they are in fact increasing sales with this tactic. Whether they redirect the link to a site where they are selling physical products or services or simply taking you to sites covered in ads, the additional traffic is profitable
- Get commission. Affiliates often get commission through increasing traffic statistics and this is an easy way for corrupt sites to do so
- Propaganda. Believe it or not, some users are even creating referral spam to spread their own personal political beliefs and propaganda. The most notorious case being the pro-Trump spam spread by Russian spammer Vitaly Popov.
Could spammers be trying to spread malware in your #Google #Analytics account? Find out (and fight back):Click To Tweet
Know the Different Types of Google Analytics Spam Out There (& How to Prevent Them)Google Analytics spam comes in different shapes and forms. Here are some common varieties to be aware of.
Referral SpamReferral Spam is the main method here and one we’ve touched on already. It started a few years ago with the main culprits being sites such as "semalt" and "buttons-for-websites" and now it’s rare to see an analytics account that doesn’t have "abc.xyz", "free-traffic.xyz" or "ilovevitaly.com" as a referrer. How can you stop it? One of the first suggestions that surfaced on forums, social media and SEO news sites was blocking the related URL’s through your .htaccess file in the root directory of your domain.
How to Block Spam Bots in .htacessThis method involves copy and pasting a bunch of code into your site and can be dangerous when done incorrectly as the .htaccess file is extremely important and defines how your server behaves. Entering the code incorrectly can take down the whole site so exercise this technique with extreme caution. If you do feel skilled enough at having a go at this method then check out this handy guide on blocking spam bots in .htaccess. Although in a lot of cases this works, as mentioned previously, most of the bots now do not even visit the website rendering blocking their URL in your .htaccess useless. It’s also extremely time-consuming to block all the URL’s, especially as there are new ones seemingly popping up every day. There must be a better solution…
Filtering Spam Bots with Custom Filters in Google AnalyticsUtilizing Custom Filters was the most effective workaround to the Google Analytics referral spam problem for a long while and it’s still a handy solution to know. It’s a much easier method to implement than blocking spam domains through .htaccess and you don’t need any coding skill. The only potential hazard here is filtering the wrong set of data and further polluting your data by entering the correct filter string. Follow the guide below and you won’t have any problems: Step 1: Head over to your Google Analytics profile and click Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals: Step 2: Sort Referral Traffic by Bounce Rate: And make sure that you’ve set the timeframe to at least a couple of months: A zero or 100% bounce rate, with at least 20 sessions is a strong indicator that the referrer domain is spammy. If you’re unsure the domain you’re looking at is, in fact, spammy and you want to make sure you’re not excluding legitimate traffic sources, then you can check them against our trusted Ultimate Referral List (a 128 domain strong list of referral spammers). Step 3: What to do if you can't find the domain? If you can’t find the domain in our list or other user-generated ‘Referral Spam Domain Lists’ that you can find online, such as ...
Need to filter out spam bots in #Google #Analytics? Here's how:Click To Tweet
Referral Exclusion ListThe final method of blocking spam referral domains in Google Analytics that we’re going to look at is called the ‘Referral Exclusion List’ method and is the first solution that Google themselves have created for excluding rogue domains. The first thing that needs mentioning about this method is that it only works if you’re using the newer Universal Analytics rather than Classic Google Analytics. When Google released this new feature within Universal Analytics they highlighted two common uses for it:
- Third Party Referrals. Especially payment processors. After you have added a payment processor into your Referral Exclusion List, when a user leaves your site to the payment processor then returns to your site following a purchase, the processor won’t show as the referring domain.
- Self-Referrals. If you have several subdomains that a user may jump back and forth from you can add your own site into the exclusion list to prevent artificially inflating traffic data.
“When you exclude a referral source, traffic that arrives to your site from the excluded domain doesn’t trigger a new session.”But, this doesn’t mean that the visit has been completely removed from your Analytics data. In some cases, it has been reported that Google Analytics merely attributes the source of the visit differently, from a referral to ‘direct’ traffic. It has removed the referral spam attribution but the data can still be ruined. Again, exercise with caution! With all that in mind, here’s how to access the Referral Exclusion List and block single domains: Step 1: Head over to the Admin tab in your Google Analytics account then click Tracking Info within the Property column: Step 2: Under the ‘Tracking Info’ dropdown select ‘Referral Exclusion List’ ...then click the ‘+ ADD REFERRAL EXCLUSION’ button. Step 3: Simply add in the domains that you wish to exclude from your referral traffic. One downside to this technique is that you can’t add domains in bulk which is another reason that the filter method (mentioned previously) may be more efficient.
Language Spam & The Future of SpamJust when we thought we had it all figured, along came a brand new brand of spam ready to pollute our beautiful Analytics data once more! Towards the back end of 2016, a new wave of Analytics spam hit many accounts, Language Spam. Ever notice sentences similar to this in your Language Report on Analytics? How about these:
- o-o-8-o-o.com search shell is much better than google!
- Vitaly rules google ☆*:｡゜ﾟ･*ヽ(^ᴗ^)ﾉ*･゜ﾟ｡:*☆ ¯_(ツ)_/¯(ಠ益ಠ)(ಥ‿ಥ)(ʘ‿ʘ)ლ(ಠ_ಠლ)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)ヽ(ﾟДﾟ)ﾉʕ•̫͡•ʔᶘ ᵒᴥᵒᶅ(=^ ^=)oO
Has your site been hit by Language Spam? Here's what to do about it.Click To Tweet
Is #spam tampering with your #Google #Analytics account? Here's how to squash it.Click To Tweet