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"referral Exclusion List" Vs Filters What Is The Best Way To B

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#1 WaldenPond


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Posted 14 July 2015 - 09:26 AM

I would like to know the best way to block spam referral spam, and yes I realize "best" is a fluid term.


Most people seem to recommend filters, yet google has created a "referral exclusion list" which looks easy to setup. However, there's no way to recover from a mistake. So perhaps this is the "simplest" and  not the best.


Eager to hear any comments on the subject.





#2 chrishirst


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Posted 14 July 2015 - 03:18 PM


#3 Michael Martinez

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Posted 14 July 2015 - 04:12 PM

That discussion is probably outdated and not very relevant to most of the referral spam people are seeing today.


We have two widespread problems people are dealing with.


First is the SEMalt botnet, which appears to use infected machines around the world to fetch pages from a Website.  My guess is they are using actual browsers to load pages (maybe with a pre-fetch) in the background, so all the scripts are fired.  Contacting SEMalt and asking to be excluded only invites more traffic from their network.


Worse, they appear to be selling this service to other sites, or maybe they have a large affiliate/lead generation network of their own.  So you have to block the referrals by domain, which is tedious.  You can do this in an Apache ".htaccess" file or a Microsoft IIS configuration file (I am not sure which one).  It is best to block just the root domain in the form of "example.com" so that all variations on subdomains are also blocked.


The second form of fake traffic referral is targeting Google Analytics.  These guys apparently come in to your site, grab a page, extract the GA publisher ID, and then from that time forward just invoke the GA script remotely without ever visiting your site again.


There is nothing you can do on your own Website to block this behavior.  Instead you have to add filters for each fake referral domain to the Google Analytics account that is being targeted.  You want to filter on the basis of the domain name.


These filters only affect the collection of data going forward.


Google has acknowledged the problem and they say they are working to find a way to defend your analytics data against this fakery.  There is no estimated time of delivery for such a solution.  So far Google's efforts to fight rogue crawlers and botnets has been ineffective (in my opinion).

Edited by Michael Martinez, 14 July 2015 - 04:13 PM.

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