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There’s (Still) Something Rotten In… The Data

It’s Referral Spam, and it’s still causing problems in our reporting. In my previous blog post, I suggested one of the few available referral spam filter options our office found. We liked it because it struck the perfect balance between broadly limiting referral spam reporting without sacrificing potential real traffic. All while being safe enough to prevent long term damage from potential implementation mistakes.

Turns out, the filter solution was not without it’s own problems. Past data couldn’t be filtered, some site structures still filtered real homepage traffic, and (of course) some spammers evolved enough to get past the filter all together. What’s an Analyst to do?

Crowdsource Segments To Decimate Past And Future Referral Spam

Rely on the charity of others of course! We scoured the web and came across this simple referral spam solution from Loganix. Instead of using a set formula to catch and filter referral spam as it is reported, they harnessed the power of Google Analytics’ segments to build an ever expanding (crowdsourced) list that can be applied to any date range! Here’s how to set it up.

The Goods:

Referral spam setup list

Loganix Setup Directions

First, get your copy of the crowdsourced segment:

  • Visit the Loganix landing page and sign up! Don’t worry about giving them your email, they’ll (mostly) use it to keep you updated on new versions of the referral spam filter segment.
  • You should automatically get an email with the subject line “[ACCESS] Your Ghost Spam Removal Tool”.
  • Open said email and use the resources provided to add the segment across your Google Analytics account!

 

Second, apply the spam filter segment across your accounts:

  • You should be able to find the segment inside your segment list across you accounts now. I would recommend “white labeling” it to avoid confusion in your reporting templates.
Loganix Spam Filter In Google Analytics Segments

Google Analytics Segment Dashboard

Third, reap the reporting benefits!

  • As you can see, the referral spam segment can be applied to any date set. Even to way back when we were first seeing problems in June!
Referral Spam Traffic Disparity

Difference Between “All Sessions” And “Spam Filter” Traffic

Nobody’s Perfect:
Referral Spam Segment Formula

Loganix Spam Segment Filter Formula

 

My only complaint with this solution is having to add the actual spam filter segment to reporting before the segment formula pops up. It takes over the whole page, but you do get a good idea of how expansive the exclusion list is!

Stay Vigilant

Google’s Bot Filtering option and Referral Spam Exclusion List are also viable tools in the battle against referral spam.

TheSite Search settingsy give a pretty vague answer as to what they’re doing to keep the bots out, but it’s a relatively new problem and they’re a pretty big organization. It’ll take some time to get a solution fine tuned, but we trust ’em to get it right eventually!

Does my take not “do it” for ya? Try checking out the resources I used to build this post:

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