While browsing through Google Analytics many people may find they are receiving traffic from sites that have no relation to their own. After researching these domains they find out the site is a spammy site that they no longer want to see within their Google Analytics reports. This data can skew reports and overall looks bad for reports to clients or management teams.
How does this happen? A majority of the time this is done by bots, now there’s much more to the back end of this fake traffic, but for the sake of this article we will keep it simple. These bots crawl the page, register it as a visit, then bounce of the page. This shows within a site’s analytics, catches the user’s attention, then the user visits the page. The site will typically try to sell the user a service (often related to traffic or SEO) or bombard the user with more spam or ads.
Let’s get it removed so it’s no longer showing and the data can be more accurate.
1) Log into the analytics account, navigate to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels > Referral. Here a list of the referral sites that provided the most visits over a set time period. It’s helpful to sort this list by bounce rate, placing 100% at the top. Now sorting through the list is a bit more manageable.
2) Identifying spammy domains can be a bit difficult, however, users quickly notice what doesn’t fit. Keep in mind these sites want users to visit their page, so the best approach is not copy paste the URL into your browser. Although in some cases you’ll need to do this to get an idea what the site is. Another option is to plug the URL into Google and see what is being said about the site.
Note: Before visiting any sites make sure some type of virus or malware software is running.
3) Before we build a filter, let’s first make sure bots are being blocked. This is done by going to the Admin section > View Settings, here we will make sure the Bot Filtering box is checked. Keep in mind this won’t filter all bots, so we will take additional steps.
4) Staying in the Admin section, we’ll click on the Filters tab. In this section we can build a custom filter that will block any traffic within analytics from a set URL. Add a new filter that is ‘Custom’ under the Filter Type drop down. Select request URL from the list, and paste in the URL you would like to remove.
Note: Just adding the spam website to the “Referral exclusion list” will not block this traffic.
5) Continue to monitor your web traffic as the list of spam bots may grow. You’ll need to update your filters as new spam bots are detected.
For information on setting up analytics and blocking visit Adficient’s tracking and analytics.