When I was first trying to block referral spam in Google Analytics, I was adding code to my .htaccess files on various websites. After a couple of days, it seemed to work. But then I would still notice some spam referrals showing from the domains.
TL;DR: CREATE AN ANALYTICS CODE FOR YOUR WEBSITE THAT ENDS WITH -3 OR MORE
I was using codes like the ones below. And I’m sure you recognize some of these classics such as Semalt, buttons-for-website, 7makemoneyonline, and Darodar. And of course, Ilovevitaly—not I love Italy. More on him in a sec.
What the Hell is This?
Also—if you’re reading this article—I’m sure at some point you’ve seen this gem in your organic search section of Analytics:
vitaly rules google ☆*:.｡.゚゚･*ヽ(^ᴗ^)丿*･゚゚.｡.:*☆ ¯\_(ツ)_/¯(•ิ_•ิ)(ಠ益ಠ)(ಥ‿ಥ)(ʘ‿ʘ)ლ(ಠ_ಠლ)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)ヽ(゚д゚)ノʕ•̫͡•ʔᶘ ᵒᴥᵒᶅ(=^. .^=)oo
Personally, I think that one is kind of funny. Because it’s true. And Google has done nothing to stop this junk.
However, new spam sites and fake organic searches kept popping up—and still keep popping up—so using this method, I would have to update my .htaccess files pretty much every week. No thanks.
But Who is This Vitaly Referrer?
Vitaly Popov is the man behind most of the referral spam you see in your Analytics account. Others are copycats or are paying him to use his spam referral service.
And currently, domains like floating-share-buttons and event-tracking are dominating referral spam in Analytics. Also, porn.
Then a couple months ago, I created a brand new dummy Google Analytics account to test the spam. I never actually put the Analytics code on a website.
It was just a new Google Analytics account in a generic Gmail account. I created two more codes within the same account. So I have an Analytics account with codes like:
These accounts were never put in the header tag of a website. There is no way for a bot to hit a website to create a visit for these accounts.
Check Out the Results
Click the image above for a larger view.
The xxxxxxxx-1 Analytics codes have over 1,200 referral spam traffic visits after about a month and a half. And the xxxxxxxx-3 account has none.
What is the Solution to Stop the Spam Referrer Traffic?
Well, the easy answer is, ditch your Google Analytics
code that ends in -1. And instead, use a code that ends in -3 or higher. The spam is currently mostly targeting Analytics codes that end in -1.
And I feel like this is proof the software being used is only exploiting Google Analytics and not actually visiting your website. (I’ve done a few tests like this, and each one is the same).
So blocking them in .htaccess seems like a good idea, but the spam can still get through to your Analytics. The best solution to kill all the spam is using a non -1 code if possible.
It may be scary to stop tracking your original -1 code because of all the history it has built up. However—lets be honest—your Analytics data hasn’t been accurate since late 2014. So why not switch?
Does the Fake Traffic and Bounce Rate Hurt SEO?
I know many webmasters and SEOs out there are worried this spam is hitting their websites and possibly hurting ranking because they create such a high bounce rate. But it isn’t true.
None of the spam actually visits your site. Therefore, how can it hurt SEO?
Also, since the same spam bullshit is hitting millions of Analytics accounts, then everyone should be on an even playing field. Right?
Google Analytics Filters to Block Spam
You can also constantly update filters within Analytics to not show the current spam sites and the new ones. But it just seems easier to me to create a new Analytics code and upload it to your website.
So How Do I Create the New Analytics Code to Combat Spam?
Obviously, log in to your Google Analytics account. Then click the Admin tab.
Then hit the drop down menu and click Create new account…
Enter your info into the fields:
Do that a couple times until you get your -3 or higher Analytics code.
And boom goes the dynamite.
You can now combat spam referral visits to your website with this new code.
Will the Spammers Find Out about This Trick?
If this post gets popular enough, they probably will. And then they will have to include -2 and -3 and -4 and -5 and more codes in their spam system. But that might be a lot of work on their end.
Their current system most likely creates randomly generated numbers to hit codes that only have -1 on the end. Then they hit your Google Analytics.
For the record, I am blocking Vitaly’s main IP address in Russia. So hopefully he won’t have access to or find this post, to then decide to start targeting non -1 Analytics accounts.
Let me know if this helps. Please comment below.
His latest gem…
i came up with a method and 1,5 years forcing all-seeing eye of google to distribute my advertisements to millions best paying google clients for free! ha ha! vitaly popov