Did you feel a bit of excitement last week after looking at your Google Analytics? If you had a traffic spike and thought your site was getting popular, I’m sorry to burst your bubble. You don’t have hundreds of new fans—you just have a problem with referral spam.
Referral spam is referral traffic that affects your analytics numbers. You can find it in Google Analytics by going to Acquisitions, All Traffic, and then Referrals. You might see some really big sites as your first two or three items on the list, sites that you’ve never had traffic from before.
If you try to investigate these referrals, the links are rubbish and don’t go anywhere useful. They just want you to click on a link that sends you to some malware or an ad site.
The links aren’t from any actual person linking to your site; they’re from bots spamming your site with links to make you click on them. Once you do that, you can be in big trouble.
You probably won’t be able to get rid of these robots, but that doesn’t really matter. All you need to do is to get rid of the evidence that they’re there. This is one case where hiding your problem really does make sense. If you don’t see it or click on it, the link can’t do any harm.
In Google Analytics, click on your Admin tab, and then click on All Filters. From there, click on Add a Filter, then Custom. If you want to exclude an entire website, use Campaign Source. Otherwise, use Campaign Referral Path.
Whatever method you choose, Google will no longer notice the robots’ activity, and you won’t have any more false traffic spikes. Your data will be true again, and you’ll really know what’s happening with your site.
This article was first published by StewArt Media.
Jim Stewart is a leading expert in search engine optimisation. His business StewArt Media has worked with clients including Mars, M2 and the City of Melbourne.