Referrer spam can really mess up your website analytics reports by counting visits to your website that didn’t really happen. We hope our two-part series will help you understand what it is and how you can eliminate it from your website statistics and traffic reports.
Referrer spam happens when spammers make repeated website requests using fake referrer URLs to your website. Your website analytics reporting will look like the spammer is visiting or linking to your website but that is not the case. These fake visits can really mess up your website stats reporting making it look like you’re getting more visits/referrals than you actually are.
The most common type is called “Ghost Spam” because there’s no visit or interaction with your website at all. The spammer targets your website analytics service (like Google Analytics), sometimes several times a week. Another type is “Crawler Spam.” Crawler Spam also targets sites but with a slightly different purpose in mind. One purpose may be to get people to click on their link to increase their own website traffic or another may be to get people to visit their website to buy something.
You’ll find spam in different channels of your reporting like:
We’ll show you how to check your website statistical data for referral spam using WCMS’ Google Analytics account.
Step 1: Once you’re logged in, click on Network under the Audience/Technology section.
Step 2: Click on Host Name. The red arrows mark our URL and correct host name. All others listed, including “not set,” is referrer spam.
Step 3: Go to Acquisition, expand All Traffic, click on Channels.
Step 4: Click on Referral
Step 5: Review the referral traffic noting how much traffic is coming in from other URLs than your own. You can see how this affects our website traffic stats when you note that for this specific date, only 38 visits were legitimate visits to our website.
Following these steps should help you understand whether or not your website analytic reports are being affected by referrer spam. If you have questions or comments, please share them below.
Check back for Part 2 (coming soon) as we go through the steps to eliminate the spam from our analytic reports.