Has Spam Messed Up Your Web Metrics?

Spam has messed up your web metrics

You might not be aware but fake or ghost traffic to your site could be inflating your visitor numbers and sending your performance through the floor.  Marketing managers that rely on regular web performance reports should not be making decisions based on this tainted data.

14% Of Traffic Was Spam

Here’s a real world example from someone that needed help.

  • 14% of all traffic was from spam (782 sessions of 5,355)
  • 42% of their goals were from spam (8 goal completions of 19)

Typical volume of spam traffic found in most Google Analytics accounts.

Let’s hope they were not making business decisions with this data.  This is one of the worst cases we’ve seen however it’s not uncommon to see clients with 5-15% spam traffic which means ROI calculations based on this data is off the same amount.

Have you been affected by spam?

Dig into your Google Analytics account, pull up your favourite report, then apply our free spam segment to see how it affects your metrics.

Set up a spam segment in Google Analytics …

We’ll have to create a segment of traffic that contains spam visitors and compare against all web traffic.  We’ve given you an easy way to create the segment, just follow these steps.

  1. Open Google Analytics
  2. Copy and paste this link into your browser address bar
  3. This will give you a Google Analytics segment that you can apply to your web property. When this option comes up choose the Google Analytics property you want to review.

  4. Customize the segment so that it includes your domain.
    • Open the segment and choose “Edit”

    • You will see many filters under the conditions, but scroll down to the last filter
    • Add your domain here but make sure it’s broad enough, so if your website is http://www.yourdomain.com/, just enter the yourdomain

    • Update the field to your domain and the summary on the right should change to a percent less than 100% at which point you probably have the right filter in place. Here’s an example of what our client’s % of spam showed.

Apply the spam segment to your favourite report …

Now let’s look at what impact this is having on your current metrics.  If you have a very small percentage of spam traffic you might want to stop here, but anything over a few percent is worth a bit of investigation.

  1. Take a look at your most important Google Analytics report, failing that take a look at the Acquisitions → All Traffic → Channels report per below:

  2. Pick these two segments, “All Users” and the new segment “Spam Sessions (Search Warrant 2016-12-15)” as shown below and select ‘Apply’.

  3. Pull up the results

Here’s what we see for one of our clients

  • Spam accounts for 14% of their sessions, and an astonishing 40% of their goals (one of the goals was a view on a landing page, so any spam bot that recorded a visit to one of their key pages showed as a goal conversion)
  • Spam comes and goes over time. Towards the end of this time range the spam volume was increasing. This means you need to keep an eye on spam and update the filters accordingly.  We rely on this team to help us keep up to date and provide premade filters http://help.analyticsedge.com/spam-filter/definitive-guide-to-removing-google-analytics-spam/

Is there a fix?

Yup, but it can be a bit complex so we recommend doing one of the following: