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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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Valid traffic filtering out, spam traffic filtering in.

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 1
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Hi all.

 

I've set up my valid hostname filter to get rid of ghost spam and also created filters for crawler spam for my very first website that I've created.

 

As the website is very new it's easy for me to see what's being filtered out and what's remaining at the moment. Here are some examples and I was wondering if anyone could explain them...

 

1) Today when I looked at my analytics, under acquisition for Social, I have had a visit from a Facebook link. The hostname is valid, but it has 00.00.00 time spent on the website, so it looks like spam but it's not been filtered. Does this look odd to you?

 

2) Today's analytics also show 2 for Direct. One seems to be fine - 2 pages visited and 14 seconds on site. However the other was 00.00.00 time spent on site yet had valid hostname. How is it possible that 00.00.00 can be a valid length of time to be on site? Surely if someone comes to the page and realises that's not where they wanted to go, it would still show one or two seconds?

 

(1 and 2 have happened a few times over the last few days)

 

3) A few days ago I actually had what looked like a valid visit filtered out! Under acquisition on Social, in my unfiltered view I had 4 from Facebook. Under the Facebook stats it had 00.00.28 across the 4 visits. Yet when I switched to filter spam view, it only shows 3 visits from Facebook and the total time across all visits is 00.00.00. This tells me that the 4th visit was the visitor who spent 00.00.28 seconds on my website. Why would my filters block that stat?

 

Thank you so much in advance to whoever can figure this out!

 

Claire.

3 Expert replyverified_user
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Marked as Best Answer.
Solution
Accepted by topic author Claire H
December 2015

Re: Valid traffic filtering out, spam traffic filtering in.

Top Contributor
# 6
Top Contributor
CREATE A -2 PROPERTY
Since you have a brand new website, you can save yourself a lot of pain and frustration by simply going into Google Analytics and creating a new Property (on the Admin tab, in the PROPERTY column, click the selection button and pick "Create new property"). This will create a brand new analytics tracking code, usually ending in -2. You can create more if you want (50 are allowed).

Using the -2 tracking number in your new website instead of the -1 will eliminate a LOT of ghost spam traffic, which hits the -1 properties.

SESSION DURATION IS NOT A RELIABLE INDICATOR OF SPAM
To answer your questions 1 and 2, 0:00 time on site is NOT a good indicator of spam. If they don't look at a second page, the session duration is always zero. Spam visits CAN have return visits, and CAN have sessions durations > 0. If you want to understand TIME ON SITE better, you can read this article:
http://www.analyticsedge.com/2015/03/misunderstood-metrics-time-on-page-session-duration/

FILTER EFFECTIVENESS
I am really glad to hear you have an UNFILTERED VIEW! So many people overlook this and never know their filters aren't working properly.

In question 3, the 4 visits combined had an AVERAGE time on site of 28 seconds. The number represents (Sum of time on site)/Sessions for 4 sessions, and if 3 of them had 0 time on site, then the fourth actually was 4 x 28 = 112 seconds long.

Why it was filtered out depends on your filter, and whether you use event tracking on your site or have any third-party services registering traffic (like call tracking or ecommerce services). As I mentioned above, it could be a spam/fake visit, and your filter could be working perfectly.

Mike Sullivan, Google Analytics Top Contributor
Was my response helpful? If yes, please mark it as the ‘Best Answer.’ Learn how here.

View solution in original post

Re: Valid traffic filtering out, spam traffic filtering in.

Top Contributor
# 2
Top Contributor
Hi Claire,

Spammers are using the measurement protocol and they can fake everything in the payload including the hostname so it looks valid. Regarding your question about the filtered out Facebook visit, please check if you can find any difference in those four visits in your unfiltered view and check your filters to find out why was it blocked. Hope this helps.

Arnold Majlath, Google Analytics Top Contributor
Was my response helpful? If yes, please accept it as solution.
Circle Me On Google+ | Visit me @ Redfly Digital

Re: Valid traffic filtering out, spam traffic filtering in.

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 3
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
Hi Arnold,

Thanks for getting back so quickly. Do you know how I can filter out 00.00.00 100% bounce rate Social spam then?

How do I go about seeing what's different between the 3 Facebook referrals with no time spent on site and the 1 that should actually be valid? They all were directed to the same lonk on my blog. What should I use to see the difference?

Thanks!

Claire.

Re: Valid traffic filtering out, spam traffic filtering in.

Top Contributor
# 4
Top Contributor
Hi Claire,

Here is a good article about filtering out ghost spam:

http://www.lunametrics.com/blog/2015/03/19/eliminating-dumb-ghost-referral-traffic/

If you could post your filter details I'd take a look to see if I can find anything responsible for blocking valid traffic.

Arnold Majlath, Google Analytics Top Contributor
Was my response helpful? If yes, please accept it as solution.
Circle Me On Google+ | Visit me @ Redfly Digital

Re: Valid traffic filtering out, spam traffic filtering in.

Top Contributor
# 5
Top Contributor
Hi Claire,

remember that 00:00:00 visit time can be natural:
If user does not interact with your site in anyway after loading the landing page GA does not have any means to calculate time used.
GA calculates time based on timestamps that are recorded from every interaction
page 1 loads and starts the timer
page 2 loads at 00:00:32
page 3 loads at 00:01:05
Total session time 00:01:05
As you can see we also miss the time spent on page 3 again because there is no next timestamp
--
To make bad day worse, spend it wishing for the impossible

Antti Nylund, Google Analytics Top Contributor
Did my answer solve your issue? If yes, please mark it as the ‘Best Answer.’ Otherwise keep on asking.
Marked as Best Answer.
Solution
Accepted by topic author Claire H
December 2015

Re: Valid traffic filtering out, spam traffic filtering in.

Top Contributor
# 6
Top Contributor
CREATE A -2 PROPERTY
Since you have a brand new website, you can save yourself a lot of pain and frustration by simply going into Google Analytics and creating a new Property (on the Admin tab, in the PROPERTY column, click the selection button and pick "Create new property"). This will create a brand new analytics tracking code, usually ending in -2. You can create more if you want (50 are allowed).

Using the -2 tracking number in your new website instead of the -1 will eliminate a LOT of ghost spam traffic, which hits the -1 properties.

SESSION DURATION IS NOT A RELIABLE INDICATOR OF SPAM
To answer your questions 1 and 2, 0:00 time on site is NOT a good indicator of spam. If they don't look at a second page, the session duration is always zero. Spam visits CAN have return visits, and CAN have sessions durations > 0. If you want to understand TIME ON SITE better, you can read this article:
http://www.analyticsedge.com/2015/03/misunderstood-metrics-time-on-page-session-duration/

FILTER EFFECTIVENESS
I am really glad to hear you have an UNFILTERED VIEW! So many people overlook this and never know their filters aren't working properly.

In question 3, the 4 visits combined had an AVERAGE time on site of 28 seconds. The number represents (Sum of time on site)/Sessions for 4 sessions, and if 3 of them had 0 time on site, then the fourth actually was 4 x 28 = 112 seconds long.

Why it was filtered out depends on your filter, and whether you use event tracking on your site or have any third-party services registering traffic (like call tracking or ecommerce services). As I mentioned above, it could be a spam/fake visit, and your filter could be working perfectly.

Mike Sullivan, Google Analytics Top Contributor
Was my response helpful? If yes, please mark it as the ‘Best Answer.’ Learn how here.

Re: Valid traffic filtering out, spam traffic filtering in.

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 7
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
Hi Arnold, thanks for the offer! I've only just had a chance to look back over my analytics (Xmas and all that) and have noticed two more people have also responded. I'm going to read through those and if I;m still baffled I'll get back to you! Thanks so much again!

Re: Valid traffic filtering out, spam traffic filtering in.

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 8
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
Sorry - I meant to reply to this one with my last message!

Re: Valid traffic filtering out, spam traffic filtering in.

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 9
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
Hi Antti,

Aha! Well this explains loads! I had no idea about that. (I always wondered how people's analytics doesn't get skewed by people just leaving their computer on when they're still on a web page...)

This makes loads of sense, I won't worry too much about 0s from Facebook links etc then. Will just have to work on getting people to open a second page Smiley Happy blog is super new!

Thank you for that brilliant bit of info!