What is Referral Spam in Google Analytics (GA)?

Referral Spam is a technique in which a spam bot makes website requests (visits) leaving a advertisement (URL) within Google Analytics Referral Sources.


What Issue Does Referral Spam Create To Your Dealer Website’s GA?

It creates issues with the reliability and integrity of your data within dealer website’s Google Analytics account. Each time your dealer website is hit with a spam referral bot, it creates a Referral Visit under Acquisition.


How Do You Spot Referral Spam?

Referral Spam is easy to spot and eliminate within your dealer website’s Google Analytic account.

  1. Within Google Analytics, Go To Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals
  2. Within your Referral Sources look for ‘odd’ referrals like, free-social-buttons.com, sanjosestartups.com, ilovevitaly.com, Get-Free-Traffic-Now.com, event-tracking.com, etc.
  3. If you find Referral Spam within your Referral sources on your dealer website, please proceed to the removal section. Don’t worry, it’s an easy fix.


How Do Your Remove Referral Spam from Dealer Website’s Google Analytics?

There are several ways to remove spam from GA, but most involve from this point forward (ban IPs, add Filter with GA, etc). This method below removes all spam from the beginning of time.

  1. I’ve created a “Segment” within GA that excludes all spam by source. It’s the easiest method that is shareable across accounts. Click This Link -> https://www.google.com/analytics/web/template?uid=ioOp4kw0SESVPiVBNKysTg
  2. This link will create a new Segment within your GA account. Leave “Any View” selected, and name the segment whatever you want (I put *** in front to put it at top of the list).
  3. Now return to your Reporting within dealer website’s Google Anayltics, and click the “+ Add Segment” button (located at the top).
  4. Uncheck “All Sources” and check “*** – Remove Spam”. Note: You can leave All Sessions checked and it’ll give a Before/After view of the Remove Spam Segment.


Now, The Results…

With the Segment removing Referral Spam, we now see a difference of 743 Sessions in a 30-day period. Additionally, our Bounce Rate, Pages / Session, and Avg. Session Duration is back in-line with what we should be seeing on our dealer website.

Chad Sabatka

Chad Sabatka is the President and Founder of Steering Innovation. Steering Innovation offers Progressive, Responsive Websites for the Innovative Dealership, Advanced Dealership SEO, Reporting, Analytics, & Strategy Meetings, and a custom approach to your dealer website. Chad brings extensive knowledge of data analytics, digital marketing, website design, usability, user experience, and development to Steering Innovation. With 11 years of professional experience, Chad prides himself of bringing outside experiences to the automotive world implementing fresh ideas and outside influences to the design and user experiences dealership websites.

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