Setting Google Analytics To Hide Referrer SPAM | Varn


29 January 2015

Setting Google Analytics To Hide Referrer SPAM,,, and are just a sample of a new breed of common referrals that are causing frustration to users of Google Analytics.

You notice a spike of visits in your report. Your instant reaction is to assume you have had a great report on visitor numbers until you realise that the bounce rate and time on site makes it obvious that something is wrong. Ask yourself, before you assume there is a jump in visitors, whether you have done anything to justify a jump in traffic. If not – it might be that spammers have infiltrated! Find out the origin of the visits – go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals. Check the top traffic sources and see where the traffic comes from.

It should be stated that despite recognising that for instance the Huffington Post is a well- known and respected newspaper – this has nothing to do with the recently registered domain name of (the misspelling is the clue), which has been linked to a dubious source in Russia which is also setting up similar spam referral like ILoveVitaly.Com and

There is a serious downside to these referrals – not just because they confuse your website intelligence – but because they also increase your bounce rate, which will affect your search engine ranking negatively.

So, What To Do Next?

First of all – if you have clicked on’s link or any spam link – close the browser – reopen your browser and delete the history and cookies.

It’s worth knowing there are different types of spam which can be dealt with in different ways.

Names to categorise them have cottoned on. There are creepy crawlers and there are ghost referrals.

Creepy Crawlers:

They creep about the web to take information for their own means and by clicking on a link you might invite a Trojan infection. Semalt is an example of one of these. It comes from several IP addresses so you cannot block the traffic by excluding the IP in Analytics. You can however block the .htaccess files.

Ghost Referrals:

These never actually visit your website. Examples of this are seen in, You might presume you need to edit your .htaccess file but this is pointless with this type of spam. As they have never actually visited your site, unfortunately this means you can’t block their visit. They are the result of fake page views designed to fool Google’s tracking, using random tracking IDs. Your ID is tracked and records a referral visit from their source in your reports. This is like someone edited a list of people visiting a website, rather than actually bothering to visit. Use filters to prevent the spam showing and also add the websites into the referral exclusion list. Whilst this works initially you may find that the spam begins to appear in your organic search list with terms like ‘google officially – recommends’. Make sure you add these to the Search Terms Exclusion List. It may take a day or two for the exclusion to work well with this process.

Spam like this can affect up to 30% of your traffic so it really is worth investigating and attempting to fix spam issues on Google Analytics. Currently there are conflicting views and advice on how to fix these resilient spam methods and as there are differences in the way they work – each needs to be treated carefully.

Stay Vigilant

Here’s a list of domain names to look out for that are reported as SPAM: / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /

If you want some more advice on Google Analytics, please contact Varn.

Article by: Tom, Managing Director of Varn Digital Marketing More articles by Tom

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