Online Marketing

Amanda Eldreth Posted by Amanda Eldreth on March 30, 2015

How Spam Bots are Skewing Your Web Traffic Analytics

How Spam Bots are Skewing Your Web Traffic Analytics

How Spam Bots are Skewing Your Web Traffic Analytics

A sudden spike in referral traffic could mean you have spam bots.

If you see a sudden spike if referral traffic, don’t get too excited just yet. It could signal a problem with spam bots that makes it very difficult to tell if your web design changes, marketing efforts and social media initiatives are having their intended effect. It’s important to dig down to find the source of this referral traffic to find out where it’s coming from.

Smaller Traffic Footprints Affected Most

Very successful, well-entrenched sites worry very little about this sort of thing. But a smaller site, or one that is working on establishing good traffic, won’t have strong data with which to base their marketing decisions. These decisions can be very important, especially on a young site. Basing decisions on false data can leave you spinning your wheels.

But even larger sites should try to get rid of these nuisance referrals. Spam bots crawl or visit your site, sapping resources from legitimate users and slowing down their experiences. At worst, that slows down user experience a little. At worst, it makes using your site feel like pulling teeth.

Identifying Spam Referral Sources

Google Analytics makes it possible to filter out unwanted traffic to see what’s really going on. First, use look at the hostnames in Google Analytics under Audience à Technology à Network. Pick a long time range for your view. You’ll want to pinpoint important referral sources with your hostname to use in creating a valid picture of your referral data. It doesn’t hurt to include referral sources from google translate.

Blocking Spam Bots

This filter only remembers “ghost referrals.” But you also need to create a filter that removes spam bots that actually visit the site with another filter to identify sites that you should block in your .htaccess file. An SEO professional is best qualified to use and create analytics filters because a filter is a permanent item in your Analytics account. And making an error in changes to your .htaccess file can disable the entire site, so get some help with these procedures.

Gone are the days when the average person could set up and maintain an effective website. As spammers become increasingly sophisticated, the tactics to fight them require a greater understanding of how to use marketing tools on your website. Your only other option seems to be waiting for Google to introduce tools that will make its analytics immune to manipulation by spam bots. Given that it’s a free resource, don’t hold your breath waiting for it. Take action now to get accurate analytics data that can help you make smarter web marketing choices.

Ask efelle creative for help with effective web marketing.

Efelle creative designs and builds websites, along with providing ongoing marketing and creative services, such as blogging assistance and analytics help. Call us at 206.384.4909 or use our online contact form to set up a free web marketing consultation.