How to Filter Spam Traffic in Google Analytics
A couple of months ago I logged into our website analytics and noticed something strange. Our site traffic had leapt over the last couple of weeks. It had tripled. At first, I was thrilled. People were linking to our site! Then I dug a little deeper and realized it was all spam traffic.
All this spam was listed as referral traffic. I immediately did some investigating and found out that this is not actual traffic we received; someone had directly communicated with Google analytics and added this fake traffic. Why? It was a way to drive their site traffic up. They wanted you to see something strange in your analytics and click on the website.
This spam traffic was affecting every aspect of our analytics, from bounce rate to session duration. The spammers would just enter random numbers. Our data was completely skewed, and since we are a results-driven company, seeing skewed results isn’t an option. We setup a filter to stop viewing analytics from this specific site.
But it kept happening. And that’s when we realized this isn’t a problem that’s going to go away. Right now we have filters in place for 50 different URLs. Some of them are sneaky, like "hulfingtonpost" or "theguardlan."
If it’s happening to us, it’s probably happening to you, too. If so, here’s how to setup a filter so you don't see that spam traffic.
1. Go to the Admin tab in Analytics and click on All Filters.
2. Choose +New Filter
3. Add a filter name. This can be whatever you want it to be. I started naming the filters things and later ended up just pasting the URL there since I had so many of the same variation.
4. Under Filter Type, choose Custom.
5. Choose the radio button Exclude.
6. Select the field Campaign Source.
7. Paste the URL into the Filter Pattern field.
8. In the Apply Filter to Views box, add All Web Site Data.
At this point, creating a filter for every single URL is the best solution. Some have suggested excluding all referrals and making exceptions for legitimate ones, but that’s not an option for us.
Here’s our list of sites that are spamming. I intend to keep this updated. Don’t visit these sites! It will only reward their practices.
Have you experienced this? Do you have any sites to add to my list or recommendations for how to handle it? I shouldn’t be shocked at people being spammy and weird at this point, but this spam traffic stunt seems particularly low.
About the Author
I'm Autumn Nicholson, Director of Internet Marketing. I earned my Bachelor’s degree in English and took the first editing job I could find, at a marketing company in South Carolina. I joined Farmore Marketing in 2014 to put my internet marketing experience to good use—and to spend more time on the beach. I invest much of my time volunteering for nonprofits, reading, and binge-watching TV shows on Netflix. You can connect with me here: