Semalt: Is Google Analytics Spam Harmful?
Spam in the Google Analytics accounts is a common problem that always comes in two different forms: bot referral spam and ghost referral spam. Ivan Konovalov, the Semalt expert, explains that the bot referral spam is a collection of real bots that visit your website or blog. The ghost referral spam is the collection of bots that bypass a website and hit the Google Analytics servers directly. They don't actually visit your website, and trick Google Analytics to count the page views and sessions. Hence, the two categories are different from one another. However, both of them can ruin your analytics data to an extent.
How can they hurt our websites or blogs?
First of all, let me make it clear that the Google Analytics referral spam happens when the hackers or spammers try to send fake data to your Google Analytics accounts. They use specific Measurement Protocols to perform this action and collect the IP addresses of a large number of people. They regularly send false page views to the Google Analytics account with the help of your UA tracking IDs, supercharging them with the referral information for the low-quality websites and blogs.
The goal of spammers and hackers is to make you click on their affiliate links, generating lots of revenues from their own ads. They either offer shoddy services or will force you to end up on the suspicious or infectious pages. It is best not to visit the spammer websites or blogs if you want to ensure your safety and protection.
Is Google Analytics spam harmful?
There are no direct harms to your website, besides from the minor amount of hits you receive every day. Also, bots incur in the servers, and the SEO strategies cannot help you block them permanently. Spammers and hackers want nothing more than ranking their own sites in the search engine results and pushing your web pages behind the competition. Thus, they don't have anything to do with your site until or unless they decide to steal your personal information.
Is it actual traffic?
Just to be clear, the Google Analytics referrer spam is not actual traffic. They never visit your website and send fake requests to your analytics accounts via certain bots. They will show up in the Referrer Sites list if you check the Acquisition > All Traffic > Referral area. They increase your site's bounce rate and reduce its conversion rate. Spammers and hackers merely generate any UA-XXXXY-Z property ID and send fake hits or requests to destroy your business on the internet.
What can we do to combat the Google Analytics referrer spam?
You can begin with the essentials: go to the Settings area in your Google Analytics account and click on the "Exclude all hits from known spiders and bots" option. This is the best and most famous initiative by the Google, and you can use this method to fix the problem within seconds. Alternatively, you can create filters and exclude the referrers or edit your .htaccess file and save the settings before closing the window.