Referral spam in Google Analytics has been an issue for a while now. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of posts on how to block the spam from interfering with reports, but after putting in place referral spam filters and checking the “Exclude all hots from known bots and spiders,” these two methods didn’t really seem to help. I would have to go in and set-up an advanced segment, as well, so that the client could get a clear story from their Google Analytics account. Add this to having to explain this issue to every client and why these are our only options, referral spam has become more than just a pain in the tush.
Was There an Update?
However, here recently, in updating new client Google Analytics accounts to block referral spam, I started to notice that the spam had taken a drastic drop for multiple clients that had filters in place already. When I started doing a bit more digging, it was very clear that the date of referral spam decrease was January 14, 2016.
When comparing January 14-28, 2016 to December 30-13, 2016, on our own site total referral traffic was down -93%. That would make anyone’s heart drop at first, but when I dug in a bit more, it was all referral spam that was gone. When looking at some of our clients, I was seeing anywhere from a -20% to -95% decrease in referral traffic.
I’m hoping this was indeed an update and all the extra steps we have to take to block referral spam can be a thing of the past.
What do you think?