Filtering Google Analytics (GA) referral spam

Google Analytics has seen a recent rise in fake traffic known as referral spam 1. This skews your stats by polluting real visitor data with links from sites that are questionable at best.

Like email SPAM it’s not easy to get rid of but there are a few things you can try.

1. Tick the “Bot Filtering” box

Analytics exclude bots checkbox

You’ll find this option in Google Analytics by clicking “Admin” in the top bar then under “View” select “View Settings”. I’ve not seen much effect by turning this on but I’m sure it cannot help.

2. Add a new segment to temporarily filter out potential SPAM referrers

Analytics segment filter

Segments in Google Analytics allow you to split out and filter visitor traffic in a way that doesn’t damage the underlying data. You can create your own segment to filter our the offending referral spam by removing keywords for the sites you’d like to remove. To get you started you can import my Segment Configuration to test out the filter for yourself.

3. Add permanent filters to stop SPAM traffic ever getting registered

If you are happy that the traffic the SPAM cleaning segment above filters out then you can add this in as a filter under “View > Filters” to get rid of future SPAM data 2. Be warned though that unlike a segment this filter is permanent and if you’re not careful you may lose real traffic data.

 

If you’ve got any other clever idea or thought on this do let me know via Twitter @benkinnaird

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1. Referrer spam involves making repeated web site requests using a fake referer URL to the site the spammer wishes to advertise. Sites that publish their access logs, including referer statistics, will then inadvertently link back to the spammer’s site. These links will be indexed by search engines as they crawl the access logs. This technique does not harm the affected sites, just pollutes their statistics.” Wikipedia.

2. I also read recommendations to block countries like Russia, Indonesia and Brazil where spam may emirate from but be careful here as this could also remove good traffic data. For a more detailed guide on referral spam including how to filter out bad data read ohow’s guide.

 

Author: Ben Kinnaird


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