Referrer Spam Can Skew Web Analytics Data

You log into your web analytics dashboard. You get excited because you see a surge of traffic. It is from several different sites. Finally, all your content marketing efforts are starting to pay off. Then you discover that your bounce rate is 100% and the average time spent is 0 seconds. This doesn’t seem right. How can all of these visitors not like the content and leave before even reading it? This is a classic sign of referrer spam and it can skew your metrics in a big way.

Referrer spam is traffic from automated bots that inflate the number of hits in your web analytics metrics. This will invoke the curiosity in unsuspecting webmasters who will go to the site that appears in the analytics report. They do this across many websites and as webmasters explore these sites, it makes it seem to Google that the sites are getting traffic from different sources, i.e., the webmasters themselves. The belief is that Google will consider this traffic legitimate and possibly increase the rank of the site.
The increase in your hits count, is not the only metric to be affected by this practice. As mentioned before, your bounce rate will be at 100% and your average time spent will be 0 seconds. Google does not look highly on sites with high bounce rates. If your visitors are not sticking around to read what you have written this is also not a good situation.

Hopefully, the Google algorithm keeps itself apprised of these spam sites and adjusts accordingly.

There are several ways to block this referral spam. However, this means you will have an added duty of frequently checking for new spam sites. It also means for some of the solutions to tinker with a file known as the .htaccess. This is a file that contains rules that can be defined to allow or block certain web entities, including websites. Many webmasters are not familiar with this file and would not be comfortable making any changes. In such cases, it’s best to contact your web hosting company’s technical support for guidance or they can make the changes for you.

Another option is to ignore the situation altogether. If you hold the belief that Google will be smart enough to figure out which traffic data comes from spam bots, this would clearly be the best option for you. Although, you will have to remember to back out this skewed data when you are trying to adjust your content strategy based on your web analytics data.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.