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Block Referral Spam in Google Analytics

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If you’ve been targeted by referral spam, fear not – this guide will come to your assistance and help you remove from your life. Unfortunately, this is a very common occurrence for today’s website owners and it belongs to the web spam category of referral spam. Of course, it isn’t a virus of any sort or does it by any means harm your website’s appearance anywhere. It does, however, quite substantially mess around with your statistics in the Google Analytics tool by entering false, inaccurate data. This should be of importance to anyone who cares about their real traffic and who wants to be up-to-date with all the information regarding their visitors, ranking, etc.

That being said, we will explain here how exactly referral spam such as operates and why it chooses to make you and other website owners its victims. Further down we will also provide you with step by step instructions as to how to get rid of referral spam in Google Analytics, and we will also mention some common mistakes people make in this same regard, which you should avoid repeating.

So, what exactly does represent and why am I a target?

As we already managed to cover, is a type of referral spam. Its main idea is to boost its own ranking in the Google search results or generate more traffic for itself by exploiting someone else’s website. Like yours, for example. What it would tend to do – and this is what is known as the ghost spam technique – is generate fake visits to your website, possibly with 100% bounce rate and virtually no session time. These visits, which will most likely be quite a few, should typically arouse the given website owner’s curiosity and prompt him or her to investigate and check this website out. And that is how they get their traffic. This technique is performed for an outrageous number of various websites across the web, and when even a small percentage of those people decide to click back on them – that is already a pretty solid amount of visitors.

  • Please note that ghost referral spam like has no adverse effects on the actual functionality of your own website, or its ranking power in search engines. The spam is merely manipulating the data fed to your google analytics and thus will only affect the accuracy of your statistics.

So, this will essentially result in your personal stats being heavily altered thanks to the presence of these non-existent visits by non-existent users. And the longer you allow to be present, the more false data will be used in generating those reports, which you rely on in order to have a realistic view of your website’s traffic and popularity. Needless to say, that view will no longer be any more realistic than the multitude of visits are. Logically, the right thing to do in order to prevent these reports from getting more distorted would be to block’s access to your site as quickly as possible.

How to avoid being an easier target for spammers and some common mistakes people make

Believe it or not, but your hosting actually plays a role in your potential susceptibility to referral spam like The price you pay for hosting is not to be underestimated; you really get your money’s value in this sense. So, if you are using some cheap hosting at the moment, it could be wise to upgrade to some better established, reputable hosting company. They are likely to be more successful in preventing spam invasion through newer, updated spam barriers. Another possible way of opening hidden doors for referral spammers are extensive affiliate marketing campaigns. Whereas these are probably a necessity for your business, you should see to it that you are equipped with proper anti-spam settings.

A very widespread tactic people use in hopes of shielding themselves from and other such spam is turning to the Referral Exclusion List. It’s a tool many commonly regard as appropriate for dealing with these sorts of issues, but in the end they manage to cause themselves even more damage with it. Let us explain:

You add your problem-causing referral to the Referral Exclusion List, after which Google Analytics will unsuccessfully try to find the source of the traffic. Thus, the tool will stop recognizing as referral spam and register the visits as legitimate traffic. What you will end up looking at is an insanely inflated statistic, even more messed up than it was before. Therefore, please keep in mind that the Referral Exclusion List is a great tool – just not for this purpose.

Block referral spam

Step 1

Navigate to your Google Analytics account. Then follow this path:

Admin => Filters => Add New Filter

Admin Filters in Google Analytics

Step 2

Input as a Filter Name. For a Filter Type select Custom. In Filter Field => Campaign Source.

Filter Pattern => Type => Save.

Filter Set-Up

Step 3

Locate your .htaccess file and edit it by adding the following lines of code:

RewriteEngine on

# Options +FollowSymlinks

RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} [NC]

RewriteRule .* – [F]

Save your changes. Note that it will probably take 24 hours before you can ascertain whether your problem is fixed completely.

Additional note:

If your server starts returning a “500 Internal Server” error then it means that your server isn’t configured for FollowSymlinks in ‘httpd.conf‘. If that happens you can uncomment the line by removing the # in front of Options +FollowSymlinks.

If you run into any trouble do not hesitate to contact us!


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