Referrer Spam in Google Analytics

Referrer Spam in Google Analytics

I review my Google Analytics data monthly and noticed a spike in referrals from social-buttons.com.  Please don’t go to that site – keep reading to find out why.

Referrer Spam in action

By clicking on the link in Google Analytics I could see the referral path – meaning the page that the person clicked on to arrive on my page.

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Notice that this is just a slash (‘/’)?  According to veithen.github.io this is characteristic of referrer spam.  In very simple terms, the spammer sends a phony request to Google Analytics to report that someone viewed your page.  Your site is never accessed at all.  For those interested in an in-depth description of how this occurs, check out the article.

The Purpose of Referrer Spam

Why on earth would a spammer do such a thing?  Because they will get paid when you click on a link (or enter it into your browser) to figure out where that link came from.  Check this infographic out:

Darodar-Infosheet on Referrer Spam

How to Stop Referrer Spam

Well, actually you can’t.  You can, however filter it out in Google Analytics “by creating a filter that uses a criteria based on the Referral field” (veithen.github.io) or by overriding the page URI that is used in the Google Analytics snippet for your home page and then filtering by any Request URI field set to “/”.  The only hits with a Request URI field of “/” would be spam.  Again, check out the article here for full details.

I’m small enough that I don’t need accurate Analytics reports, but if you have advertisers or need to report to management, adjusting your Analytics filters to exclude referrer spam will give you more accurate numbers.

 

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