New Spam Referral Sites

New Spam Referral Sites Hitting Sites Worldwide

So since March I’ve started noticing an influx of referrals for a number of my clients, which naturally caused me took look closer at the referring sites. Sure enough, I started to see a number of the same referrers appearing in Google Analytics for almost all my clients, including this site. Here’s what to check for and how to deal with the issue.

So firstly, the spammy referring domains I’ve noticed so far are:

  • googlsucks.com
  • simple-share-buttons.com
  • buttons-for-website.com
  • theguardlan.com
  • best-seo-solution.com
  • best-seo-offer.com
  • Get-Free-Traffic-Now.com
  • darodar.com
  • hulfingtonpost.com
  • generalporn.org

I will update this list as and when I identify more.

How to check if your site is being hit with referral spam

In order to identify spammy referrals from sites like these, you need to check your Google Analytics Referrals report:

Google Analytics Referrals Report

Spammy Referrals In Google Analytics

Some of my client’s sites saw visits from all of the referral spam domains I’ve identified, others just from some. But it’s likely they will all start appearing sooner or later so it’s best to take precautionary action even if you don’t see any of the listed referrers in Google Analytics.

But what’s the problem?

Spammy referrals might not seem like a problem; after all, they’re just sending visitors to your site right? Wrong. There are two good reasons why blocking referral spam is a worthwhile exercise:

  1. They skew your tracking data, bringing down engagement rates and falsely boosting your traffic stats. These referrals don’t engage with your site and often register as having spent 00:00:00 on your site. This means they always bounce back, dragging your Bounce Rate up and bringing engagement stats down.
  2. They are using valuable bandwidth, and if too many spam referrals hit your site at once they could even overload your server if you don’t have a fast enough server with enough bandwidth. This is naturally a bigger problem for smaller sites but can have a big impact on larger sites too if enough spam fires at once.

How to deal with spam referrals

There are two main things you should do to handle spam referrals, essentially one that deals with each of the issues listed above.

Filter out the spammy referrers in Google Analytics

To start with, you can set up filters in your Google Analytics profile to stop data from the spammy referrers being reported.

Important note: before adding any filters to your main Google Analytics view, be sure that you have a second “Raw Data” view set up with no filters on. This will ensure you can always view true data and if you set up filters incorrectly you have data that is still tracking. When you add or remove filters, they become active immediately but do not affect past data which cannot be recaptured after filtering, so a backup Raw Data profile is always recommended.

To set up referral filters, navigate to the “Admin” section of Google Analytics and select “Filters” under the rightmost “View” section:

Raw Data View In Google Analytics

Once in the Filters section, create a new filter of the “Custom” type and select “Referral” as the exclude filter field. Name your filter something sensible such as “Exclude xyz.com” and enter the domain you are looking to filter out in the “Filter Pattern” field.

Creating A Referral Filter In Google Analytics

Then simply click Save and your done! Repeat this for each spammy referral site until you have a number of filters set up.

Block the referring domain via .htaccess

Stopping the traffic from appearing in Google Analytics is only half the battle. Just because Google isn’t showing you the data, it doesn’t mean that the referrals aren’t still flooding to your site, delivering useless fake traffic and eating into your bandwidth. The only way to stop this is to block the domain completely from the server.

Here I will describe how to do this with a .htaccess file, but of course these are only supported on Apache servers. For Windows servers, you need to create a server side script to block the domains.

Blocking referrals from spammy domains via your .htaccess file is actually relatively easy. All you need to do is add the following code into your .htaccess file and upload it to the root of your domain, replacing the example domain with the domain you want to block. This code simply points the domain straight back to where they came from!

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://([^.]+\.)*spammyreferralsite\.com [NC]
RewriteRule (.*) http://www. spammyreferralsite.com [R=301,L]

Repeat this for each domain you want to block, and voila!

Have you been hit by any of these or other spammy referral sites? Let me know in the comments!

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2 thoughts on “New Spam Referral Sites Hitting Sites Worldwide

  1. Hey Emma! Thank you, this was really useful as I was beginning to increasingly get more spam traffic.

    I’ve noticed these sites below are also generating spam traffic – however I’ve also noticed that the session duration tends to be 1-3 minutes rather than it bouncing right back off the site.

    site4.free-share-buttons.com
    site3.free-share-buttons.com
    buy-cheap-online.info
    http://www.event-tracking.com
    site2.free-share-buttons.com
    http://webmaster-traffic.com

    Some of them appear to just be sub domains of free-share-buttons, so hopefully they’ll be filtered out.

    Thanks again 🙂

    1. Thanks Cat, they look like spam referrers too. I have noticed some that appear to stay on the site for a period of time, but none that actually engage. Have you found they have viewed multiple pages or taken any actions?

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