New “Keyword Referral Spam” Plaguing Your Analytics Reports

Jan 19, 2016

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Referral spam has wrapped it’s nasty tentacles around more Analytics reports. It’s got your good data hostage and will stop at nothing to squeeze all usefulness out.

And as we’ve said before, Google isn’t exactly throwing out the life rafts yet.

Point is, if you’ve ignored referral spam until now, you can’t anymore.

Ghost Spam Sighting: Keyword Reports

Okay, so keyword reports are not terribly useful anymore. Ever since Google shifted most of the referring keyword data to show (not provided), we haven’t been basing important decisions off of this information.

But what this IS doing, is proving an important hypothesis we’ve been developing here on this blog: referral and ghost spam is so damn easy to use (as a relatively easy bottom-dwelling marketing parasite), its use is only going to accelerate.

We’ve seen this demonstrated in several ways:

– Sheer number of referral spammers

– Prior referral spammers re-incarnating to get around exclusion filters

– Spam mutating to stuff fake URLs on page by page reports

Take a look…


Cleaning up the Mess

We’re in this fight for the long haul, and prepared to outlast the siege.

So much so, that since we launched in Sept. ‘16, we’ve already released 22 different versions including 2 major updates removing spam from different sections of analytics..

And so along those lines, we’re pleased to announce that update 2.1.1 features clean keyword reports, like the day your analytics account was born.

Let’s Get Technical for a Moment…

To understand how this new method works, we need to truly grasp the first word in the phrase “referrer spam”. A referrer is a site that refers visitors to your website.  If I’m a spammer, and I put in the referrer, your analytics shows that someone came to your site from ours.     A simple change of the referrer from to now looks like a visitor came to your site from google when they used the search term “”.

The spamming referrers are also the ones spamming organic search, so we just duplicated our segment filter to include the organic search section of analytics as well. Like magic, everything is removed.

We mentioned the “not provided” results that appear in the organic search section of GA, rendering that report near worthless because actual keywords show up only ~10% of the time.    This likely makes it very easy for referrer spammers to just send a basic google search urls and have their spammy keyword get recorded 100% of the time.

It’s always nice when a feature google introduces that’s harmful to webmasters & site owners also makes it easier for spammers to become more visible. Do no harm my ass!

As you can tell, we’re keeping a close eye on every little report you could possibly set up in your Analytics account.

Take The Upper Hand

As always, we’re sharing our powerful spam-repelling lightsaber of truth with all of you.

So get in on the action:

Hand off the toughest tasks in SEO, PPC, and content without compromising quality

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