Referrer spam: with friends like these…

You’re a photographer with a web site. One morning, you’re having that first cup, checking your site traffic in Google Analytics, and you see you’ve been discovered: over 50 hits already today! From countries all over the world! And they’re still coming in – look, there’s one right now…

After the initial rush, you start to analyze your sudden success. How did all these new fans find you? Which big-name photography site just gave you a plug? Did one of my posts go viral? Check your “referrals” and you see they all came from one place: a slightly fishy-sounding domain called “bottraffic.pw”…

Hmmm…

Your new patron is just a mindless ‘bot churning out “referrer spam”. None of those hits are visits are from human eyeballs; the IPs – and hence the geographical locations – are all spoofed. The only thing that’s real is that snaky “bottraffic.pw”.

The whole point of this insanity is to load up your server logs, or Google Analytics views, with fake hits in hopes you’ll visit the referring site – out of gratitude, curiosity, or annoyance. That’s right, it’s all just another hokey scheme to draw visitors to some worthless site serving up baloney, scams or malware. Don’t be a sap (like me), and immediately visit that URL to see what it’s about. Don’t go there at all.

Instead, pull this crabgrass out of your Analytics views with a “filter”. It’s a bit tedious, but here’s a good tutorial and explanation. The filter I created today looks like this:



Once the filter is active, all the hits from that referrer vanish from your statistics. Now you see only the pathetic trickle of actual traffic.

You might be thinking “but what about all the spam traffic to my site?” It may not even exist; referrer spam can actually be just a spoofing of GA, without any actual page accesses. If there are real hits, the frequency is probably low and they don’t matter. They can be blocked by an HTACCESS file on your server, but that’s complicated and if you mess up , you can effectively take your site offline. Not worth the hassle.


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