Google Analytics referral spam has long been a pain point for Google Analytics users. While Google had previously promised a solution last year, until now, users had to resort to many workarounds in an attempt to sanitize Analytics from showing all the spam. But as of this weekend, many people were reporting that Google Analytics referral spam is no longer showing up in reporting.
The change does not appear to be retroactive, as I do see referral spam still in Google Analytics in January. But as of February, it seems that Google has finally solved the Google Analytics spam problem, as it appears no referral spam shows up – at least none of the commonly known ones.
It does still seem to show referral spam in the real time view. So it appears Google Analytics is somehow applying a filter after the fact to remove those referral spam URLs before it hits the acquisition reporting.
But for that particular referral that shows up for a ton of SEO industry sites, the last time it shows up in acquisition logs in Google Analytics is mid-January.
Referral spam gains traffic by hoping that site owners will click through on those referral sites in order to see what it was that brought visitors to the site. While no links – or real traffic – came from these sites, they could still see traffic from webmasters who checked. And Google Analytics wasn’t previously able to tell that it was referral spam and not a real person.
This means that for the month of February, site owners will be able to analyze their logs without all the referral spam skewing the data. But it could also seem that traffic dropped once the referral spam is gone… but since this is not real traffic, it isn’t a true loss.
This is amazing news for webmasters who have been annoyed by continually having to filter out all the spam. Now we will see if referral spammers figure out how to beat the new filter.
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