Twelve times a year, once a month, like clockwork, we send our clients SEO reports. Each of these reports serves a different purpose, and one of them is devoted to showing clients trends for different traffic metrics, such as sessions, page views, average session duration, bounce rate, referrals from search engines, and more. However, in order to send accurate data, we have to filter out referral spam (also known as referrer spam). This useless data can cloud your site analytics, making it difficult for you to spot the truth amongst so much pseudo traffic. If accurate reporting is important to you (and I think it’s safe to assume it is!), removing referral spam in Google Analytics is absolutely essential.
Removing Referral Spam in Google Analytics
First, before we dig into the specifics, let’s discuss what referral spam is exactly. This frustrating technique is used by spammers who wish to improve their own site’s ranking. To achieve this, the spammer makes repeated web site requests using a fake referer URL to the spammer’s site. The targeted sites (assuming they publish their access logs) will then link back to the spammer’s site, and those links will be indexed by Google’s spiders. So while the spammer’s site is benefiting from the free links, the site they targeted (while unharmed) will have polluted statistics.
WHY WE FILTER OUT REFERRAL SPAM IN GOOGLE ANALYTICS
Referral spam congests analytics data and makes marketing analysis a nightmare. If you don’t want your legitimate traffic to suffocate, you need to eliminate referral spam. Additionally, the unwanted and useless traffic can overload your servers, slowing load times, increasing bounce rates, and lowering your site’s rankings. Finally, we know that our clients are often perplexed by the useless data. We don’t want to waste your time, so we filter it out of our SEO reports for your convenience.
HOW WE FILTER OUT REFERRAL SPAM IN GOOGLE ANALYTICS
Luckily, it’s easy to filter out these impersonations of referral links. There are several methods available for blocking pesky spammers, such as deflecting and blacklisting, but we prefer to filter out the misinformation. We are able to use a custom filter in Google Analytics to sift out referral spam. We create an advanced segment and then add domains that practice referral spamming to the list. This easy and effective method allows us to exclude specific spamming sites. For a more detailed tutorial on how this is done, please check out this excellent tutorial.
Referral spam is becoming more of a problem all the time. In fact, it might be clogging up your analytics and slowing down your servers at this very moment!
We care about providing our clients with accurate data, and we know that that wouldn’t be possible without removing referral spam in Google Analytics. In filtering out this spam, we benefit our clients in numerous ways—cleaning up your marketing analysis, preventing overloaded servers, potentially increasing your site’s ranking—but most importantly, we’re able to provide you with precise, error-free, and uncontaminated SEO reporting. You’re very welcome!
Hoping to get a leg up with Google and other search engines? Check out 417 Marketing, an online marketing company based in Springfield, Missouri, that specializes in SEO and web design. Click here to contact us and learn more about what we can do for your company.