Spam referrals have really started to spike in Google Analytics recently. It may look exciting because a site appears to be sending you a lot of traffic. The truth is though, it’s just spam referrals or bots hitting your Google Analytics.
A lot of bloggers have emailed me recently asking why they are getting blog traffic from very inappropriate sites. You’re not. They just use bots to ping your site and get you to click on their URL and visit their site. It’s a dirty trick and I really hope that Google cracks down on their security soon. HINT HINT Google.
Personally, the spam referrals were driving me crazy! They were a big chunk of my referral traffic, depending on the spam was 4-10% of my referral traffic:
While it was fun to have higher numbers, I want accurate numbers. I researched how to block spam referrals and found a lot of posts on the best methods. Most of them include going into your .htaccess files and setting up blockers there, or setting up filters in Google Analytics itself. I just never took the time to do it, plus I didn’t want to have to keep updating every time I was hit by a new spammer.
Luckily, I was introduced to a plugin that will do it for me (thank you Karl Peschel) . I will go as far to say that it is my favorite plugin to date.
Use the GM Block Bots plugin to remove unwanted spam referrals in Google Analytics
The GM Block Bots plugin removes known spammers from your Google Analytics statistics. Once you install the plugin, it runs in the background. There are no settings or tabs in your WordPress dashboard.
The creators, Green Mellen Media, have been great at updating the plugin when new spammers hit Google Analytics.
Make sure to update the plugin as soon as an update is available! (This is best practice for all plugins, really.)
It took a couple of days for my Analytics to bounce back, but I am so happy to have the spam out of the way so that I can see where my real traffic is coming from.
Another thing to note is that the plugin will not block ghost referrals:
This plugin only blocks them based on their http_referer, which may not catch everything. In addition, some bots are “ghost referrals” that ping Google Analytics directly (without ever visiting your site) and the only way to stop them is via filters in Google Analytics.”
Go install the plugin for yourself and get more accurate statistics.
If you do want to try blocking the spam yourself, here are a few tutorials:
- Definitive Guide to Removing Referral Spam – Analytics Edge
- How to Stop Spam Bots from Ruining Your Analytics Referral Data – MOZ
- Geek Guide to Removing Referrer Spam in Google Analytics – Optimize Smart