Don’t worry; we have not lost our marbles, just found a new robot spammer.
This is all about corrupted data inside Google Analytics – the free service from Google that can tell you who visits your website, where they came from, and what they looked at.
If you are not interested in website statistics, you can stop reading now and go and watch Ghostbusters on YouTube instead.
We have written previously on the subject of spam bots and ghost referrers, and how to filter them out of your Google Analytics reports. For those of you not familiar with these, you can check whether or not they have been infiltrating your Google Analytics data by using the following simple steps:
1. Set a wide time frame. In the example below we have chosen year to date.
2. Look for ghost referring sites in the Acquisition section of Google Analytics.
Check the list of referring sites for unfamiliar names. We have highlighted some of the most common ones.
3. Look for evidence of spam bots.
Check where the “visits” came from. You are looking for key robot indicators: new sessions are the same number as sessions; the bounce rate is 100% or nearly so; the time on site is zero seconds. This goes to show that the “visits” are not human traffic.
Look for suspicious browser version “visits”. Most of the ones that we have identified are versions of Chrome.
Now look for 100% bounces and zero second visit durations.
If you find the above indicators, you can be sure that the data that Google Analytics is showing you is not an accurate reflection of your true website traffic.
We strongly advise that you create additional views in Google Analytics and set up filters to eliminate this spam and ghost traffic from the data that you use to evaluate the performance of your website. (If you are a Bespoke 4 Business client we will have already done this for you, so don’t worry.)
If you are unsure about creating filters, please contact us.
So what’s new now?
Well, having identified the data corruption in Referral traffic and OS browser versions in the late spring of this year – it hit the USA last summer, so we had some guidance to help us – we have monitored it and updated it over the past months.
The number of ghost referrers that we have identified in the analytics data for the websites that we administer has now reached 41. The most recent are chinese-amezon.com, free-floating-buttons.com and hongfanji.com, so keep a look out for these.
But in recent days we have found spam bot infiltration in an unexpected place inside Google Analytics – Organic Search traffic. Which is where the headline of this article comes from. See below.
So what to do? As we said above, we have been applying filters in Google Analytics for the websites that we create, maintain and monitor. The effect of this on the data is best explained by the examples below, which compare unfiltered data with “true” filtered data.
As you will note, there is an approximately 30% variation in the session volume data, which might mean that all other data can be considered to be 30% inaccurate.
This is especially true of Referring site data:
Postscript: we have just discovered another spam bot inside Organic Search traffic reports, and it’s even weirder than Ghost spam is free from the politics, we dancing like a paralytics.
How’s this for an organic search term?
"vitaly rules google ☆*:.｡.゚゚･*ヽ(^ᴗ^)丿*･゚゚.｡.:*☆ ¯_(ツ)_/¯(•ิ_•ิ)(ಠ益ಠ)(ಥ‿ಥ)(ʘ‿ʘ)ლ(ಠ_ಠლ)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)ヽ(゚д゚)ノʕ•̫͡•ʔᶘᵒᴥᵒᶅ(=^. .^=)oo"
As they say in the media, if you have been affected by any of the issues in this report, please ask for our help and support!