Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Ghost Referral Spam is Gone?

I first heard the news on the podcast SEO 101 with hosts Ross Dunn and John Carcutt: Google analytics spam was gone. Wonderful news! Yay, yay, yay, yay. (That's me dancing around the room and high fiving myself.) No longer would we have to filter the spam out of Google Analytics results to get truer data. Google had gotten rid of it. 

But could this really be true? When I googled this news, I couldn't find anything about it anywhere. Nothing. Nada. Zippo. Zilch.

I searched again. Then I found Conor Treacy's mention on Local Search forum. He offered this link to an article on SEM.  Conor has also written his own article on the disappearance.  Right on, Conor, SEM, and SEO 101 Ross and John!  Weird, such a big thing and only a few people talking about it and certainly not Google.

If it is gone, then why is no one talking about it?  Maybe no one is paying attention. Because if you did pay attention, you would have seen a drop in traffic in your Google Analytics data and reports starting in February or March. It's not traffic you'd ever miss, because with its loss you should have a lower bounce rate and a longer average session duration, a good, indeed excellent, thing.

Here is the content within the referral tab results of a site before Google started getting rid of the ghost referral spam.

You can see that the referrals shown are all ghost referral spam and that it is giving the site a very high bounce rate and low average session duration.

Now see the results after Google had started getting rid of the ghost spam.

As you can see, the bounce rate has only improved slightly and the average time on site has gotten worse, because there are still ghost referrals. I gave them a grey ghostly pallor in the above image as they deserve. So maybe this is why few people are mentioning the disappearance of ghost spam, Google hasn't been able to get rid of it all.

You can also see some real referrals from Yahoo, Cylex, Facebook, and Newswire beneath the ghost ones and how that traffic has a much better bounce rate and session duration.  That is why no spam in referrals would be so ideal and why I look forward to this happening in the future.  I hope Google will filter the heck out of the spam.  Otherwise our traffic in GA is not accurate. That is, unless we filter it ourselves, a difficult job.

Ghost referral spammers don't really go to your website at all, it's not real traffic, that's why the word ghost.  Somehow these companies are spamming Google Analytics with false traffic so people like us will notice the urls in our analytics data and go to their, the spammers', websites. They get traffic from their fake traffic, so they can sell us something or give us malware or something else not so fun or funny.  So don't go there.  We don't want to encourage them.

If you need help with your SEO or Google Analytics give us a call 403-219-3031.  Or go to our SEO webpage.