Unreliable Data: Could Your Analytics Be Lying to You?

If you’ve seen your bounce rate climb and climb in the past six months, you’ve been hit by traffic spammers. If your referral traffic has gone through the roof, it’s probably from semalt, one of the biggest referral spammers. What does this mean and why are they doing it?

The Newest Spam Like Old Spam, Aggravating but not Damaging

This type of spam should not affect your Google search rank. Google determines that rank on a host of factors, but the big factors are the actions taken by actual searchers. Your rank is not determined by your analytics report. This newest form of spam, commonly called referral spam does not reach your site through a search. Instead it is a trick played on the reporting system.

Back 10-15 years, websites would routinely publish referrer logs, and spammers would write scripts to generate the referral (link click) from the spam site to site that publishes its logs. This would put a link back to the spam site out on the web, and search engines would crawl this and “award points” to the spam site for the link. If enough sites link to a site, it must have been important and therefor should rank higher, so the spam site would win.

As more sites stopped publishing those logs, the goals began to change. Now for most it’s lead generation and advertising. We routinely check out who is referring traffic; we’ve clicked through to see what semalt.com is about. We don’t need SEO services, but maybe someone out there does. That’s who semalt wants to reach. Some are counting on that same curiosity to bring traffic to ad-laden pages for direct profit, like iloveitaly.

Spamming like this also got easier. Instead of writing a script to crawl and index sites like semalt does, a site like 4webmasters uses a script to spam Google Analytic accounts directly. They don’t visit your site, they just send “hits” to an Analytic account number, say 111-111-111, then to 111-111-112 and so on. Much faster, same results.

All of this should be filtered out by your web host or analytics company. It just clogs up the data and interferes with market analysis. If you saw a 90% bounce on your homepage, you might think its driving away traffic and in need of a redesign–be sure it’s not spammers!

What to do about referral spam?

All of this should be filtered out by your web host or analytics company. It just clogs up the data and interferes with market analysis. If you saw a 90% bounce on your homepage, you might think its driving away traffic and in need of a redesign–be sure it’s not spammers!

If you’d like help filtering your data, let us know. We can send you a list of the top sites to filter and how to do it.

About Candace Crowe Design

In everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. Average is not acceptable. We challenge the world by being innovative, by developing tools no other company offers. If you’re the kind of person who likes to have total control over every aspect of your practice, we have the tools for you.

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