Saturday, July 21, 2018
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referral spam

Ever have a referral show up in your analytics that you never heard of? One that shows 20, 30, even 40 visits to your site! Sounds exciting doesn’t it!

The problem is, no one actually visited your site. Most likely, if you check your analytics and look at the bounce rate, it’ll say 100%.

It’s a spam-bot, or Referral Spam.

(Note: Just in case this makes you feel special that a spammer picked your site, I hate to break it to you, but the spammer crawls thousand, if not millions, of sites at once. :( )

What is Referral Spam

If you were to visit the site that’s listed in your analytics, you’ll run across a redirect to a site that the spammer is wishing to promote. It can be anything from online shopping and plugins for sale to adult forums full of ads.

If you decide to peruse the site, you won’t find a single link back to your site.

(Note: I recommend against visiting these sites. There’s always the chance that you could end up with a virus. If they’re willing to spam your analytics, don’t assume they’ll stop there.)

It’s simply a robot hitting your site to pump up their SEO by creating innumerable amounts of backlinks.

Basically, a robot simply picks up your Analytics ID number and communicates to Google that they visited your site.

Why Should I Care?
Beyond the fact that it completely skews your metrics to the point where your bounce rate can become a joke, there’s also the possibility that it can demote your search engine ranking and even cause you to be blacklisted from Google.

However, I have been told that the demotion will only occur if the referral spam pops up in your log files or database backup and that information is made available to the public.

I must note, I’m not a technical guy. I do my research and make my choices based on that.

Resources
I was going to put together a tutorial of how to block a specific spam referrer, but I realized there were so many great ones already, that it made more sense to link to them. Otherwise, I’d feel like I was plagiarizing!

1. Ohow
Pretty much anytime a new spammer shows up in my analytics and I Google how to fix it, Ohow is always within the first three links in the results. Here are a few links to specific spammers.

social-share-buttons/simple-share-buttons

adult sites

addons.mozilla.org

theguardlan.com

2. Analytics-Toolkit.com

Analytics-Toolkit put together a great post on explaining how referral spam works and how to fix it. The example they use is semalt and darodar, both of which hit some websites pretty hard a couple of months back.

3. Incapsula

Incapsula, a service used to maximize their clients speed and security, put together a post describing how bad Semalt actually is. I haven’t seen it pop up in my analytics since I blocked the last known referrer, but that doesn’t mean their name hasn’t changed.

It’s an SEO tool that even had an “unsubscribe form” on their site if you wanted to stop being hit by their spam-bots. The funny thing is, if you filled out that form, it actually increased the amount of spam hits you got. A very good read.

4. WordFence

WordFence, a wordpress security plugin, put together a short read on how Spam Referrers can effect your search engine rankings. They also provided a tool you can use to check whether a URL is considered “suspicious” or not.

5. Raven Tools

If you’re looking to block the spam before it has a chance to even register on your site, Raven Tools put together this post explaining a few different techniques you can use.

Conclusion

Originally,  I was going to write a more motivational post this week, but each time I opened up my analytics I kept coming across these spammers.

I figured that, chances are, I’m not the only one.

If you only check out one site in the above provided links, I do recommend Ohow. Each time a new Spam Referrer pops up, they seem to work pretty quickly to put together a tutorial. Also, if you don’t see one you’re looking for, let them know, and they’ll put one together for you.

Please share your thoughts and experiences with this kind of problem in the comments below. Know of any other great links or perhaps you wrote a post on it? Please share :)

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