what is referrer spam

An essential component of any digital marketing campaign, is the analysis of your website data.  Website traffic data is a key metric to analyse, this will help you to gain  insights about your visitors by discovering their geographic locations, browsers, visitor flow etc.

 

You’ll know doubt spend a lot of time not only going through your Google Analytics,  web server logs and if you’re making use of JetPack site statistics analysing your data to squeeze out whatever performance you can from your website.

 

If you do this analysis on a regular basis, you’ll undoubtedly come across referrals to your website from sites like:

 

You might be tempted to visit these sites to find out a little more about them. Only to find you’ve wasted your time!  These sites are what are commonly known as Referrer spam
 

What is a referrer?

 

A referrer is anything online that directs visitors to your website.  These could be search engines, links on other websites, banner adverts,  emails or anything else that redirects users to your website.

 

Referrer is a property of the HTTP request object sent by the browser to a web server identifying either the URL, IP Address or name of the website  used to direct users to a Web page.
 

Referrer Spam

 

Referrer spam is unique that is designed to show up in a analytics dashboard to be visible to the website administrator.  It shows up as traffic referral, search term or a direct visit.

 

Spammers often change this to a site url they want to promote, and send multiple requests to your site.  The intention is for the URL to show up in your your reports.  Enticing the Website Administrator to go visit the site to find out more about it.   This is what they are counting on,  this is designed to increase site traffic to the site in question.  The truly cunning ones will direct you to an online store or filter you through an affiliate link that installs a cookie and nets them a cut of revenue when you purchase something.   The really malicious ones will direct you to a site that could potentially try to  install malware on your system.

 

Why does it affect you?

 

Apart from being totally annoying and incredibly malicious, it also screws up your analytic data, disrupting your marketing data.

 

If the bots are actually targeting your website directly, then they will cause a drain on your web server resources and potentially slowing down your site for your real customers.
 

How do you stop Referrer Spam ?

 

Firstly there are two types of referrer spam.  Read types of referrer spam  to understand more, but basically there is Illegitimate Bots and Ghost Referrers.

 

To block Illegitimate Bots on your WordPress site, you can simply download and install our free WordPress Plugin Stop Bad Bots

 

If you are not using WordPress and would like to block illegitimate bots  or would like to filter out Ghost referrers in your Google Analytics

 

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Gary Woodfine

Helps businesses by improving their technical proficiencies and eliminating waste from the software development pipelines.

A unique background as business owner, marketing, software development and business development ensures that he can offer the optimum business consultancy services across a wide spectrum of business challenges.
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