Getting that semalt.com referrer out of Google Analytics

UPDATE July 2015: This is a never-ending topic. For the latest ideas, we recommend you read this article on the Moz blog instead.


Although your website analytics application (such as Google Analytics) will probably be very smart at detecting – and ignoring – the constant access by “robots”, some do get through. And they can mess up your statistics by adding a lot of “visits” which aren’t real. Looking through our clients’ Google Analytics accounts in the past few weeks, I’ve seen an epic example surfacing called semalt.com, which appears in the referring sites list for many companies. However, it’s not a site which is sending you real people, so you want it out of your website data. Here’s how to do it.

(If you’re wondering what semalt.com is, apparently it’s some sort of keyword monitoring service, but unlike most robots, it does trigger the Google Analytics script on your page.)

What we’re going to do is to set up a “filter” in Google Analytics. The important thing to remember about filters is that they don’t work retrospectively, so get yours set up as soon as you can. If you need to get rid of semalt.com from your historic data, you’ll need to create a segment and exclude semalt.com from traffic sources.

Here goes then. Click “Admin” at the top of the page in Google Analytics, then select the “view” you’re using in the third column. Click “Filters” and “+ New Filter”, then set up the filter as shown below. Click “Save” and you’re done!

semalt

UPDATE: It’s generally agreed that although selecting “Referral” as shown above will work, selecting “Campaign Source” is better.

(Yes, that is a backslash in “Filter Pattern”)

The same technique can be used to exclude traffic from other undesirable sites. You may have more of these than you think: one good way to find them is to look at Audience > Technology > Network and then look for sources with a significant number of visits but “100%” in the bounce column.

Discussion

  1. Matt Tichbon

    I saw this for the first time in our Analytics for Feb; good to know it’s just junk and can be excluded. I’ve been trying to research it to work out why it’s sending us people, but I guess it’s actually not.

  2. Matt Tichbon

    Stupid question but it should exclude historical numbers, right? I’ve applied the filter as you outlined but my Feb numbers are unchanged and semalt.com is still listed under Referrals (and yes, I added the backslash).

  3. Chris Rand Post author

    Hi Matt – no, filters don’t work retrospectively. This sounds a bit of an annoyance, but there are some very good reasons for this. To analyse your historic traffic under specific constraints, you can use the “segments” feature of Google Analytics.

  4. Tania

    I love that these instructions are so simple and easy to follow but…when I do the above, I get an error message “One or more fields contain invalid data. Please fix and submit again.” I’m certain I’ve followed your instructions to the letter, any suggestions. Simplistic ones preferably. Thanks very much.

  5. Tania

    That would be fantastic, thanks very much. Quite possibly just me being dim but perhaps not.

  6. Tania

    Typical computers, I tried again and this time didn’t get the error message! Thanks for your offer to help, looks to be sorted now and I look forward to not seeing Semalt in future.

  7. Janet

    Thanks — glad to find out that this isn’t legit traffic. Very annoying — why they had to hit us up 13 times in 1 week.

  8. sdrucker

    This process isn’t working for me. I keep getting referrals from semalt.semalt.com, even though I did all the steps perfectly as described above. Is there something else I should try? I don’t get why it isn’t working? And no, this is not because of the retroactive hits, I did this 2 weeks ago, and I’m still getting semalt.semalt.com referrals.

  9. Chris Rand Post author

    Hi Simone – if you want to email me a screenshot of your filter – chris@bmon.co.uk – I’ll certainly take a look, but it’s worked for plenty of people.

  10. Eva

    Finally! A solution to get rid of them. I will be more than happy not to see them, as they are just messing up the statistics.

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