Google finally removes spam referral traffic from Analytics

If you suddenly find on your Google Analytics dashboard that the traffic to your website has dropped, don’t panic. First check that Google hasn’t just removed the spam referral traffic from your Analytics results.

This may appear like you have lost traffic but, as this wasn’t real traffic anyway you shouldn’t see any impact on your website’s performance. Instead Google is just fixing a problem for you so you get better data and a clearer picture of how your website it performing. And may I just say ‘Hallelujah!’ Even if not going to work perfectly, I am glad that they have finally listened to so many users and are on the case. 

There are two types of Referral spam.  The first, as shown above, is Crawlers spam, where your website is actually visited. The second, Ghost spam, doesn’t even show as it messes with your tracking code from a different domain. Either way, it’s a pain. And the reason for it is not even that creative – spam is used to increase links to the spammers’ own website, so that when you click on their links, the traffic to those sites appears to be increasing.

Now over 500 domains that used to drive spam referral traffic to sites have been blocked. No doubt many will keep appearing and we can only hope that Google will stay one step ahead.

As it’s a very recent update, it’ll probably keep evolving for some time, but right now referral spam does show up in real time view in Google Analytics. It appears that Google Analytics is applying a filter after the fact to remove those referral spam URLs before it hits the acquisition reporting. Also, spam referral has not been removed retrospectively, so if you didn’t have any filters before Google implemented this change, it will show up in your reports.

So to ensure that these bad links and spam referrals are not impacting your google search rankings, check that your back links to your web pages are following best practice guidelines.

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