You may have noticed a dramatic increase in not only your website visits but also your bouncerate over the last few months. Whilst your visits are likely to be increasing naturally due to the work that we are performing on your websites – part of the spike will be an artificial increase caused by ‘ghost traffic’.
What is Ghost Traffic?
Ghost traffic is the number of false visits generated in your Google analytics. There are a few websites which create false visit entries in your Google analytics account and get recorded as visits in it.The matter of fact is they have never visited your website. As we can feel them (in GA), but they don’t exist in reality, it’s called “Ghost Traffic”.
How To Identify Ghost or Spam Referral Traffic?
There are a few notorious websites which send such referral traffic to your site. To identify whether you are one of the victims or not visit your traffic sources in GA. If you see any unusual keywords in organic search or any unusual URLs in your referral tab, then you are the victim of these ghosts. The most common keywords used at the moment are:
‘google officially recommends ilovevitaly.com search shell resellerclub scam.’
The spam referral websites are:
Why is this happening?
It is happening because there is a loophole in Google Analytics. Here is the methodology these spammers are using.
They run an automated script which is similar to search-bots which starts crawling random websites and its pages which leads them to other webpages.
This creates a false visit entry in Google Analytics.
Why are they doing this?
Well, this must be the question in 99% of people reading this or faced these ghost visits must be having in mind. There can be two reasons.
Just for fun or just to show how intelligent they are.
They are getting loyal traffic by doing this. How? Well, as a webmaster whenever you will find a new or unknown referral traffic, it’s obvious you will visit the referral website and navigate to check how you are getting the traffic from there? Where is your link placed? This will keep you on their site and also make you returning visitors in many cases. So the people who are doing this can be those Black Hat SEO people who guarantee a number of loyal visitors. (We must admire the intelligence of them. I wish they had used it in the right way.)
How To Get Rid of It?
Honestly speaking, it’s very difficult to get rid of it. Many webmasters advised me to disavow those links, but the fact is disavowing those links will make no difference because there isn’t any backlink or actual visit.
The two possible solutions are as below:
Create filters for each spam referral.
It’s very difficult and time consuming process because you have to add separate filters for each spam website and query which is going to be changed in a few days.
Create a filter for invalid hosts
It means you can create a filter by hostname. The filter should allow only known hostnames to send traffic to your analytics. Again, it is very tricky and asks for extra care because a wrong move might end up in filtering useful data.
Note: Once you filter the data, you will never get it back. So be careful when using filters, try to create mirror account and apply filters in that.
Is Ghost Visit Harmful? Can It Affect SEO Rankings or Any Other Related Factor?
The most important question, right? The straightforward answer is “No”. The Google webspam team considers no data or information from Google Analytics. So these ghost visits can only do one thing and that’s horrifying you with their existence, nothing else 🙂
How Will It Affect Your SEO Efforts?
As I said there is no direct consequence of these visits, but you use the GA data for analysis, it can misguide you. I mean you might often see a fluctuation in traffic and bounce rate in your reports which might misguide your efforts, specifically for startup or novice SEOs.
What Is The Solution?
The simple solution is “Ignore”. Just ignore such unusual visits. Whenever you use the information for research, use advance report tools and exclude the ghost traffic. It will help you to analyse the right data. So you can focus in the right direction.
What Is The Permanent Solution?
That’s not in our hands at the moment. We need to wait for Google to take action against this and provide some security in GA. Once Google has fixed the exploit in Google Analytics, the stats will return to normal levels.