Conversion Tracking

What is referrer spam? When you are looking at your Google Analytics and you see a bunch of referrals from places like “” and “” or my new favorite “”, what you are seeing is referrer spam. (No, nobody is filing copyright claims against you.) These are not legitimate people visiting your website. It’s basically a bot making repeated requests on your website so that their fake URL will show up in your analytics and you, the unsuspecting and trusting website owner, will click on that link to see who is visiting your site.

Awful, right?

Sometimes it makes me hate people. Why can’t people just stop hacking websites, stop abusing our analytics, and let us run our websites in peace, right?

Why does it matter? Can’t I just ignore it?

Yes. You can ignore it. You know it’s there, it’s always going to be there until Google finds a way to stop it globally (which would be my wish if the Google Gods are watching.) But there are reasons we should try to curb it. Enough of it will skew your analytic data which can affect your own plans and future of your website. If you are reading your analytics, and you decide that you need to change your website based on the patterns of your users, but a lot of that traffic is a result of referrer spam, you might be making the wrong changes.

There are a lot of ways to stop referrer spam. My favorite is in the .htaccess file. This stops it before it even gets to your analytics. You would add something like this to your site:

# Block Referrer Spam
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} duckduckgo\.com/ [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} buttons-for-your-website\.com/ [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ranksonic\.net/ [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} copyrightclaims\.org/ [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} alibestsale\.com/ [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} video--production\.com/ [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} duckduckgo\.com/ [NC,OR]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ - [F,L]

You simply paste this into your .htaccess file, type in your own referrer spam links, and save. Be careful though, one false move in the .htaccess file and you could take down your site. (Back it up first!) I like using the .htaccess block because it totally prevents these users from hitting your site. Makes me feel powerful!

Another option is to use a filter within Google Analytics. You can find info on to do this here and here. This option will filter these users out of your analytics reports, but it won’t stop them from visiting your site, which is why I prefer the first method.

No matter which method you choose, it’s something that will have to continue to be updated. Once and done doesn’t work in this case. I make a point once a month of reviewing my analytics traffic and adding spam URLs to my .htaccess file.

Don’t let spambots ruin your website stats. 

Amy Masson

Amy is the co-owner, developer, and website strategist for Sumy Designs. She's been making websites with WordPress since 2006 and is passionate about making sure websites are as functional as they are beautiful.

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