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Google Analytics: What Is Referrer Spam?


Google Analytics has the ability to show you how someone came to your sight (remember Direct, Organic, Paid and Referrals?). When it comes to referrals, however, there’s an annoying thing that can show up in reports: Referral spam.

Here’s one of the best definitions I’ve found: “The technique involves making repeated web site requests using a fake referrer URL to the site the spammer wishes to advertise. Sites that publish their access logs, including referrer statistics, will then inadvertently link back to the spammer's site. These links will be indexed by search engines as they crawl the access logs, improving the spammer's search engine ranking. Except for polluting their statistics, the technique does not harm the affected sites. At least since 2014, a new variation of this form of spam occurs on Google Analytics. Spammers send fake visits to Google Analytics, often without ever accessing the affected site. The technique is used to have the spammers' URLs appear in the site statistics, inducing the site owner to visit the spam URLs. When the spammer never visited the affected site, the fake visits are also called Ghost Spam.”

As mentioned, the referrer spam doesn’t necessarily harm your website. It does, however, inflate your website visitor number which can be annoying when it comes to reporting. Although rare, it can also cause server overload if there are too many spam referrals.

How do you fix it? One of the best methods is by utilizing filters in Google Analytics to filter out the URLs that are bothering you. Start by going to Admin > All Filters > New Filter, and from there you can follow Google’s detailed instructions HERE.


Referrer Spam.(2018). Wikipedia. Source: