If you don’t have a fundamental understanding of how Google Analytics data is collected and filtered, however, it’s easy to misinterpret your website’s statistics. Google Analytics and other analytics platforms report website data indiscriminately, which means that users are responsible for filtering out any unwanted data.

Common Sources of Unwanted Data

Unfortunately, most websites accumulate phony “visits” from misbehaving web crawlers and other automated spam techniques. If you haven’t created filters to exclude these visits, then your Google Analytics data doesn’t accurately reflect how many real people have visited your website.

Most web crawlers (such as Googlebot, which indexes your site for Google searches) visit your site without any detection. Spam web crawlers do the opposite, purposely appearing in your Google Analytics reports as a form of free advertising. Don’t give spammers what they want! If you see a suspicious source of referral traffic, do some research before visiting the referring website.

Another way spammers infect your Google Analytics data is through “ghost traffic.” Rather than sending a web crawler to your website, “ghost traffic” is created by simply pinging your Google Analytics account number at random. This process records a visit even though no human or robot actually visited your website.

Pretty frustrating, right? It’s important to remember that web analytics spam isn’t just a Google problem. All website analytics services face the same dilemma: how to reduce spam traffic without eliminating legitimate traffic. It’s a thin line that Google can’t cross because traffic that is considered spam for one site might have value to another. In the end, data can always be filtered and segmented, but it cannot be recovered if eliminated at the source.

Google Analytics Spam Solutions

There are many resources online detailing the best ways to eliminate spam web crawlers and ghost referral traffic from your Google Analytics reports, so we won’t rehash those tactics here. This blog post from Viget’s Ben Travis is particularly useful because it includes a periodically-updated list of known spam websites and sources.

If you’re not confident in your ability to clean up your web analytics reporting, consider hiring a qualified internet marketing team to compile and deliver your monthly reports. At August Ash, our internet marketing team works tirelessly to remove referral spam, ghost traffic, and other unwanted data from our clients’ monthly web analytics reports. We offer a variety of internet marketing plans, so feel free to give us a call to discuss your needs today.