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Spamming GA with fake keywords

     
2:20 am on Sep 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I have been seeing "fake" keywords every now and again show up in my Google Analytics reports. They are clearly fake because they have no relevance to the topic of the website in general or more specifically to the landing page that is receiving the traffic. As far as I can tell these are bots faking keywords. Like referral spam but instead of spamming the referrer they spam the keyword. The keywords tend to be about trending topics in the media in general. For example tonight the keyword was "US Open Tennis 2018", my site has nothing to do with tennis or any sport for that mater. In my case I only see one or maybe two sessions for any one keyword.

My question is, why? What is the point, what are the spammers hoping to gain? For referral spam one is trying to get the person to go that url, where there might be some malicious code. But why a keyword?
2:42 am on Sept 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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This has been going on for years. I don't use GA but I examine various server records several times a day. I've seen it less and less though.

I always thought it was a predatory tactic to dilute a page's keyword specifics, but now that AI has diminished keyword value, I would think that either the perp is using outdated methodology or there is still enough power in doing so.
5:03 pm on Nov 15, 2018 (gmt 0)

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better try to secure your site
It sounds as if nothing is happening on the site itself, only in GA, which lives on Google's servers and is therefore Google's to secure.

I examine various server records several times a day. I've seen it less and less though.
That sounds like yet another aspect of a widespread shift. Compare referer spam, which originally involved robotic requests visible in access logs, and now is more likely to happen purely at the GA level without anyone ever setting foot on your site.
2:12 pm on Nov 16, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Hi Nick,
The referral spam may be a biproduct of different spam. For example, there are millions of .space domains out there and other new TLDs that have generated billions of adhoc urls on the fly by regurgitating open source content such as Wikipedia. I can't work out WHY, but one theory is that is any of the pages start to rank or otherwise start generating traffic, they could update the content or redirect it instantly to another source where they generate ad revenue or other revenues. In doing this, a biproduct may be that the odd URL starts to gain traction in Google, but is crawled with the OpenSource content, so entirely out of context.
...It's only a theory...
Dixon.
4:09 pm on Nov 16, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@DixonJones I don't know whether what you are describing make sense or not, but it doesn't apply in this specific case because the referral spam I am talking about is showing Google.com as the referrer. Technically this would be better described as "keyword" spam. Which makes even less logical sense.

@Lucy24 I looked into my logs and these requests do not appear. Which means that this a type of "referral" spam, where the spammer are sending request directly to GA. The odd thing is that I have applied a filter in analytics on hostname, only showing data from my domain. This has been, in the past and continues to be, an effective means of blocking referrer spam. But it now appears that the spammers are faking the hostname in their requests to GA.
 

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