Eliminate Referral Spam Traffic and Ghost Visits In Google Analytics.
Hey Guys, I am Arpit and this is my first video of the Google Analytics series. In this video I will show you how to clean up your Google analytic data by blocking referral spam traffic and Ghost visits. Also, I will show you a quick way of blocking yourself from Google Analytics even if you have a dynamic internet IP. If you want to look at what all topics I will cover in this Google Analytics series then you can click on this video. You can also leave a comment if you want me to cover anything in Google Analytics. On that note let’s get started.
For those who are not aware about what is referral spam traffic let me tell you. When someone visits your website their browser passes certain data to Google Analytics. One piece of information that is passed is called the referrer. The referrer is the site that they are on when they click a link to go to your site. The exploit comes from the fact that it is the browser that passes the data, if you can program your own browser you can pass anything you want as the referrer. And that is basically the case. spammers do this to grab your attention. In your analytics account when you see a lot of traffic coming from a single site so you may go take a look at that particular site and when you do you might get a sales pitch or you might get some advertisement that follows you around for weeks.
Another problem with this referral spam traffic is that you don’t get to see the real picture. I have seen accounts with 70% of their traffic made up of referral spam. You might be happy about your website traffic increasing steadily but the reality is this is referral spam they are just not real people. So in this video today I will show you how to get rid of referral spam traffic.
Before that there is another type of fake traffic that you might not be aware of is called Ghost Visits. Now Ghost visits are the real culprit guys… they corrupt your data way more than referral spam. So let me tell you a little bit about ghost visits. Now these show up as actual visits in your analytics reports but in reality nobody ever showed up. Unlike referral spam that fakes a source but still could visit your site as a bot but in case of ghost visits they are no visits whatsoever it only looks like there was a visit.
So how does this happen ?
Well you paste a Google Analytics code in your site and the only difference between your code and my code is the tracking ID number, so if I change the tracking ID on my site to your number suddenly all my traffic will show up in your analytics reports, even though the visitors were on my site.
Now why would anybody do this
So if I want to inject some data in the thousands of Analytics accounts to draw attention to my own business I could set-up a private web server put in the Google analytics code and then randomly change the tracking id number with each visit. Suddenly and very quickly I can make a big impression across many different businesses.
Now the Good news is I am going to tell you a simple filter that will eliminate 100% of these Ghost visits.
Let’s take a look at it
So when you are logged into your analytics account – Under Audience – Click on Technology – Network – and then Hostname
Now here you should not see any other domain apart from your own domain name and if you see some other domain names like I see here, then these are actually Ghost visits.
Since the spammers are picking random tracking ID’s numbers they have no idea what host is involved, they do not know your website address so they cannot know your hostname instead what shows up is either their own hostname or something that they decide to use. Like you see here bbc.com or google.com now if your tracking code is not pasted on google.com then there is no way google.com can be the host.
So now what we have to do is setup analytics so it only includes visits from your own hostname. In one quick move we eliminate all ghost spam with no future adjustments necessary.
Now If you observe here a little bit I will tell www.nsdmindia.com is my domain and rest all are fake visits. Yes even nsdmindia.com. Why I am saying that is because I have setup a redirect so even if you open nsdminida.com in a browser it will redirect it to www.nsdmindia.com. And that’s how it should be from SEO perspective. But why I told you this is because now when I will show you how to set-up a filter I will only include traffic from www version this way analytics will only show data of my actual site.
Another thing if you want to see the impact of these Ghost visits you can set up a quick segment so you will exactly come to know about what percentage of your traffic is real.
Let’s look at it
So I click on add segment and then I click on +New Segment. Then under Advance I click on conditions.
From the first filter I select Hostname and then exactly matches and then I choose my domain name www.nsdmindia.com . Now here you can see 47.39% traffic on my site is real rest all is Ghost visits.
Now let’s look at how to set up a filter to eliminate all these ghost visits with no further adjustments necessary.
I suggest you first create a new view and setup the filter in that view this way your data will be safe.
In order to create a new view click on Admin – Under View Colum click on Create new view
Give your view an appropriate name, choose your time zone and click on - create view
After this you will see the new view right here--- click on it. I will get into the test view for the purpose of showing you.
Click on Admin ----------and then under the View Colum click on Filter – Add Filter
Filter Name – Give this filter an appropriate name I like to call it Ghost Visits
Click on custom
And Then click on include . From the filter field select Hostname. In the filter pattern write your domain name www.nsdmindia.com now in case you have more domain names that you want to capture. Like if your shopping cart is hosted on some other domain name then you use this bar also known as pipe and put the other domain name without any space.
Then click on verify filter
And this what you should see
Before filter was applied it was capturing data from all these hostnames and after the filter is applied it will not capture data. In case I go up and write here something and then click on verify again and now in the list if you see your real domain name that means you are doing it wrong.
Then you just click on save and you are good to go.
In the beginning of the video we also talked about eliminating referral spam. The good news is… this filter that I just showed you will eliminate most of it and in some cases all of it. However there could still be some spam data in your analytics account in form of referral traffic.
Let’s deal with it
Under Acquisition – Click on All traffic and then click on referrals
Now if you put a secondary dimension of hostname here then you see all these hostnames have been sending this referral spam traffic on my website. The Ghost Visit Filter that I just showed will eliminate all this referral spam for you. However, Spammers that use real bots to visit my site will still get recorded since they are actual visits to my site even though they come from a bot.
So now what I suggest is…. to find such spammers put an advance filter here so we only see traffic from my real hostname – So choose Include---- hostname----exactly matching-----your domain name. And then click on Apply.
In case you see more domains with high traffic and you want to block them as well, then again you can add a filter but this time
I will also give you a list where all well know spammers are listed you can have a look so you can identify them easily next time you see them. The link is in the description. https://github.com/piwik/referrer-spam-blacklist/blob/master/spammers.txt
Now when you know how to eliminate referral spam traffic and Ghost visits. The last nail in the coffin is to block yourself and your team from Google analytics even if you have a dynamic internet IP. Let’s have a look at it.
Block yourself from Google Analytics.
So you will have to add a browser extension called Google Analytics Opt-out Add-on. I will leave the link in the description section. https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/google-analytics-opt-out/fllaojicojecljbmefodhfapmkghcbnh
Once this extension is added to your browser Google analytics will not track you. This way you can block yourself and your team even if you have a dynamic internet ip.
So this will be all for today my next video will be on link tracking & manual tagging as a part of this Google Analytics series. If you want me to cover any topic put it down in the comment section.
Also if you think you learnt something new today make sure you hit that like button and subscribe to my channel. I will see you guys soon.