Referral spam, organic spam and event spam is also known as ‘Ghost Spam’ and it is created by ghost visits. It affects a lot of the data you see in analytics – organic traffic, referral traffic, campaign traffic, bounce rates but it doesn’t affect your SEO. It is a frustration that many people are now struggling to deal with because there is no much of it.
Excluding these spam hostnames through filters isn’t effective because as soon as one is excluded, a new one is born. We can’t even go server-side to block them infiltrating our data using .htaccess or WordPress plugins as these will only capture some, but not all.
This spam traffic is a pest. It is injected into many Google Analytics accounts through the GA code which then gives fake hits and throws out the data. Your traffic volumes, including organic and referral traffic, as well as engagement data such as ‘time on site and ‘bounce rate’ will be affected.
The issue we have is that there are many faces to ghost spam and they change all the time, and once you have set filters with the tools available in Google Analytics, it will block the ones you can see in your data right now, it won’t be long before new streams are infiltrating. We just end up going round and round in circles.
So why isn’t Google doing anything? This constant spam backlash is a real challenge for Google but they are working on it and will eventually find a way to extract all of this junk from analytics. Whilst Google are putting up their defences, there are a few things you can do to minimise the amount of spam traffic showing in your reports, such as activating the Bot & Crawler filter, however please note, this is not capturing the most perisistent offenders such as ‘sharebutton.to’ which has many hostnames and breaks down all Google’s defences on a daily basis and has been doing so for months.
Another top tip from Analytics Edge is to change your Analytics ID:
When you create a Google Analytics Account, you also create a Property in the Account, and a View in that Property. The Property gives you the tracking id (e.g. UA-1234567-1) that you use in the code snippet on your website. You can create 50 Properties in your Account, and they are given -1, -2, -3, … -50 extensions. Most ghost referral spam hits the default ‘-1’ Property, although some are now hitting -2, and -3 properties as well.
You can significantly reduce the spam simply by creating and using a second, third or fourth (or tenth) Property. You don’t have to actually use them all. Caution: changing your tracking code on your website will leave the historical data in the old property, so this is really only useful for new websites, or if you are willing to abandon your old data.
These are just a couple of ways to help minimise the impact of spam on your data. Some analytics experts claim to have found a solution that is successful in eliminating ghost visits, and this article provides a step by step process on how to achieve this. Written by Analytics Edge http://help.analyticsedge.com/spam-filter/definitive-guide-to-removing-google-analytics-spam/