In our experience, it’s very common to find spam in Google Analytics accounts. As a matter of fact, we frequently bring this subject up with our clients when we’re performing an audit.
Most of the time, spam doesn’t present a major issue for a company and can be resolved by configuring views and filters in your account. The problems that spammers cause however, cause many of the people we work with to question how spam is getting into their accounts.
Because of this we’ve found ourselves answering the questions, how and why do spammers even bother putting forth the effort?
Here’s at least a couple of examples of how/why a spammer may target you or you may have simply been randomly impacted. In our experience, it’s typically the latter.
How: Bot Referral Spam
Bot spam typically comes from a list of well known offenders. You may have seen referral URLs ending in .xyz or including “all-share-buttons”. These are most likely Bot SPAM. These are visits to your website from a system that is using algorithms to randomly target websites.
How: Ghost Referral Spam
The most recent instance of spam that we’ve addressed that would only impact your analytics data was the secret.google.com exploit. In exploits like this, the spammer is using the Google Analytics Measurement Protocol to create fake visits to you. These visits look like they’re coming from any site that they want, but they’re not. These visits never actually reach your website. There are also varieties of this type of spam that target language settings instead of referral URLs.
These exploits prey on curiosity. The spammer is hoping that you see a referral page title of something like “Secret.ɢoogle.com You are invited! Enter only with this ticket URL. Copy it. Vote for Trump!” and that you’ll click the link to visit their page. The goal could simply be additional page views for their website, or something more sinister.
The folks at thenextweb.com have found themselves involved in such a plot. A spammer has actually posed as their website to make it appear that they’re sending referral traffic to sites across the web — and they’ve written about the experience here: A Russian Trump Fan is Celebrating by Hacking Google Analytics
What to Do
In most cases, spam is more of a nuisance than an issue for most businesses; however, when working with a Digital Marketing Agency it’s important to work with and optimize campaigns based on data you trust. In those cases, removing spam is a top priority.
If you’re noticing spam in your Google Analytics account and need assistance, we’d be happy to chat. Drop us a line.