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What Are Referral Spams And How Do You Control Them?

Referral Spams

Every website owner craves for strong web traffic. Good web traffic is not only earned after lot of hard work, but also encourages you as it shows how popular your website is. But there can be fair chances that the web traffic which you website is receiving is an inflated one, all thanks to spam referral crawlers!

Before we move on to blocking and banning web crawlers, let us understand what they actually are. Usually referrals to one’s website and blogs are appreciated. Visitors from other websites, blogs refer your creations, which does contribute to better SEO. Whereas referral spam creates a kind of traffic which though regularly hits your blog has no actual link to your website. They give you 100% bounce rate and are in no way related to your site or blogs. Though Google is smart enough to differentiate between which traffic is real and which is spam, the reason why one must be bothered about this is – the spam referrals often skew your data and represent up to 30% of your traffic.

Before you start thinking of ways of changing your settings in order to block these referral spams, it is advisable that you take the following steps:

  • See to it that you have an unfiltered view in your property that has zero filters
  • Rather than implementing this in your main view, you can create a new test view which mirrors your main one – then add the filter(s).
  • If you are satisfied with the new filter based on this test, then go ahead and implement it in the main view.

Some of the major referral spam culprits can be categorized as Well behaved bots and spiders, creepy crawlers like semalt and makemoneyonline and ghost referrals like darodar/ priceg/ilovevitaly. Below are the names of some of the most common referral spams:

  • Buttons-for-website.com
  • Semalt.semalt.com
  • Make-money-online.7makemoneyonline.com
  • Forum.topic24580170.darodar.com
  • Priceg.com
  • Ilovevitaly.co

The well behaved bots and spiders are usually helpful as they discover your content and share it with others. To prevent their traffic from appearing on your web analytics, you need to go to your Google Analytics Admin section – go to each View you use and select View Settings – now check the box to exclude all hits from known bots and spiders.

Creepy crawlers on the other hand mess up with your reports. They creep around the web and take information for questionable purposes. Here you should be very cautious as to not visit the referring site, as this will invite virus or Trojan infection on your computer. Both semalt and bottons for website ate the best examples for this category. Since they come from several IP addresses, you cannot opt for blocking this traffic by IP exclusion in Analytics. Rather you can block the .htaccess files. For this you need to go to the files in the root directory on your web host that makes up your WordPress site and you should be using an Apache system.

Ghost Referrals are the latest arrivals in the family of referral spams. They are called ghost referrals as they actually never visit your site. Through the use of Google Analytics Measurement Protocol, they post fake pageviews to the Google’s tracking service. They do this by using random series of tracking IDs. The most common ghost referrals are economy.co, ilovevitaly.co, darodar.com etc. As they never actually visit your site, you will not be able to block them at the server using the above mentioned .htaccess or javascript methods. Rather you need to create filters to block them. And because they change as quickly as they appear, you will have to continuously build filters to block these ghost referrals. So you can an include filter with valid hostnames. This will surely reduce your maintenance effort. But you have to be careful while you do this or else even a valid traffic from a new hostname can be excluded in the future.

We are sure that once you follow these steps, you can surely manage your website better and have a greater control over the referral spams.


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