Don't Get Spooked By Ghost Spam

By Matter

You’re sipping your morning coffee, sweet jams are streaming through your earbuds, and you’re ready to take on this digital day. With Google Analytics displayed across your monitor, you click through to see how well your website is performing and who is checking it out. Google, Bing, Facebook – the usual suspects are high on your list of source traffic. But what is that odd URL in your referral source list? You tentatively click it.

BAM! You’ve been SPAMMED!

As we continue to do our homework and become hip to the spammers’ jive, they also continue to devise clever and sneaky ways to spam attack us. The latest spam tactic in particular targets SEOs and other savvy marketers using Google Analytics. This new spam is called referrer spam.

Referrer spam is unique in that it is only visible through web analytics tools. What is a referrer? When a name or link is shared as a browser navigates from one page to another it is called a referrer. Essentially, it tells marketers how people are reaching their website.

How does referrer spam work? The most common type of referrer spam is called Ghost Spam. This tactic involves the spammer submitting their data to Google Analytics Servers directly. This way, they bypass visiting your website and go straight to your analytics dashboard. Their goal is to trigger your curiosity so that you click their link that appears to be sending a great deal of traffic to your website.

Good news! Since Ghost Spam never actually visits your website it will not affect your server load which in turn affects your site speed.

Bad news. It can skew your analytics reports, especially if you’re a small business. Referrer spam can appear to be sending thousands of visits to your website when in reality these are not legitimate visits. It’s critical for the integrity of your data to eliminate these spam “visits” when measuring your referral source traffic as it can significantly skew all your analytics data. You can easily do this by setting up custom filters within your dashboard. The results will be true, clean data.

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