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Spam in Analytics

Spam hits in Google Analytics

     
8:22 am on Nov 27, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Google analytics reports visits from some doggie compliance-donald.xyz

What is this all about and how to stop that?
9:26 am on Nov 27, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Without more explicit info, I would guess it's just refer spam. If it is just refer spam, ignore it. You're probably getting more than you realize.

GA is limited in giving the whole picture. To get exact info, look at your raw server logs (not a stats program report page.)
2:21 am on Nov 30, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Indeed keyplyr +, GA could be more precise after all these years :-)
4:34 pm on Dec 1, 2016 (gmt 0)

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It's annoying to me that Google won't retroactively apply filters. They should also cloud-source referral spam.
4:40 pm on Dec 1, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Why crowd-source referral spam?
8:47 pm on Dec 7, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Sorry, forgot to check this thread and notifications are turned off. Do you use Gmail? Do you wonder why it does such a great job at spam filtering? Part of it's algorithm relies on crowd sourcing. If webmasters were able to mark a referral as spam and Google actively filtered entries out, referral spam would go away completely.

Part of the reason that referral spam has gotten so far out of hand is that you can quickly and easily write a bot to crawl around and find Google Analytics IDs. Hopefully Google will deal with it at some point. For now, I've come up with a concrete way to kill off referral spam:

1) Create and delete a few properties to increment your property id. The more the merrier. After you do this a few times, keep one of those properties. The property id is the number after the last dash (-).
2) Remove all instances of Google Analytics from your page, sign up for Google Tag Manager and use that. If you don't want to sign up for Google tag manager, the other option is to encode your analytics id using btoa in a javascript console, copy and past that value into a script, and decode using atob it when your page loads. For example, if your property id is UA-11111111-9, then it becomes VUEtMTExMTExMTEtOQ==

Example analytics code:

 var trackingCode = atob("VUEtMTExMTExMTEtOQ==");
ga('create', trackingCode, 'auto');
ga('send', 'pageview');


Note that I didn't check the above code for typos. The only way they could possibly spam you at that point would be either to a) guess your property id or b) Run their code within the context of your page.
11:10 pm on Dec 7, 2016 (gmt 0)

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The only way they could possibly spam you at that point would be either to a) guess your property


With respect to referral spam, the spammers are not actually spamming you, they are spamming the Google Analytics server. I would be very surprised if the spammers are seeking out property ID's. I would expect more that they are simply cycling through ID numbers. UA-11111111-9, then UA-11111112-0, UA-11111112-1, UA-11111112-2. etc.., If this is in fact the case, then as you noted your method would not solve anything.

If you want to "block" referral spam, you simply set a filter (so technically it is not blocking but filtering) in GA to only show activity from your hostname eg: from www.example.com or example.com. This immediately and completely solves your problem as a site owner. Google serves is still being pinged by the spammers but that is their own problem to solve.
8:09 am on Dec 13, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Not anymore they aren't. I already have a filter in place for those spammers. The latest spammers pull you analytics id and other info right off your site. This means things such as hostname filters stop working.
2:35 am on Dec 14, 2016 (gmt 0)

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This means things such as hostname filters stop working


Are your filters set to exclude any requests that come from a hostname other than you own?
7:18 pm on Dec 16, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Been seeing this for awhile, Russian Google Analytics Referral Spammer coming from what looks like legit domains, even see him using Twitter.

No idea how to block. My traffic from Russia (most non-legit) has increased 72% this year vs. last year. I've even blocked traffic from Russia in my VPS. Still not solution.

It's getting out of control.
7:35 pm on Dec 16, 2016 (gmt 0)

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@jebernier

If what your are seeing is really referral spam, then blocking traffic on your server wont have any effect. Referral spam consists of some third party server pinging the Google Analytics server with your tracking code. GA sees the activity and adds it to your report. But the traffic shown never accessed your server, so blocking or not blocking does nothing. This type of spam is really annoying but utterly harmless and pointless. The only effective way to block it is to set a filter in GA so that it exclude any traffic that does not come from the hostname with your domain.
8:51 pm on Dec 16, 2016 (gmt 0)

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@NickMNS +

But does it increase my visits in GA? I've seen a 72% increase in visits from Russia thus far this year vs. last year?

John
9:06 pm on Dec 16, 2016 (gmt 0)

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@jebernier

If this is referral spam, then the increase in visits in GA are not real. That is, the users never actually came to your website. If you are getting spam traffic from Russia, that is you see the Russian ip addresses in your server logs then that is different situation.

Regardless, I would recommend setting up the filter in GA, it wont hurt anything, and if you see a drop in spam you will know it is working, and otherwise you will have to deal with it differently, like blocking ips.

Small side note, I recommend to create a new property in GA such that you have two (or 3) properties for the same domain. One property with no filters set, one with the filters set, that is used on a day to day basis and one for testing new settings and filters.
 

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