August 2011

Google Analytics Referrer Spam

by Jason Green on August 31, 2011 · 73 comments

If you’ve launched a new website recently and were excited to see referrals from golbnet or forexmarket, you have been spammed. This is a tactic used by spammers to get webmasters, curious to research their referrers, to visit the desired website. Also referred to as log spam or referrer bombing. It’s not necessarily malicious, but it’s definitely annoying.
Referring SitesIt’s funny that people are doing this now, because I had a chat about how someone could do this with my co-worker, Taylor Pratt, while working at LunaMetrics in 2007.

Your best option is to simply ignore these referrers. Do not visit the websites. They’re spam, so they don’t deserve your business, but there’s also the chance that you’ll wind up on a site filled with viruses and other malware. If you don’t want the referrals to show up in your Google Analytics account, you also have a few options for removing them.

How to get rid of referral spam:

1. I always recommend keeping at least one GA account with no filters. Make sure you have one profile that will show these referrals, just in case there’s a problem as you create new filters. (You always want to have access to your raw data.) If you don’t already have a separate profile, create a new Google Analytics profile and start anew.
2. On what will now be your “good” profile, you can create a few filters to eliminate the golbnet and forexmarket referrer spam entries.
Create an “include” filter that only includes your domain name. If someone uses your Google Analytics account ID on another domain, this will prevent them from showing up in your analytics.

  • Filter Type: Custom > INCLUDE
  • Filter Field: hostname
  • Filter Pattern: yourdomain\.com
  • *The filter pattern is RegEx, so you should escape the period with a backslash.
  • Case Sensitive: No

Hostname Include Filter

The above method is probably the easiest way to solve the problem, but there are still loopholes. The “perpetrators” could actually be visiting your site through some automated means. If they do it this way, our hostname filter won’t have any effect. Instead, we’ll have to eliminate any referrals from the suspected spammers. *If you find more spam domains, please leave a comment below. I’ll keep this list updated for anyone that wants to cover all bases.

For now, we’ll create custom filters to eliminate any Referral Source (aka: Campaign Source) with text that matches our spammers:

Current Referral Spammer List

  • golbnet
  • forexmarket
  • ForexTradingStrategies
  • acessa.me
  • is.gd/UnlimitedWebHosting
  • is.gd/ForexTrading
  • tinyurl.com/ForexTradingSystems
  • tinyurl.com/MakeMoneyWithYourWebsite
  • br4.in/ForexMarket
  • toma.ai/6pf
  • bct.im/ForexMarket
  • ibexalerts.com/craigslist-email.aspx
  • clubXstream.net
  • slowfoodottawagatineau.org
  • forex-ninjas.com
  • rock.to

*There are many variations of the golbnet spam, so capturing any referral containing “golbnet” is necessary. However, if you’re actually in the forex market, eliminating any referrer with “forexmarket” in their URL might be overzealous. You’ll need to tweak these values for your individual situation. Luckily, there’s a link to learn more about Regular Expressions right in the filter creation screen.

Ok, onto the filters:

  • Filter Type: Custom > EXCLUDE
  • Filter Field: Campaign Source
  • Filter Pattern: golbnet
  • Case Sensitive: No

*This will eliminate any referrer with the text “golbnet” anywhere in the referring URL.
To exclude other referrers, such as forexmarket, you could create another filter, OR you could simply add a “pipe” which acts as an “OR” operator.
(eg. Filter Pattern: golbnet|forexmarket|anythingelse )
*You can get the pipe by pressing Shift and Backspace.
Referrer Exclude Filter

That should eliminate these spam referrers from your Google Analytics reports. Remember, the most important thing is that you don’t visit these sites. If you have any questions, or additional solutions, please leave us a comment below. Also, if you have any additional spam referrals to report, please leave them below and we’ll add them to the list.

Thanks to Avinash and Nick for the shout out on the Google Analytics Blog! (Web Analytics TV #19 – The Most Productive Episode) (pretty cool to be mentioned there)

P.S. If you find this interesting, but don’t actually want to implement the filters yourself, I’m be happy to help. For $70, I’ll create the necessary filters to eliminate all of these known referral spammers and will apply them to up to 5 accounts. Most of you are fully capable of making these changes yourself, but if you don’t have the time, or just don’t feel like messing with this, email me at jgreen AT BusinessHut.com

Is Google Analytics a Waste of Time?

by Jason Green on August 31, 2011 · 0 comments

Yes, if you only look at the data and don’t act.

  • Who cares if your bounce rate is 70% or 30%?
  • Who cares if you have 5,000 visitors per month?
  • Who cares if 30% of your visits come from California?

None of that matters if you just look at it and say, “Yay! I have Google Analytics on my site!” Having Google Analytics alone will not help your site in any way. Knowing that you have 100, 1000, or 1-Million visitors per month, doesn’t help you.

For each metric in Google Analytics, you should look at your site over time and note any changes.

  • Is the metric trending up? Down? -> What does that mean?
  • Are there peaks or valleys in the graph? -> Why?

Guide to Google Analytics Actionability

Here is a short checklist to help you determine what to do with your Google Analytics data to improve the performance of your website:

  • Look at the Reports. – Does anything stand out? (Peaks/Valleys/Trends)
  • Ask Questions. – Why? What changed? Outside influence?
  • What do you WANT the data to show? – Do you want an increase or decrease?
  • What can you DO to alter your desired metric? – Design Change? Ad Copy Change?
  • Track it! – Track the results of your efforts. Did they have the desired effect?
  • Repeat with each report or metric you’d like to see change.

The key takeaway of this post is that you (we) all need to stop just looking at our analytics reports. Passively watching your stats go up and down is merely entertainment. We need to ask tough questions and make the necessary changes to improve the performance of our sites.

Good luck!

> If you would rather just look at your reports, we’d be happy to help you with the actionability part. Contact us at BusinessHut.com for our Google Analytics Consulting services.