Surge in referral spam (and some tips for stopping it)

5 comments

Have you noticed a surge in referral visits to your website lately? When you try to track them down, does it only lead to confusion? Maybe you've gotten a warning about self-referrals from a domain you don't even own.

I've noticed a surge in this lately and the culprit is none other than referral spam. The top answer on http://webmasters.stackexchange.com/questions/78582/interpreting-full-referrer-in-google-analytics gives a very thorough explanation of referral spam, though I've provided a more condensed version below:

What is referral spam and how does it work?Essentially, a website will find a domain (possibly yours) that uses a public analytics platform. Then, they will send fake visits to your website. Then, the analytics platform will record it as a referral and provide a link back to that website. Shady stuff.

Why is this bad for you?Your referral data is inaccurate! You're looking at more traffic than you're actually getting and if you're unaware of the referral spam, you may make a poor decision as a result.

How to fix itThe best way is using a hostname filter. Ohow has a nice guide for setting one of those up. Alternately, you can filter your traffic (in Google Analytics anyway) so this doesn't appear. It is a less accurate fix, but it will let you see more accurate data with fairly low effort.

Is your website experiencing referral spam? Do you have any methods for combating it?

Comments

How is this new to anyone?

How is this new to anyone? This has been happening for years and years.

hmmm, of course but I think that it is more visible in tracking

I think the reason why this is coming up again recently is due to a well...uninteneded impact of the google analytics univeral tracking code... the new universal tracking code automatically allows for cross domain tracking...one of the things that i'm seeing in a bunch of my accounts is a ton of referral spam...what i think is happening is that scrapers are grabbing the tracking code and sessions to the scraper site are being reported in my GA... something that was impossible before...anyhow, i'm definitely not a GA guru... but there is defintely some serious weirdness in referral reports ...and this is across a number of accounts...

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Phantom

It's possibly due to the availability of open source crawlers that can execute JavaScript. In the old days, getting Google Analytics to execute JavaScript would require a bit more skill. Now you can just use a headless browser.

 

If it's really out of control, you can have your server blacklist IPs based on referrer.

 

Now a days, people start

Now a days, people start spaming of their websites because of google analytics tracking code. If they get really out of control then you may serve IPs as a blacklist. airport parking at luton

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