Fight Referrer Spam and Ghost Referrer Spam
Referrer Spam is a rather new but annoying way of spamming. Useless referrers call your website and therefore spam your analytics data. You can see if your site is spammed if you experience an unusual rise in visitors in your Google Analytics reports. There are mainly two different types of referrer spam. On is about crawlers really visiting your site causing unwanted traffic. The other type is just random busting of Analytics IDs. Those traffic does not even your website. Your Analytics IDs is just randomly chosen.
Crawler Referrer Spam is the most traditional type of spam. It is about bots that randomly crawl the web and therefore actually visit your site. They usually ignore all rules like robots.txt or meta values. While ghost referrer spam can only be stopped with filters inside of Google Analytics, it is recommended to additionally block crawler spam via the .htaccess file as well.
Block malicious crawlers in your .htaccess
Here is how to properly block spammy crawlers in your .htaccess file. Simply add these lines on top of your .htaccess file to block most recent spam crawlers.
Note: This will not work with ghost referrer spam!
SetEnvIfNoCase Referer blackhatworth.com spam=yes SetEnvIfNoCase Referer http://blackhatworth.com/marketing/lounge/730430-apple-com-analytics-referral-traffic.html.com spam=yes SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent blackhatworth.com spam=yes SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent blackhatworth.com/marketing/lounge/730430-apple-com-analytics-referral-traffic.html spam=yes SetEnvIfNoCase Referer priceg.com spam=yes SetEnvIfNoCase Referer hulfingtonpost.com spam=yes SetEnvIfNoCase Referer semalt.com spam=yes SetEnvIfNoCase Referer bestwebsitesawards.com spam=yes SetEnvIfNoCase Referer cenoval.ru spam=yes SetEnvIfNoCase Referer buttons-for-website.com spam=yes SetEnvIfNoCase Referer darodar.com spam=yes SetEnvIfNoCase Referer o-o-6-o-o.com spam=yes SetEnvIfNoCase Referer simple-share-buttons.com spam=yes SetEnvIfNoCase Referer lomb.co spam=yes SetEnvIfNoCase Referer lombia.co spam=yes SetEnvIfNoCase Referer econom.co spam=yes SetEnvIfNoCase Referer kambasoft.com spam=yes SetEnvIfNoCase Referer lumb.co spam=yes SetEnvIfNoCase Referer 7makemoneyonline.com spam=yes SetEnvIfNoCase Referer ranksonic.info spam=yes SetEnvIfNoCase Referer savetubevideo.info spam=yes SetEnvIfNoCase Referer see-your-website-here.com spam=yes SetEnvIfNoCase Referer ranksonic.info spam=yes SetEnvIfNoCase Referer Iskalko.ru spam=yes SetEnvIfNoCase Referer 4webmasters.org spam=yes SetEnvIfNoCase Referer best-seo-offer.com spam=yes SetEnvIfNoCase Referer buttons-for-website.com spam=yes SetEnvIfNoCase Referer buttons-for-your-website.com spam=yes SetEnvIfNoCase Referer social-buttons.com spam=yes SetEnvIfNoCase Referer free-social-buttons.com spam=yes SetEnvIfNoCase Referer fiverr.com spam=yes SetEnvIfNoCase Referer free-share-buttons.com spam=yes SetEnvIfNoCase Referer sharebutton.to spam=yes SetEnvIfNoCase Referer best-seo-solution.com spam=yes Order allow,deny Allow from all Deny from env=spam
Ghost referrer spam
This type of referrer spam is more complex. It is called ghost spam, cause the referrer-servers never actually visit your site. Those spam bots just take your analytics ID (or even guess it randomly) and use it to spam your account with false data. So you even might find websites as your top pages in your account that basically do not even exist (at least they were not intended to exist). They use the Google Measurement Protocol, which allows developers to send data directly to Google Analytics Servers. This is a major flaw in Google Analytics and urgently needs to be fixed.
Here is a way to fix it for now. The idea is to simply allow data ONLY from hostnames where your Google analytics ID is actually really used. This should be default! And I really don’t get Google for not implementing a basic fix for all analytics users. The problem with this solution is just that you have to manually create those filter for any of your analytics properties. This can be a pain in the hand.
Block bad referrer hostnames from spamming your statistics in Google Analytics with filters
First of all you should enable Google Analytcs basic anti spam mesaures to exclude known spam bots from affecting your statistics:
- Open your Google Analytics acount and visit the settings area of the affected property
- Check the option that reads „block known spam bots“
To remove the ghost referrer spam for future visits you need to first get a list of valid hostnames for the affected property and put it into the following REGEX format. If your domains are example.com and example1.net just put these like:
Note: You dont need to add subdomains like „www.“
Then add a filter with that REGEX:
- Visit the „Admin“ tab and select the View where you want to apply the filter
- Select „New Filter“
- Select „Create New Filter“
- Select „Custom“ as „Filter Type“
- Choose Include and select „Hostname“ from the dropdown
- Finally, paste the REGEX that you build with your valid hostnames in Filter Pattern.
Note: This only works for future data! If will not clean your historical data!
More technical information about this topic:
- Important technical information about referrer and ghost referrer spam
- What is referrer spam
- Learn more about referrer spam.