How to Remove Referral Spam from Google Analytics

Lately my Google Analytics numbers have been way off.

You know you have an issue when start seeing referral sources such as Semalt, Simple-share-buttons or darodar. These referrals are actually considered “ghost referral traffic” since they never actually hit your site.

Google Analytics Report

As you can see from my Google Analytics reports, I’m getting nailed by these stupid companies. At first I thought I had it made since I was finally getting traffic, until I noticed that the traffic stayed on my site for exactly 00:00:00 time.

Google Analytics Report

Then I noticed that the visits weren’t even registering as a visit to my home page.   This is when I knew I had a real problem.

So I did what any non-technical person would do. I googled, “How to block simple share buttons in Google Analytics”

I read through a lot of articles trying to find the best resources.  I need simple step-by-step instructions that are written in mostly layman terms.  Below are the three articles that helped me the most.

Viget – Removing Referral Spam from Goggle Analytics – Ben Travis includes step-by-step instructions for setting up Google Filters. He includes a filter pattern that blocks all the major offenders with one filter. I’m currently trying out his method until I have time to wrap my brain around Mike’s instructions below.

Theedisign – Blocking Spam Referral Traffic from Google Analytics – Great articles that offers four ways of blocking spam.

  1. .htaccess
  2. Javascript Referral Exclusion
  3. Google Analytics Filters
  4. Bonus: Country Level Google Analytics Referral Exclusions

Analyticsedge.comDefinitive Guide to Removing Referral Spam – Mike isn’t lying when he says this is a definitely guide. He literally covers everything. Most of the articles I read advocated filtering out the bad referral traffic. Mikes takes it a step further and recommends creating an include filter.  According to Mike, you will need a lot less effort to maintain a filter based on valid hostnames, then to continually updated your exclusion filters.

I’m not a technical person, so lot of this went over my head, but hopefully as I work through his instructions I can get my site cleaned up.

Let me know if you have any additional recommendations or ideas on how to handle Analytics Spam.

Just as an FYI here is a great article by Ty Cahill “More about Darodor (and ilovevitaly) Referrer Spam in Google Analytics,” that explains why you are getting referral spam and more importantly what is in it for the crazy person who is messing with your analytics.

***Shortly after publishing this post I was contacted by Andrew Laws, he has an excellent article about Referral Spam.  More importantly though, he has a google spreadsheet you can download that has an extensive list of fake referral companies that he is constantly updating.  I definitely recommend checking out his article and accessing his list.