Stop Referral Spam from Ruining your Blog Stats

I hate to break it to you like this, but your stats may be deceiving you.

For months, visitors from sites such as floating-share-buttons.com and SEMalt.com etc have given you a nice little boost in referral traffic.

(A referral is simply a person clicking through to your website from another website, such as Facebook, Google search etc.)

But there’s a problem with the referral traffic from these sites: it’s not actually real.

It’s damn spam! And who in their right mind wants referral spam like that?!

Why am I getting analytics referral spam?

The truth is that these stats have been generated by spam referrals or spam bots pinging your Google Analytics (GA) account and not actual real people clicking through to your blog. So while it may be nice to see the extra 100 or so sessions added to your total, at the end of the day you really want accurate, real stats.

Analytics referral spam

Spamming in this way is a sneaky little trick used by a few marketers who think they are being clever.

They ping your site. You see it in your analytics. You wonder what it is and click on the URL which takes you to their website. It gives them a nice stream of traffic and gets their brand seen by who knows how many thousands of innocent GA users.

This problem has been around for a while and it’s only a drop in the ocean for larger blogs and websites, so won’t really skew analytics that much for them. But for most bloggers and small businesses, referral spam like this could incorrectly show an increase of up to 70% in referral traffic.

Though they could make it harder for the spammers, It’s not Google Analytics fault. GA is an amazing tool for seeing how much traffic you are getting, where your visitors are arriving from, tracking your blog’s growth, and then some. It’s just that some naughty marketers are out to spoil the party for everyone.

An easy way to stop referral spam

There are some great posts on how to block spam referrals. Most will tell you how to edit your site’s .htaccess file to block them. Then there are ways you can apply filters to GA so you don’t see the spam referrals in your reports.

The easiest way I’ve found to block spammers is this WordPress plugin: The GM Block Bots plugin.

It claims to block and remove known spammers from your GA account. And the best thing about it – it works!

Spam Removal in Google Analytics

Just take a look at this screen shot above. One week it’s all spam, spam, spam. The next week after having installed the Block Bots plugin – BAM! 100% reduction rate. You can’t ask for better than that!

Simply download and install the file or find and install the plugin from your dashboard. It then works in the background like your own little team of ninjas, fighting off the spammers as they attack.

If you’re not a WordPress user then you’ll have to block/remove the spam referrals manually. It’s not too difficult once you get your head around it. I’ve listed below the best posts I’ve come across that tell you how to do this:

I’d love to know if you have any alternative methods in dealing with referral spam. Especially for other blogging platforms where there may be an easier way I’ve not come across. Or are you not bothered about the extra referrals and include them in your stats? Let me know in the comments below!

6 Replies to “Stop Referral Spam from Ruining your Blog Stats”

  1. This is a very great information Peter,
    A lot of people are being deceived by this spam referral into thinking its actually a real traffic.

    Unfortunately, I’ve not really heard of a better way of blocking it so I’m going to check out the plugin you mentioned here to see what it does.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Theodore – This really is the best way I’ve found to block the referral spam, then use filters in GA to remove the ‘ghost’ referrals. Hopefully Google themselves will help us fight this issue in the near future. Thanks for the comment!

  2. Peter — Thanks for the article and for sharing our plugin. Hopefully people find it to be helpful.

    Note that there is a rising trend of “ghost referrals”, which can’t be blocked by this plugin (or any other site/server-based solution). The only way to stop those is using Filters in Google Analytics, so if you are using the plugin and stuff still keeps slipping in, look into that.

    1. Hi Mickey – thanks for taking the time to comment & thanks for the plugin.
      Yeah, those ghost referrals are a nightmare – hopefully Google will help us fight those off one way or another in the future.

    1. Hi Sandeep – Yeah it really is an issue for most bloggers, but a manageable one. If you’re a WordPress user, get that GM Block Bots plugin installed and active.
      Thanks for the comment.

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