To get real data on your site’s visits, you should remove spam referrals from Google Analytics. This way, you will eliminate all data from spam traffic.
Do you suspect that something is wrong with your Google Analytics reports, and you want to try removing the spam referral? In this guide, I will show you how to clean up your reports from anything that doesn’t concern real data.
How To Remove Spam Referrals From Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a very useful and wonderful tool for knowing all the details about your website traffic. It lets you know how many people visit it, how it happened, how much time they spend and how many pages they visit, and much more.
However, in addition to this valuable information, what is traced is also spam traffic. How to do it, then to remove the spam traffic from Google Analytics reports and then get only data regarding the real traffic?
Why do I have spam traffic on my site?
Bots are automated tools for accessing websites. They are bots, for example, those of search engines, which scan pages and then show a list of results based on the user’s query.
Some, however, are used with misleading or malicious purposes, such as to increase clicks on advertisements, to automatically generate comments or, even worse, to spread malware. Even in the case of spam traffic, we are in front of a bot.
No do not worry! These types of bots are generally harmless, albeit annoying. Here are some tips on how to limit its effects.
How to recognize traffic from referral spam on Google Analytics
First, you need to recognize what data from your reports indicate spam traffic. Very often, the so-called “ghost” visits, that is generated by bots and therefore that do not concern actual visits of users, have:
- Session duration equal to 00:00:00;
- Rebound frequency of 100%;
- Pages per session equal to 1.
- To check if you have visits of this type, from the Google Analytics dashboard go to the – section Acquisition> All traffic> Referral. Make sure that the Source dimension is active in the section just above the table.
In the Source column, you will see all the domains where visits to your site come from, therefore via links on their site, but there are also data on the traffic generated by spambots.
To help you identify this type of traffic, click on advanced and set the search filter like this:
- In the first parameter, select Include ;
- In the second parameter, enter Average session time ;
- In the third field, select Equal to ;
- In the last one, enter the number 0;
- Click on Apply.
Export this report using the top button Export, so you will have a list of all the “suspicious” sources at your fingertips.
Remove Spam Referrals From Google Analytics
If you want to clean up your Analytics reports from spam traffic, you can use the filters that the analysis tool puts at your disposal. You can use automatic filters or manual filters.
“But Andrea … I barely know what Google Analytics is! How are these filters used? ”
No problem! Continue reading and follow the procedures one step at a time. If you find yourself in difficulty, you can always ask for help through the page of our Services.
Automatic filters to exclude bots and spiders
The automatic filter allows you to exclude from the reports all the bots already known to Google, so you will not have to do anything but simply activate a checkbox.
- Log in to your Google Analytics account;
- Join the Administrator ;
- Scroll down to the item Bot filter and check the box Exclude all hits from known bots and spiders ;
- Click on Finish.
Google will exclude from the reports all the spambots that are present in its blacklist. But this does not mean that your reports are now completely free of referral spam.
Custom filters to exclude bots and spiders
For further cleaning, you can set custom filters. In this way, you will be able to exclude all the spam referrals that you have identified in your reports and that have not disappeared after applying the automatic filter.
- From your Analytics account, log in to Administrator ;
- Go to the View > Filters section ;
- Click on the + Add Filter button and name it (for example, Spambot Filter );
- As a filter type, choose Custom, select Exclude and, in the Filter field, enter the value Campaign source (you can find it in the Campaign section or ad group in the list or start typing in the search area);
- In the Filter Pattern field, you will need to enter the domain you identified during your analysis of referral sources, adding a backslash or backslash ( If you want to insert more than one, separate them with a vertical line or “pipe” (|). This field must therefore be filled in using ” regular expressions “, otherwise it will not be correctly interpreted;
- Click now on the link Check this filter to know how your last week’s reports would change by applying the filter;
- Finally, click on Save.
Custom filters to include only valid host names
It may happen that the bots, in addition to coming from “anomalous” sources, also falsify the data relating to the destination. Make a quick check by going to the Public> Technology> Network section and select Host name.
In this table, you should only see the domains for which you have entered your Google Analytics code, because, obviously, it is on your site that visitors should arrive. You could also find domains related to services that somehow connect to your site, like YouTube.
If, on the other hand, you know hostnames that have nothing to do with you, this is probably also spam.
You could then set another type of filter, which allows you to include only valid hostnames, ie those you are sure of.
From your Google Analytics account, join the Administrator ;
- Go to the View> Filters section ;
- Click on the + Add Filter button and give it a name (for example, Valid Host Filter );
- Choose the Custom type, select Include and in the Filter field enter hostname (you can -find it in the Content and traffic section );
- In the Filter Pattern field, enter all the domains for which you are sure you have added your tracking code, again using the backslash before the point and the pipe between one domain and another;
- Click Check this filter and then go to Save.
Remove the spam referral from the Analytics history
Adding filters does not automatically change the history of your data, so if you see the reports for the week, month, year before they are created, you will continue to have incorrect data on your traffic.
Therefore, to remove the spam referral from Analytics historical data you will need to create a segment and apply a filter to the report that interests you.
- From the report you want to consult, click on + Add segment ;
- Give it a name and click on Conditions, in the Advanced section;
- As filter conditions, select Sessions and Exclude ;
- Then, select Source as the first parameter corresponds to RegEx as the second parameter and finally enter the filter pattern you entered to exclude bots when you created the custom filter;
- On the right you will find three buttons: a minus, an O and an E. Use them respectively to remove the filter, add a filter that will work as an alternative to the first, or add a filter that will only work together with the conditions of the first.
- For example, you can add a filter of type “O” with the values hostname, corresponds to RegEx, and then the expression used to include valid hostnames.