Discussion  - 
 
Hey we've been putting together a list of the spam bot referrals you see in GA that need to be excluded.

There are now over 25 GA filters required to remove the 400+ spam referral domains!!! Going forward we suggest you use this amazing spam filter tool from Simo Ahava, http://www.simoahava.com/spamfilter/. It does all the hard work for you (yay!).

***UPDATE 5th January 2016 - Advanced Segment Updated Below***

If you’d like to take a clean look at your historical data then use this segment template, https://analytics.google.com/analytics/web/template?uid=w0rUPaR7TQib0wqY7Wjrww
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riina tougu's profile photoJean Jensen (Baronen)'s profile photoStu Bowker's profile photoJon Insley's profile photo
105 comments
 
Nice one, thanks for that!

As of late I'm getting a handful of this bloody lumb.co on a daily basis - already sent it to hell!
 
That semalt.com is skewing our traffic! Thanks so much for the list - it's super helpful!
 
Yeah, these drive me crazy. Especially when I do not have full access to Analytics to filter them :)  Here's the ones I had, I didn't have the domain extension on mine:
54.186.60.77
medispainstitute
sq01
alienpayday
artobox
axisalternativementalhealth
econom.co
ilovevitaly
priceg.com
 
The only way is to block via Ht access I guess. Filters don't block some of these. And to prevent them for your website, block them via htaccess by putting below code into your .htaccess file.

# block visitors referred from econom.co
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} econom\.co [NC]
RewriteRule .* – [F]
# End econom block
 
+Tiaan Van Zyl , yes I have. Bizarrely, and listen to that, it showed up in a GA view whose javascript code hasn't even been implemented on the site yet! I created a new account and consequently a new property and view, which is to be used as a rollup one, but nothing has been implemented yet - I'm the only person in the business to have access to it. Then, suddenly, traffic began to flow in, although not much. When I checked, it was from this plague. How is it possible? No idea.

+Yu Hui Balasingam-Chow , thanks for the link. I'll share it with the IT guys here.  
 
+John Kapelakis , this is not always true, and +Analytics Edge (Mike - I can't find your personal Google+ ID) mentions that in the article.

"If you can, and know how, blocking the visits from your web server would be better. On an Apache web server, this would be done by modifying the .htaccess file."

However, in some cases this method doesn't work, as Mike explains.

"The latest arrivals (darodar.com / econom.co / ilovevitaly.co) have been what I call “ghost referrals” because they actually NEVER VISITED YOUR SITE."

Mike, for the second example you suggest create an include filter with valid hostnames only, i.e. all hostnames where my GA ID lives.

These websites, like darodar.com, appear as referrals (at least in my accounts) and not as one of my valid domains - if the latter was the case I'd see darodar.com page path in my All Pages report.

So, my question: how will this include filter work? I'm sure I'm missing something, so I hope you don't mind the question.

Cheers! 
 
Thanks for your input guys. Looks like there is no perfect solution. If you find any more please keep us updated.
 
No problem. By what I've seen so far, I believe the best approach is either to exclude those server side or via an exclude referral filter - or both. 
 
I agree both is probably best. It's a shame we have to spend our time doing this but it's got to be done.
 
+Ranyere Rodrigues The include filter basically says ONLY accept visits that actually logged a visit on my website or on domains that I authorized. For example, if you have a YouTube channel and add your Google Analytics tracking ID to your channel settings, you authorize youtube.com to submit tracking information from visits to your channel. Other websites should not be using your tracking ID, so you exclude them all by doing this.

Ecommerce sites will need to include their shopping cart site and payment sites like paypal and shopify. Hosted websites may need to use the hostname of the web hosting company -- best to check a report showing hostname of your current visits over the past year to see what your typical hostnames are.
 
Thanks for replying!

Sure, I get that. The fact is that all of these sites (or the majority) are showing as referrals which by definition are unaffected by this include host name filter.

Would you agree?
 
Hostname is NOT the referral domain -- it is associated with the page VIEWED. Normally hostname is your websserver. If you have multiple webservers sharing the same tracking ID, like I do, then you would see each server listed (like help.analyticsedge.com and www.analyticsedge.com). Ecommerce site would see their shopping cart or payment provider domains because they host pages to be viewed there.

The spam referrals, since they don't actually visit your site and are simply using your tracking ID, and they pick a hostname to use -- like co.lumb.co, or apple.com. Since I don't have any pages on apple.com, I know none of those pageviews are real, and I can exclude them. Rather than create a filter to exclude apple.com, co.lum.com, icalc.ilovevitaly.com, ilovevitaly.co, etc, I can create an include filter with my domains in it and not worry about what he uses next.

Make a custom report on your unfiltered view, and show hostname and full referrer to see your mix.
 
Thank you loads for the explanation, Mike! I'm just trying to understand how it works.

Agreed on the first paragraph. This is clear.

On the second, you say in the article that spam referrals reach my site by using the measurement protocol. You suggest create an include filter on hostname. But these spam referrals show up in my REFERRALS report. So, how would a hostname filter affect entries in my Referrals report? Just that I'm trying to understand.
 
The "filter" that I am talking about is a View Filter, which is created in your GA Admin - View - Filters setup.  It filters all the sessions based on the rules you create.  It is kind of like a segment, but it processes the hits as they come in rather than in your reporting. By filtering out the bad data before it gets in, none of your reports are affected.

I ave updated by blog article several times, adding more and more information as I realize people have more questions. One of the items I added earlier today was a link to Google's instructions to view filters, which probably explain it better than I am:
https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1033162?hl=en
 
Okay about the view filter, that's what I thought.

Maybe I'm just mixing up things as you mention spam REFERRALS and I associate these with the spam traffic I see in my REFERRALS report,
 
I think we are talking about the same thing -- the Acquisition - All Traffic - All Referrals report. But really it is all of the reports that are affected by the "spam" traffic, which is why they are so annoying. If all they did was list a fake referral, everyone would ignore them, but they affect site bounce rate, pageviews, total sessions and users, time on site....everything. You need to remove the visit from your data.  

Those visits include a lot of data associated with them. You can filter by city, or by referrer, or by browser. I noticed that the "ghost referral" visits use a hostname that is different from all of my regular traffic. Because there have been so many variants over the past month, I feel it is easier to create a filter that lets IN the good traffic and just locks out everything else. The fact that the traffic it is removing happens to be a referral from X or Y or Z is irrelevant to the filter - it is not "good" traffic, so ignore it.

They could just as easily fake search traffic with keywords that make you go to their site, or ecommerce transactions that show you sold products you don't sell, or a bunch of pageviews of pages with their brand name in them. [What would Google make of 100,000 website owners all searching for the same brand name all of a sudden? Great way to increase you page rankings!]

"Good" traffic hits my servers (hostnames). Throw away the rest.
 
Great, I think I'm with you now.

I'm excluding spam traffic server side (htaccess) and with an exclude referrals filter in GA, and so far so good.

No instances of spam traffic showing as one of my valid hostnames - otherwise I could use your hostname filter suggestion.
 
Anyone think that +Google Analytics needs to fix this on their end and start filtering these referrals themselves? Why have a million webmasters playing whack a mole? 
 
This will literally NEVER end - because these guys have realized they can easily get plenty of backlinks and a few hundred thousand webmasters to visit their sites by spamming GA. You will be filling your htaccess with pages and pages (incrementally slowing your sites down btw) of garbage referrers and maintaining hundreds of filters a few years from now unless this is fixed on Google's end. For some of us running hundreds of sites - the existing solutions are unworkable.
 
Hey guys have updated my original post to include an updated list of sites to exclude.
 
Since the latest spam is actually faking a google search visit with false search keywords, and since no one really wants to exclude "google/organic" from their sources, the valid hostname include filter is a better approach (or excluding by city/country/network domain).
 
finally! i block the hole russian federation! my focused market is germany! no disturbing spamer anymore!!! ;)
 
I have a meeting with the Google Analytics team this week. I think i am going to bring up this issue with them. :) 
 
thank you sir! i just started see that one a couple of days ago. I laughed at the name.
 
+Linda Lawton that would be amazing! Please keep us updated with their response/feedback.
 
Wait, you were being serious about Huffington Post? 
 
+Stu Bowker Is there any intro to these obscure terms? Filters? Campaign source? This makes no sense to the 100s of thousands of people like me who have websites but aren't experts. Yes, I get PVs every day from the Ukraine buttons-for-websites site. How can I get rid of it? Where are there step by step instructions?
 
Thanks guys for your continued support, the list in the original post has been updated, we're now up to 33!!! Keep up the good work.
 
Sadly another 5 sites added to the list today. Have updated my original post.
 
Hi +Linda Lawton did you mention this referral spam problem to the GA team when you met with them in January? What was there response?
 
Then said someone was probably looking into it. Which I found to be very vague personally but they wouldn't say more. 
 
Perhaps there's an opportunity for someone like +narrativescience to do something? I was amused to see that one of the Quill Engage reports cited bestwebsiteawards as leading referrer last month.
 
In addition to pulling these referrals out of your Analytics, it is also possible to block them at the web server level.  Especially when you manage a lot of sites, this makes it easier.  Would love to forward all of this traffic straight to FBI or something.
 
Has anyone considered yet.   What would happen if people started randomly inserting stuff in to your Analytics account?     Can we even be 100% sure the data is correct anymore?
 
You're right +Linda Lawton. I think this is where a hostname inclusion filter might be essential, i.e. only activity that took place on my domain. I don't think there's a way to fake hostname (or at least I hope there isn't).
 
I have a feeling that you can fake almost anything by using the Measurement Protocol to send data direct into a GA property. +Phil Pearce regularly presents on the subject of all the nasty 'black hat' things people can do to your data.
 
Likewise. I've got a relatively low traffic portfolio website and this referral spam is really messing up my stats! 
 
Thanks Carlos, I'm just updating my list just now having trialled using these lists to filter out these pesky spammers from one of our GA profiles last month, so I'm very grateful to have some extra ones to add.

Can I just ask one, perhaps silly, question?  Why does the list these comments are associated with give the spam referrers list as actual links? Isn't that likely to give them more publicity? Is it so that others suffering from their activities can find the list more easily?
 
Hi +Liz Leigh, glad you're getting some value from the list. Regarding your question (which isn't silly), they're links because Google+ recognises that they're web addresses and automatically turns them into links. It's certainly not our intention to give them more publicity.

If you find any more spam sites please share them with us here and don't forget to spread the word too.
 
Hi Stu, yes I am. Carlos has some updates as you see above. The ones I've added from his list and two I came across in a client account today (which I strongly suspect are spam referrers because of the names and the 100% bounce rate). I didn't add all of Carlos' as I'm not sure it's necessary to add on subdomain versions as well as the main ones - doesn't seem to have been necessary from the results of my test so far. Here's a note of the additions so that you can add them to the list:
social-buttons.com
s.click.aliexpress.com
humanorightswatch.org
o-o-6-o-o.com
adcash.com
o-o-8-o-o.com
lombia.com
econom.co
Ishalko.ru
superiends.org
prlog.ru
luxup.ru
cityadspix.com
gobongo.info
mpftpupload.com
iskalko.ru
get-free-traffic-now.com
best-seo-solution.com
best-seo-offer.com
The last two are the ones I found.
 
Not a lost day altogether since we have your watchful eyes on these worms, +Stu Bowker .

Thanks for the update! 
 
Just to say that I can wholeheartedly recommend +Mike Sullivan's spam clean-up service. For $50 he will clean up the data on your account setting you up with filters to rid you of these pesky nuisances and an advanced segment to clean your historical data.
 
free-share-buttons dot com
Get-Free-Traffic-Now dot com (with capitals i thought this matters also?)1
 
Three more in my data which I can't see listed above:

videos-for-your-business (dot) com
success-seo (dot) com
floating-share-buttons (dot) com
 
UPDATE: So this is getting ridiculous. It's been nearly two months since the last update and in that time the community have helped find another... wait for it... 158 spam referral domains. Before going ahead and writing an official update what are your thoughts on the list below as I concerned some might be NOT be classed as spam (there's some that are definitely spam though):

100dollars-seo.com
12masterov.com
acads.net
adspart.com
adventureparkcostarica.com
affordablewebsitesandmobileapps.com
akuhni.by
allwomen.info
alpharma.net
altermix.ua
amt-k.ru
anal-acrobats.hol.es
android-style.com
anticrawler.org
arkkivoltti.net
aruplighting.com
baladur.ru
balitouroffice.com
bard-real.com.ua
bestmobilityscooterstoday.com
billiard-classic.com.ua
blue-square.biz
bmw.afora.ru
brakehawk.com
break-the-chains.com
brothers-smaller.ru
cardiosport.com.ua
cartechnic.ru
cenokos.ru
cezartabac.ro
ci.ua
civilwartheater.com
coderstate.com
connectikastudio.com
cubook.supernew.org
customsua.com.ua
dailyrank.net
delfin-aqua.com.ua
demenageur.com
detskie-konstruktory.ru
dipstar.org
djekxa.ru
dojki-hd.com
domination.ml
doska-vsem.ru
dostavka-v-krym.com
drupa.com
dvr.biz.ua
ecomp3.ru
edakgfvwql.ru
egovaleo.it
ekto.ee
e-kwiaciarz.pl
elmifarhangi.com
este-line.com.ua
euromasterclass.ru
europages.com.ru
eurosamodelki.ru
event-tracking.com
fannysfarm.com
floating-share-buttons.com
forum20.smailik.org
free-share-buttons.com
free-social-buttons.com
freewhatsappload.com
germes-trans.com
ghazel.ru
girlporn.ru
gkvector.ru
goodprotein.ru
guardlink.org
hundejo.com
hvd-store.com
ico.re
igru-xbox.net
iloveitaly.ro
iloveitaly.ru
ilovevitaly.info
ilovevitaly.org
iminent.com
imperiafilm.ru
ispaniya-costa-blanca.ru
it-max.com.ua
jjbabskoe.ru
kabbalah-red-bracelets.com
kazrent.com
kino-fun.ru
kino-key.info
kinopolet.net
laxdrills.com
littleberry.ru
livefixer.com
makemoneyonline.com
maridan.com.ua
masterseek.com
mebelcomplekt.ru
mebeldekor.com.ua
med-zdorovie.com.ua
minegam.com
mirobuvi.com.ua
msk.afora.ru
myftpupload.com
niki-mlt.ru
novosti-hi-tech.ru
ok.ru
onlywoman.org
o-o-8-o-o.ru
ooo-olni.ru
ozas.net
palvira.com.ua
photokitchendesign.com
pornhub-forum.ga
pornhub-forum.uni.me
pornhub-ru.com
pornoforadult.com
pozdravleniya-c.ru
prodvigator.ua
psa48.ru
qitt.ru
ranksonic.org
research.ifmo.ru
resellerclub.com
rightenergysolutions.com.au
sady-urala.ru
sanjosestartups.com
screentoolkit.com
search-error.com
semaltmedia.com
seoexperimenty.ru
seopub.net
seo-smm.kz
sexyteens.hol.es
shop.xz618.com
sitevaluation.org
slftsdybbg.ru
slkrm.ru
soaksoak.ru
socialseet.ru
sohoindia.net
spb.afora.ru
spravka130.ru
success-seo.com
tattooha.com
tedxrj.com
toyota.7zap.com
trafficmonetize.org
trion.od.ua
uzungil.com
videos-for-your-business.com
vodkoved.ru
webmaster-traffic.com
webmonetizer.net
websites-reviews.com
websocial.me
wmasterlead.com
ykecwqlixx.ru
youporn-forum.uni.me
zastroyka.org

Alternatively, do we look to other exclusion methods? e.g.

- Hostname inclusion
- Screen Resolution (exclude not set)
- Set an event on every page and exclude based on sessions that don't contain it.

None of this is ideal but would be great to have some input from +Google Analytics 

Thoughts please...
 
I currently use a hostname inclusion filter and an advanced segment to filter out the spam referrals that remain. I could also add in a series of exclusion filters but, as I'd have to use the advanced segment to filter any historical data I want to look at, I choose to just maintain the advanced segment alone. These measures together mean that I only have to trawl through the referrals with 100% bounce rate and check out any new ones, on a monthly basis. It's by no means ideal, but it does work fairly well and reporting has been a lot more comfortable since these measures were put in place.

Naturally, what we really need is a proper solution from Google. It would be reassuring to hear from them that they are still working on it.
 
Thanks +Liz Leigh, great to see how you're fighting the battle! Just as one method works they abuse another angle. When will it end? Thought you were better than this +Google Analytics  
 
Thanks for this usefull job you are doing. On some new websites, spammy referrers can now represents more than 70% of the total traffic!
 
Thank you very much for this list - VERY helpfull!!

Your update on July 3rd, are these URl's included in the original segment-link?
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