A couple of days back I was checking analytics of my new client. The website was gaining a very high referral traffic. It made me excited. I visited insights deeper. What I found, there was 80% referral spam traffic. I was shocked!!
Stressed?? You don’t need to worry, it happens with almost every website. We can fix it.
Once you take steps to remove this spam traffic, your analytics will show you actual reports to execute your marketing strategy more efficiently. It will also help you take strong decisions.
Let’s start with how to identify spam; later we will learn about fixing.
What is Referral Spam Traffic?
As I mentioned, referral spam traffic is basically spam website hits.
In this screenshot, the website is getting new sessions from some weird website (look at the bounce rate).
Google analytics is very useful and user-friendly. It is also very important to analyze your website performance. There are lots of awesome ways to use google analytics, eliminate referral spam traffic is one of them.
Let’s start, how to examine referral spam traffic.
Log into GA and click on Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals in sidebar appearing on left hand.
To find spam traffic is very easy. In below screen look at the bounce rate and time. Bounce rate will be 100% and timing of session will be 0 minutes 0 seconds. This is the identification of spam traffic.
All the hits with 100% bounce rate and 0:00:00 session duration marked as spam traffic.
This is exactly spam traffic that you need to flush out. Now you are going to learn how to exhaust this butt pain to execute a marketing strategy for a better ROI.
Step 1: Dispose of this Existing Spam
The first step to remove spam traffic from your analytics is to create a custom segment.
Go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels
After clicking conditions, you will see a box
Hit or button and you will see other options to add condition
Make sure the dropdowns are also set to “Host Name” and “Matches Regex”.
Now copy this string to the 2nd text box.
Hit “or” button again, and paste this string
Hit “or ” button one more time and paste the below string
Make sure, first drop-downs are set to “hostname” and “match regex”.
You can apply this filter to any time frame and view. It will remove your existing spam traffic.
Next, we will learn to avoid future spam.
Step 2: Add Filters to Block Referral Spam Traffic
As we know we can add filters to Google Analytics and can view reports as per need.
Today we will use filters to block sites leads to spam traffic. By adding this filter fake hits will no longer appear.
Spam traffic will not appear for sites blocked in this filter. In future, if spam traffic comes from any other site, then you have to update filter. So always try to update the filter on monthly basis.
Never apply filter to your Master View. Always create a new view to apply any changes to keep your data safe.
Navigate to admin panel, appear on left-hand sidebar on the bottom. This admin panel gives you whole access rights to access Google Analytics. You can make changes as per your need.
When you click on admin, a window will appear. On right-hand site click on “All Website Data” and select create a new view.
Firstly you have to identify the websites generating spam traffic to your site.
Go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals and sort results by bounce rate by click on bounce rate column.
Collect all these fake websites in a text document.
Now, time is to block these fake domains. Once you have compiled all these fake domains (with 100% bounce rate and 0:00:00 session duration).
Navigate to Admin Panel and click on “Filter” tab under Account Settings. Click on +Add Filter.
Now enter the spam domains in Filter Pattern” you have compiled. There is a specific way to enter domains.
Write your Spam Domain Name Here\.
If you want to block more than one domain than pattern will look like
Spam Domain 1\.|Spam Domain 2\.
While adding spam domain to filter, each domain starts with | (except first) and ends with \.
After adding all spam domains scroll down and you will see a box of “Apply Filter to Views”. Select Test View (we create a new view in starting, or you can choose any view on which you wish to apply filter) and click add. And finally, click save to apply the filter.
This filter will block all the spam traffic coming from domains you have entered.
Let’s go for next technique to eliminate referral spam traffic from analytics.
Step 3: Blog Common Spam Referrals
Sometimes the source of spam traffic is well-known websites. But you can block these domains to avoid fake traffic.
You will need just four filters, and you will get the trophy. No worries, it is very easy to apply these four filters.
For first filter, navigate to Admin > All Filters > + ADD FILTER.
Like we created a new filter in the second step. Add a filter name “Common Spam Referrer Filter 1”.
Click on ‘Custom’ and make sure that “Exclude” is checked. Select “Campaign Source” under ‘Filter Field’.
In “Filter Pattern” update the below string.
Now scroll down, select the view and hit save.
For the second filter, This process is exactly same as the first filter. This time copy the below string.
For the third filter, apply this string in filter pattern
For the fourth filter, copy and paste this string
That’s all for this step. Now you have four common filters to avoid spam URL’s traffic.
Step 4: Block Third Party Traffic
This is the last step to reduce your fake traffic amount. When you get fake hits, then most of the time that referrer never even visits your site! It means your domain name never requested for a visit.
Let’s start how to identify such fake hits.
On your left sidebar Audience > Technology > Network
If your actual domain name is not visible then it is fake traffic.
To avoid this traffic, you can create a Hostname filter.
Click on Admin tab and navigating to All Filters > +ADD FILTER.
Apply filter name “Block Third Party Traffic” and click on custom.
Check “Include” and select “Hostname” under filter field drop down.
Now, you’ve effectively blocked out all third party traffic.
If you are receiving lots of dummy traffic from a specific country, then you can also block it. But it can be unhealthy for you. So wisely choose your steps.
There is not any wonderful way to eliminate your spam traffic from google analytics. Spammers always find a way for executing spamming. Google is working very hard to control spamming everywhere. As we know a thief is always smarter than cops.
Try to visit google analytics regularly and update your filters to avoid referral spam traffic. It will really help you to remove spam traffic to your website and your analytics will reflect actual data of your traffic.