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Your Google Analytics Data May Not Be All As It Seems….

No right-thinking person likes spam: don’t let it affect your ecommerce marketing!

There’s a very good chance there’s a problem with your data and you may not have even realised. We’re talking about ghost spam and referral spam. If you’d like to know more about how your business could be suffering, and about what you can do about it, read on!

So what’s this Ghost Spam business and why should I care?

Quite simply, ghost spam and referral spam (a different spamming technique), pollute your GA data by showing overinflated visitor numbers, which, among other things, will negatively impact bounce and conversion rates – potentially a major problem for your ecommerce marketing campaign.

Examples of spam sites

For a more in-depth explanation about this practice it’s worth checking out this Wikipedia article on referral spam.

Why on earth would anybody want to spam my GA data?

Well, the idea, or their goal, is that when you’re checking the referral sources you’ll see these spam URLs. Not knowing these referrals are bogus, your curiosity will get the better of you. You’ll click through to the site to see what it’s all about. Once on the site the likelihood is they’re trying to:

  • Sell you a product or service
  • Redirect you to another site to bank an affiliate commission
  • Capture your email address for spamming purposes

 

Ok, I want to see accurate data – just tell me how to fix it

Ghost spam utilises a different spamming technique from referral spam, so we’ll need to apply two different fixes.

Note: Both these solutions require creating a GA filter. GA filters don’t apply to historical data so you’ll only see the spam-free data from the moment of applying the filter.

Ghost Spam Fix

The reason it’s called ‘ghost spam’ is because these ‘visits’ don’t actually hit your website, they just interfere directly with your GA account. By creating a filter we’re able to tell GA to count the visits that hit your domain only.

  1. Login to your GA account>Admin>Filters1
  1. Click on add filter 2
  2. Add filter details
    This ghost spam filter is essentially telling GA to only report on visits that have actually hit your own domain (Host). When entering your website URL in the Filter Pattern field, make sure you add a ‘\’ before any ‘.’ then hit save.
    3

 

Referral Spam

Referral spam differs to ghost spam in as far as it actually uses a valid hostname so we’ll need to create a different Google Analytics filter for this one.

  1. Login to your GA account>Admin>Filters4

 

  1. Click on add filter5

 

  1. Add filter details
    Create the referral spam filter as shown in the image below. The Filter Pattern field should contain a list of the most commonly known spamming domains. You can copy and paste this list of known spammers into that field then click save:(best|dollar|ess|top1)\-seo|(videos|buttons)\-for|anticrawler|^scripted\.|\-gratis|semalt|forum69|7make|sharebutton|ranksonic|sitevaluation|dailyrank|vitaly|profit\.xyz|rankings\-|\-crew|uptime(bot|check|\.com)|responsive\-|tkpass|keywords\-monitoring
    6

Now that both spam filters have been applied to you GA account, from this day forth you know the visitor data you are viewing is indeed genuine!
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