Noticed a spike in fake referrer traffic on Google? You’re one in many

Posted by Osaze Osoba | December 16, 2016 | Website Optimization, Agency Tips, SME Tips, Analytics
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If you’ve been using Google Analytics for a while, you’ve probably had to deal with fake traffic at some point. They come and go, and every now and again, you find a fix on the public web. But the most recent traffic spikes have become a bit more hilarious and simply annoying in some cases.

You know how you just started a blog and you’re really scurrying for traffic day and night and trying to push out good content. And then one day you check analytics and see a huge spike and you’re like YES! Then you check the source and its from referral with the referrer being “Secret.ɢ You are invited! Enter only with this ticket URL. Copy it. Vote for Trump!” You practically die inside like twice.

Here’s a screenshot from my dashboard with the same issue. This is from the language breakdown section

analytics fake

And this is from my referrer traffic breakdown.

analytics fake 2


You’d notice the referrer URL on the second image is so bold as to say “fake” in the URL, just so much courage on the trolls part.

This can become a major issue for people who do not look deep into analytics data to check exactly where their traffic sources originate from. Especially because it inflates numbers and provides a false illusion of success.

This is done in several ways to deceive webmasters into thinking they need to visit these referrer URLs. In which case, the attacker might actually generate some traffic from this, or use it as a phishing site. According to an article on Marketing Land

Some attackers generate ghost visits without even sending a bot to your site. The attacker just needs to run the Google Analytics tracking JavaScript to ping the Google Analytics data collection servers with fraudulent information.

So be careful before you open that referring URL to check who the source of that traffic might be.

Getting rid of fake traffic on Google Analytics

Although this is not a one step process, I’d walk you through the easiest filter to setup on your analytics profile. Which is the language filter.

Looking for a fix for Google Analytics spam traffic on your dashboard? Check out this post for a simple fix!Click To Tweet

Step 1 – Go to admin

Click on the admin menu on the navigation bar of your analytics account. Select a view that isn’t the “All website data” view. If you don’t have any other one, you should create a “Filtered data” view. This is best practice because filters, once applied, cannot be revoked to bring back the data they excluded from your view.

Step 2 – Create a filter

Create a new filter and use “Custom filter” against predefined. Then fill out like I have below. The filter pattern is \s[^\s]*\s|.{15,}|\.|,

analytics fake

Once you do this, click on the “Verify filter” button just below to confirm that your filter works. Here’s a screenshot of mine.

analytics fake

Once you have confirmation, go ahead and save this.

Like I mentioned before, this is n’t an exhaustive list, but its a simple first step. To get a detailed post on how to deal with Google Analytics spam referrers, check out these three posts

If you run into any trouble doing this, be sure to drop a comment below, we’d be more than happy to help.


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Osaze Osoba
About The Author

Osaze Osoba

Osaze is an engineer by design, but he bailed for Marketing. Probably one of the only guys you know who'd insure his laptop. He's that much of a geek, but he denies it. He also loves scientific advertising and trains a lot.

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