You have a brand new website, and you’ve set up Google Analytics in hopes of learning more about who is visiting your site. You check back in a week or two. For some reason though, most of your traffic seems to be coming from a small village in northeastern Russia. You check the main referrers, and you see shady looking results like “www.get-free-social-traffic.com”.
How is that possible, you ask? What you may not have anticipated is that Google Analytics, like every other part of the Internet, is bombarded by an inordinate amount of spam. In order to get accurate and useful reports, you need to learn how to filter out these results when viewing data in Google Analytics. For many sites, spam hits can account for over 50% of all Google Analytics results, which skews the key metrics so badly that it may not even be worth looking at your Analytics if you don’t have a good way of excluding these spam entries.
Here are a few tips on how to exclude spam hits from your Google Analytics reports:
1. Don’t Throw Out The Default View
When applying a new kind of filter in Google Analytics, always keep a “View” with the original data (i.e. an “unfiltered” view) in case something goes wrong and your filters start excluding real data that you eventually need to retrieve. You can easily create new views in the Admin panel.
2. Turn on Bot Filtering in The View Settings Pane
This preliminary step helps to exclude many of the most obvious bots and spiders from your Google Analytics results. Simply checking this box will tell your Google Analytics account to exclude all bots and spiders on the IAB/ABC International Spiders & Bots List. Considering the list costs $4,000+ to obtain, Google is doing Analytics users a big favor by including this option.
3. Create a Hostname Filter
The hostname of any legitimate visitor to your website should always be your domain. For instance, our hostname should be www.littlejackmarketing.com, and any other subdomains we use. By only counting visits with this hostname, Google Analytics will filter out a significant percentage of fake referrers from your reports.
4. Exclude Known Spammers
Exclude known spammer domains by adding a custom filter. Some spammer domains, such as “darodar” or “free-social-media-buttons.com” are so prolific that they appear on the Google Analytics results of most sites. Adding them to an “exclude” list should help you cut down on spam hits, though you should know that spammers are crafty and your list of who to exclude will grow quickly.
5. Require reCAPTCHA For Certain Areas
Require users to go through a reCAPTCHA before they can view certain portions of your site. If you’re still having issues with spam traffic, you can require users to click the “I’m not a robot” reCAPTCHA before certain pages on your site will load. This should exclude the vast majority of remaining spam, though it does come as a minor inconvenience to legitimate users of your site.
Need more details on how to implement these spam-fighting strategies into your Google Analytics account? Little Jack Marketing is here to help! Contact us today to set up a consultation and get started!