How to: Filter Out Referral Spams in Google Analytics

 
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If you use Google Analytics, you probably know what referral spams are; and even if you don't, you probably have seen them. What are referral spams?

Referral spams are fake referral traffic created by spam bots.

You know what's the most annoying thing about referral spams? Google Analytics records them as referral traffic and totally messes up your analytics data! Basically, you think you've been linked to and are getting traffic #yay... but I'm sorry to break it to you that you're so very wrong! (I was, too, when I first met those sons of b*#!@%s!) 😁

Here are a few of them that you might remember from you Google Analytics report:

  • semalt.com
  • buttons-for-website.com
  • buttons-for-your-website.com
  • simple-share-buttons.com
  • ilovevitaly.com (.ru)
  • top1-seo-service.com
  • justprofit.xyz
  • make-money-online.7makemoneyonline.com

Why would anyone send referral spams?

That's an interesting question. There are different reasons for this type of spamming - like any other type of spamming, really... like:

  1. They want you to link back to them. You might not do it, but many other less aware webmasters might do.
  2. They want you to visit their websites to investigate and earn free traffic.
  3. While visiting their websites, they might infect you with malwares.
  4. They might be hired by a competitor to mess you up in the ways discussed in next section.

Why should you care about filtering referral spams?

Well, the first and most obvious reason would be that they mess up you analytics data. If you're running a huge website with hundreds of thousands of hits in a months, who cares about two hundred hits, right? But if you're running a personal blog or a website for a local business that usually gets a thousands hits per month, a few hundred is about half your hits! So they matter!

The second reason would be that although they are just bots, they use your server resources for something basically useless or even harmful. That might cause overloaded server, higher page load time and maybe even lower rankings.

Furthermore, who knows what else these bots are doing crawling your website, right? Content scraping, email address harvest, spreading malware, etc...

What to do with referral spams?

Well, I was going to do a step by step tutorial to teach you how to manually setup filters to exclude these referral spams in Google Analytics, but then I found an easier way, so let's not make it more complicated than it should be, right?

You can use ReferrerSpamBlocker.com. It will automatically setup filters in you GA account and stops your from worrying about it - and it's FREE! Also, if you're a WordPress user, you can use SpamReferrerBlock plugin to filter the traffic using their blacklist.

This post ended up being easier that I thought! #yay

If you found it useful, please share it - because analytics numbers matter.