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Your Google Analytics Data Is Wrong: How to Fix It

In this week's tip we are talking about the spam referrals that are likely skewing your Google Analytics data.

Black and white photo of a spider web with beads of moisture

I know this may be a sad fact to reconcile with, but there's a chance your Google analytics data is incorrect. Here at iBec, the digital marketing team finds about one new spam referral every two weeks that is skewing data on our clientÂ’s sites. It takes some attention to detail to keep track of these spammers, but definitely something that you should be looking into if you are hoping for clean analytics.

A Proper Definition - Referrer Spam

A technique involving repeated website requests using a fake referrer URL to the site the spammer wishes to advertise. The sites that are showing up in your 'referrals' section of your analytics are there to encourage you to visit them in hopes for free advertisement. 

Why Referral Spam Is a Problem

Once spam referrals are in your data, you no longer can look at your data as being an accurate reflection of traffic coming to your site because it’s become obsolete as a  functioning tool for your business goals.

"If youÂ’re making a decision from bad analytics, then youÂ’re making a bad decision."
-Matt Rideout, Marketing Strategist at iBec

How to Get Rid of Spam Referrals

Create a filter or a segment to knock that data out of your analytics. If you find you have too many character to create a filter, see instructions below for reasons to create a segment. Make sure you check "Exclude all hits from known bots and spiders" when looking at your View Settings in Analytics.

The most proactive task you can assign yourself is to constantly keep up with your analytics account. Make a Google calendar alert to remind you to check your analytics on a certain day each week. It’s a good way to both check your site's analytics and referral traffic. For further reading on filters, check out what Google has to say

Creating a Segment

When you’re out of characters in a filter you've created to block spam, the segment feature on your analytics account will come to your rescue. You can segment your data so that you don’t see any spam referrals in your analytics. Below is a snapshot of what your segment should look like. You can even compare data between ‘all sessions’ and your spam removal segment to see how much of your data is being skewed by spammy sites.

DonÂ’t Feel Like YouÂ’re the Only One

Trust us, there are companies out there that thought that their analytics were reflecting true data, when in reality...

  • During the month of March, a client of ours in the food sector received 234 worthless hits from spam referrals.
  • During the months of March and April, a client in the moving business of received 180 extraneous hits from spam referrals.
  • During the months of March and April, a client of ours in the commercial real estate sector received 479 extraneous hits from spam referrals.

We know this is a lot to process. Your traffic may have been wrong this whole time and youÂ’re freaking out! Drop us a line. We'll make it stress-free, fun, and youÂ’ll be getting traffic in no time!


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