Understanding Google Analytics Spam & What Needs to be Done

Understanding Google Analytics Spam & What Needs to be Done

Its already February 2016 and Google Analytics spam is still on the rise. Nowadays, most new webmasters and site owners find irrelevant referral spams on their Google Analytics reports. The latest gush of refer spam started in the end of December 2015 and it continues to rise till now. By the end of the last year we witnessed 4 to 5 new spammers every month and the number is increasing more than that every week now with no sign of slowing down. On the other hand, the volume of ghost traffic is also increasing which means that websites having moderate traffic are also experiencing spanners in their referral reports.


Google Analytics Referral Spam


You can easily find irrelevant referral spam sources by looking at yours source/medium stats in Google Analytics. The number 1 spammer on the list in 2016 is definitely с.новым.годом.рф, while for other spammers like traffic2cash.xyz, share-buttons.xyz, social-widget.xyz etc. .xyz Top Level Domain (TLD) remains the best choice. Ghost spams like these leave a fake trail and pollute your data reports in Google Analytics. Therefore, it is important to understand what Google Analytics Spams are, how do they work and ways with which we can stop them; which we are going to cover in this article.

Types of Google Analytics Spam

Basically there are two types of Google Analytics Spams:

Bot Referral Spamming

When an actual bot visits your website and executes the Google Analytics code to register the fake referral traffic is termed as Bot Referral Spam. These bots crawl your website and send HTTP requests with fake referrer header to avoid detection. Fake referrer header includes the website URL spammer wants to promote or create backlinks. The website log server immediately record HTTP requests send by a spam bot with fake referrer header and Google treats the referrer value in server logs which influences search ranking of spammer’s website. Google uses bot filtering methods to detect whether the crawled page is actually a webpage or a log file, however, these spambots execute the javascript with avoid bot filtering which results in showing spambot traffic sources in Analytics repost.

Ghost Referral Spamming

Site traffic that is only registered by Google Analytics is termed as Ghost Referrer Spam. Instead of using bots spammers directly connect to Google Analytics servers to log the traffic over there and not visiting your website. Since Ghost Referrals do not visit your website, they are not shown in server logs.  These referrals use Google Analytics Management Protocol which allows them to post a fake pageview with unique Google Analytics code which appear in reports. The difference between spambots and ghost referrals is that the traffic from these sources never actually hit your website, but leaves a digital path that affects the Google Analytics data. Therefore in order to stop referrals ruining your data you must create filters in Google Analytics.

Stopping Google Analytics Spam

There are a numerous ways of controlling Google Analytics spamming, one way is to work on log servers which only limits bot referral spams, but doesn’t work on ghost referrals which makes it difficult to manage if you are working on multiple websites. Another approach to stop and manage GA spamming is through Google Analytics view filters. By implementing hostname you can include filters to only allow legitimate traffic and use Regular Expressions to exclude spamming referrals having particular hostname. However, the second type of filtering would require regular updates due to the number of new spammers that appear each day, and if you are maintaining multiple websites this would be really difficult and time consuming. For this reason, there a numerous auto spam filter available online which applies anti spamming filters to hundreds of web properties in no time and keep them updated with latest referral spam.



Shahrukh Saeed is a design savvy digital enthusiast focused to share latest tools, tricks & techniques of the web, digital marketing UX/UI & SEO with business startups and learn from experts in the field.

One Comment

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