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Learn to identify referral spam traffic, as well as best practices to reduce referral spam in your Google Analytics account
 
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Solution to filter out spam referral traffic

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 1
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Hi.
What is the best solution to filter out spam referral traffic in GA (both through spam referral and referring traffic)
I've read through the forum and tried both solutions offered:
Filter domain referrals

https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1034842?hl=en

Referral Exclusions
https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/2795830?hl=en

No luck with either and it's messing up all of our data. :-(

What else should I try?

Is the disavow backlinks my next option?

Is there a way to report these sites somewhere in order to shut them down. We are blocking them, so that at least we're not seeing them in current data.

So frustrating and such a waste of time.

 

Thank you in advance for the help.

1 Expert replyverified_user
Marked as Best Answer.
Solution
Accepted by James_Clemens (Top Contributor)
January 2017

Solution to filter out spam referral traffic

Top Contributor
# 2
Top Contributor

Hi :-)
General best practice is to leave your initial View without any filters applied so as to always have an undedited copy of 'raw' data.

Data spam is a known issue, not just for GA but a number of other analytics solutions too.
The following article is a long but recommended read.. it also offers configuration solutions for cleaning up your reports as to how to setup the necessary filters for forward going data, and segments for looking at clean historical data etc

http://help.analyticsedge.com/spam-filter/definitive-guide-to-removing-google-analytics-spam/

Bronwyn Vourtis, Google Analytics Top Contributor
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Solution to filter out spam referral traffic

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 3
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Hi Bronwyn.

This is very helpful thank you.
Lots to unpack here.

Some things beyond my expertise.
I'll review with my team and determine what we can implement and what we need to have the web developer implement.

Hope Google can put a stop to these spam referrers for good one day.
:-) 

Solution to filter out spam referral traffic

Top Contributor
# 4
Top Contributor

Hi :-)

the recommended creation of a new View and all the recommended filters and segments for removing the spam data will be created within the Google Analytics interface. No editing of any code on the website is required.

I usually find working through something like this, even if slow going, it's a great learning exercise and a good way of getting acquainted with the Google Analytics interface regarding filters and segments. 

Bronwyn Vourtis, Google Analytics Top Contributor
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Solution to filter out spam referral traffic

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 5
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Hi.
Thank you.

Good to know.
I will give it a go.
:-)

Solution to filter out spam referral traffic

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 6
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Hi Bronwyn.
Just replying back to your post to ask a few questions as this is a bit beyond my expertise.
I read through the post you shared and there are 5 suggestions to implement. Do you recommend all five?
Are there implications to implementing these?
Is there anything that might break something else that I should be worried about?
Do you work for Analytics Edge who developed the post?
Wanting to understand Analytics Edge's offering/costs to see if it might we worthwhile getting some expert advice.

 

Re: Solution to filter out spam referral traffic

[ Edited ]
Top Contributor
# 7
Top Contributor

Hi :-)

Do you work for Analytics Edge who developed the post?
I do not work for Analytics Edge.

 

Wanting to understand Analytics Edge's offering/costs to see if it might we worthwhile getting some expert advice.

There is a link in the page i pointed you to, to further details about the spam filtering services offered.
You would need to contact Analytics Edge to discuss it.

 

No, i do not recommend all methods.

1. New Website? Use a ‘-2’ Property.
- If Its not a new website as per the recommendation then no point

- it would require changing the tracking code on the website

- Is not a guaranteed method of keeping the data clean on its own.. you may still end up with spam data in the new Property reports and need to use the other methods mentioned in conjunction with this method.

2. Implement a Valid Hostname Filter for Ghost Visits

At the very least, a valid hostname filter should be used.
(However see notes below)

3. Implement Spam Crawler Filters
Definitely yes

(However see notes below)


4. Create a Custom Segment
Definitely yes

Segments are none destroying of data, they do not permanently alter the data the way filters do, so no long term 'bad affects on data already in the reports. Great for looking at historic data in reports, that filters do not work on.


5. Turn On Google’s Bots & Spiders Option
Definitely yes, general best practice. 

Notes

Best practice is to usually have at least 3 Views (and other Views as per your business reporting needs)
- Always leave the initial default View (All website data) without any filters applied. This way you have a raw, unedited copy of data for reporting purposes at all times, should it be needed at any stage.
- The 2nd View is a "master View" and will have filters applied to it after they have been tested to ensure they work. This will provide a fairly clean copy of data going forward from when its created and filters applied.

Generally it would at the very least, it would have a hostname filter applied for valid hostnames.
- The 3rd View is for filter testing and similar. Always create a test View to apply new filters too.. let it run for a few days to a week with the new filters, to then compare it against your original View that doesnt have any filters. This way you can see what the filters change and to what extent. Once you know the filters work as expected, then they can be applied to the Master View (or other created Views) as required.

Following this pattern helps to work against accidental loss of data due to incorrect filter configurations.

Bronwyn Vourtis, Google Analytics Top Contributor
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Solution to filter out spam referral traffic

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 8
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

:-)
Thank you!

This is very helpful.
I appreciate it.

 

Solution to filter out spam referral traffic

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 9
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Hi Bronwyn.
Thank you for all of the info. It was very helpful.
I did implement all things and it has worked nicely.

One question:
This worked well for current/new data, but not historical data. Did I miss something? Is there something special to do to apply the filters to past data?
Everything registers as 0.
Any insights would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

Solution to filter out spam referral traffic

Top Contributor
# 10
Top Contributor

Hi @Leigh F :-)
Filters are not retroactive, they do not work on historical data.

To look at the historical data is where

4. Create a Custom Segment comes into use

Bronwyn Vourtis, Google Analytics Top Contributor
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