A client recently asked me to take a look at a new implementation of Google Analytics on their site. I was surprised to see a low number of visits in the few days since the account had been set up, just a few dozen. Then I realised that the account wasn’t working at all! So how had there been any visits? The answer is that accounts are now being hit by what have been called “ghost referrers” – rogue systems which put data into Google Analytics accounts without ever visiting the site. It didn’t matter that the Google Analytics code wasn’t installed on the site.
This is slightly different to the problem of ‘spambots’ like semalt.com which we’ve covered here before. We now need two types of filter in Google Analytics to defeat this irritating nonsense: the ‘Valid Hostname’ filter and the ‘Campaign Source’ filter. I won’t go through them here, but will instead recommend you read the updated Keep away the spam in Google Analytics with 2 filters article on the Ohow blog. It contains all you need to know (and all you need to do). If you don’t fancy it, one of the readers here used that article author’s service to put the filters in place, and emailed me to say: “I actually tried this yesterday and I would definitely recommend him …and at about £30 it’s excellent value.”