Whether you know what referral spam is or not, if you have a website, there is a 99% chance it is affecting you. It is nothing that you are doing wrong. It does not mean that your website has been hacked, or that you have a virus. Referral spam is its own entity and until now, it has been virtually unstoppable.
So what is referral spam, you ask.
Basically, these spammers are visiting your site, and thousands of others, but they are not “true visitors”, the type who are genuinely searching for you, your product, and your company. Why this affects you, is that it can drastically distort and inflate your Google Analytics reports. When you see that 1000 people visited your site last month, the real number of genuine visits may be closer to half that, or even less!
You may be wondering how visiting your website can profit these spammers. Essentially, when you, or anyone for that matter, visits a website, you leave behind your domain. This is what appears in Google Analytics reports, showing how many people have visited your site, and from where. That way you can go to their domain and see who’s checking you out. It is these reports that allow you to track your conversion rates. Now, when you (and a thousand of others) click on one of these spam domains, you are directed to their page. In this way, these guys get TONS of exposure and traffic to their site, which even leads to clicks and purchases.
We have been searching high and low to find a fix to clean up our clients Google Analytics reports that doesn’t take hours and days setting up filters and segments. Finally, we have found some great recourses to help you clean up that spam once and for all!
Finally, we have found some great recourses to help you clean up that spam once and for all!
The first step is to set up a filter that will begin to filter out the referral URLs that have been identified as spam (examples: get-free-social-traffic.com, floating-share-buttons.com, rankings-analytics.com, and there are over 80,000+ referral spam domains and counting). The guys over at Search Commander Inc., have created a tool that will automatically create the filters in your google analytics account for you.
All you have to do is click on the Initialize button on their Google Analytics Referral Spam Tool. This will prompt you to connect your GA account, allow you to select your site from your account. This can be done multiple times if you have many websites on your GA account.
Next, you will need to create a custom segment if you would like to also remove the spam from showing in your current data. The filter will not be able to remove the data prior to importing the filter. So, if you want to look back on your previous data, minus the spam, you need to use a Segment.
You can import this pre-built Segment from the GA solutions gallery. This segment will take care of splitting the spam domains from your previous data so that you can look at your site history and see your pure results.
Once you have the spam cleaned up from your Google Analytics reports you can start to analyse the real data and see where your traffic is coming from, what marketing efforts are making a difference on your traffic and how well your site is converting leads into customers.
For more help with setting up your Google Analytics Reports for your website contact us for a quote.