Semalt Expert Knows How To Remove Referral Spam From Google Analytics

Referral spam continues to pop up despite Google providing an official solution. The update targets special referral links that include unpredictable, free-video-tool, keywords-monitoring-success and rank-checker. However, executing hostname filter is the best solution that should be considered before any other technique.

Thus, Ivan Konovalov, the Customer Success Manager of Semalt, highlights in this article dangers of referral spam and how users can deal with such links.

According to internet experts, referral spam is the act of sending bogus traffic to a product or site. This might sound harmless, but it is turning into a serious internet issue.

Kinds of Referral Spam

In the Google Analytics context, there are two main types of referral spam: ghost and spammy web crawlers.

Spammy crawlers are robots which visit sites with a goal of indexing content. Most spammy web crawlers use identities of webservers. Hence they are left out of analytic reports. Nevertheless, some spammy crawlers do not appear as robots, and therefore they end up in Google analytics reports as sessions with 0-second duration and 100% bounce rate. Recently, Google introduced a feature used to filter out known as spiders and bots although it is not perfect.

Ghost referral traffic is arguably the greatest of the two referral spam. This spam does not visit a site. Instead, spammers exploit the idea that Google analytics transfers data through HTTP requests directly into servers of Google analytics which implies that a hacker can easily "spoof" a session. Additionally, Ghost referral traffic is generated by programs which send fake HTTP requests targeting some Google analytics properties such that a site does not experience traffic. Also, experts maintain that ghost traffic can be used in spoofing organic search results as well as sending false events.

Negative Impacts of Referral Spam

Referral spam compromises web analytics data for a website. The "sessions" that enter through referral spam skew information by inflating traffic volume and accuracy of engagement of metrics. Users unaware of spam may attribute decisions on inaccurate data and lack of traffic.

There are multiple options of removing referral spam within Google analytics.

Filter Spammy Crawlers and Exclude Foreign Hostnames

Most ghost referrals are characterized by inaccurate hostname attribution. For example, while reviewing Google analytics referral data, ghost referrals present hostnames that are completely irrelevant to the site. Therefore, this knowledge helps site owners to create filters that allow information with accurate hostnames. Moreover, this solution is more relevant for Google analytics users with a handful of domains. In most cases replacing top domain name of a site is sufficient. In the case of multiple domains, regular expressions should be checked with Regex Pal. This type of filter can remove any type of ghost referral traffic. An additional filter, however, is required to eliminate web crawlers because they visit a website and report accurate hostnames.

Filter all Sources of Referral Spam

It applies in situations where domains change easily in a measured view. The filter thus should be more exhaustive to encompass all offending referral websites.

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