Ghost Spam – What is it
Imagine my joy when I looked at my Google Analytics for this site and I had had Organic Search Traffic with only being live for a week – WOHO I thought my SEO is better than even I thought. But alas it wasn’t so – yes I did get some organic search traffic but as you can see from the table below there are some very, very strange referrals which obviously aren’t anything to do with my site and the traffic coming to it. I noticed them on my other site Rainy Day Mum this week so it’s not something that is targeting just new small sites it’s something that is targeting sites globally.
Organic Search Ghost Spam
Let’s have a look to see whether you have the ghost spam as well? So open up Google Analytics – let’s first check for the strange organic search terms above to see whether you are getting false organic search traffic results.
- Open up Google Analytics to your reports
- Click on Acquisitions and channels
- Now Click on Organic Search
- Do you see it www.facebook.xyz, http://website-stealer-warning.hdmoviecamera.net, http://website-stealer-warning-alert.hdmoviecams.com and www.socialbutton.xyz – NONE of them could be anything to do with my site I have posts, on Is your Google Analytics installed twice, All about the new iOS App for Pinterest, Why you need a change log for your site and last weeks on Settings in Search Console that you probably didn’t even know you needed to make. So really nothing to do with my site and things that I wouldn’t be writing about anyhow really.
- All of that is Organic Search Ghost Spam
WHAT HOW DOES THAT WORK!
Yep you’ve asked it haven’t you – how has that search term popped up on your site as surely Google Analytics would know that it wasn’t really coming from Google Search Engine because hey they are both Google RIGHT!
The problem is that Google and Google Analytics aren’t humans – there aren’t millions of people sitting there checking every site out and inputting it manually to make sure that it’s search terms are correct as well as there aren’t people sitting there checking out where you traffic is coming from instead it’s done by programming or algorithms and with tracking code which can easily be foiled I’m afraid.
What you are seeing with your Organic Search Ghost Spam is spam bots which have been coded so that Google Analytics registers them as Organic Search Traffic. But what is even more annoying for you and I is that they actually don’t even hit your site – they don’t visit a page or see an advert on your site they trigger it in Google Analytics but were never actually there. They are false traffic values.
Referral Traffic Ghost Spam
When I saw those results I decided to investigate further and I came upon my referrals in that first table they are the Referrals traffic – all 59 of them. For a brand new site that is quite impressive especially as I’ve not done any commenting, linking up anywhere or even when I look in more depth actually have any good organic search traffic yet that would mean people were searching for me. So I clicked through to the referrers and there again were some familiar names from above plus a few more – 13 referrers and of them only 5 were legitimate.
How to check if you have Referral Traffic Ghost Spam
So let’s quickly check to see whether you have any referral traffic that could be ghost spam.
- In Google Analytics Click on Acquisitions -> Referrals
- In the table, you will see where all of the none organic search (well most of it) and none social traffic is coming from to your site. It’s easy to see with my new site as not many referrals to it. But on Rainy Day Mum I had to check through to the 53rd referrer before I saw my first ghost spam referral.
- Some of it is really obvious ghost traffic social-traffic-6.xyz, website-stealer-warning-alert.hdmoviecams.com and makeprogress.ga
- When you click through you will see that all of the traffic goes to your home page (shown as /) in Google Analytics
- Here’s the same referral source which I found in the Rainy Day Mum Google Analytics and it too goes to my home page.
What effect does this Ghost Spam have on your site
OK – so what actually warrants me writing a post showing you how to find out if you have Ghost Spam on your site and probably causing a panic because it’s there. I want you to look at this from 2 different points.
1 – This traffic maybe showing in your Google Analytics dashboard but it’s never actually visiting your site. Which means if you closely track your ad agency traffic information, or look at a stats in say Jet Pack or other stat software these will be different as the Spam Bots aren’t targeting them
Although it would be great to have had 54 hits from Organic Searches this early on in my site – it’s false and in reality, I have had 8. Which isn’t bad with 4 posts in a specific niche at this point in the blog but is really annoying at the same time.
2 – Just take a look at those bounce rates! – 100% now they are being included in working out my average bounce rate which in the last 30 days has increased to nearly 90%.
WHAT – I work hard trying to reduce my bounce rate, getting people to stay on my site longer and this ghost spam is skewing it drastically – even the quickest in and out post reader doesn’t leave a 100% bounce rate because they actually do pull the page down. This ghost spam is 100% BECAUSE IT NEVER IS ACTUALLY ON YOUR SITE!
Working out approximately how much of a ghost spam problem you have
So you can see it’s there – but how much of a problem is it – how inaccurate are your Google Analytics because of the Ghost Spam.
Well it depends on your site – you can discover how much by a few methods – let’s look at those referrers – here’s a simple way to check. Go on Google Analytics
Click on your Audience
Now the blue link hostname
This table shows you where you Google Analytics code is being hosted – now don’t worry its not really being hosted it’s the code/programming that these spam bots use that makes it look like it is and register it in Google Analytics.
It means that 14.47% of my sessions in the last 30 days on this site have been FAKE – they all have a bounce rate of 100% or 0% so my real bounce rate is much lower than overall more like the bounce rate there of 44.11% instead of the 52.03% which I would quote using my overview stats.
Now next week after I’ve done some digging and chatting I’m going to be showing you how you can filter out and prevent as much is possible this ghost spam.