Some website administrators may have noticed referral traffic from some unusual websites. Most of the time, they will have absolutely nothing to do with what the website is about. It may appear puzzling at first, but this is sadly the result of something that has unfortunately been plaguing many websites across the internet. This unusual source of traffic is known as spam referral traffic.

What are these odd referring websites?

When these referring websites are visited, they sometimes disguise themselves as legitimate businesses, including SEO services and tools. Whatever the case, they are not real traffic, but instead bots that visit every website that they can. Many of these sorts of referring websites will install malware on visiting computers.

These bots are what create spam referral traffic, and it is not a good thing at all for your website. This spam traffic reflects very poorly when it comes to search engine rankings, as it’s low-quality traffic with a 100 percent bounce rate. If you’re trying to read your website statistics for useful information, this spam traffic will greatly skew results.

There is actually a growing list of these spamming sites, called the Popular Google Analytics Referral Spam List.

How do you stop spam referral traffic?

There are a few ways to block spam referral traffic. The most effective way is to have the website administrator edit the server’s .htaccess file to deny traffic from these spam bots to your site. Here are some tips for editing that .htaccess file.

You can also enact a couple of solutions in Google Analytics, as well. The way that these bots work is to select random Google Analytics UA numbers. This means that the bots can fool Analytics into thinking they’re sending traffic. To combat this, there are JavaScript Referral Exclusions and Analytics Filters that can be applied to your Analytics account. More information on making these exclusions and filters can be found here. Some SEO experts have mentioned even blocking traffic from entire countries, but this seems a bit excessive.

One thing to definitely NOT do is to ever submit any sort of information to the referring websites. Some of them will even offer an “opt-out” form. This is a trap that will only make things worse, giving their bots even more targets.

Why hasn’t Google done anything about spam referral traffic?

With how important websites and their corresponding performance are in today’s world, this spam referral traffic is doing damage to many search engine optimization campaigns. But this goes beyond just SEO. This is a serious epidemic that Google needs to clearly identify and deal with, especially with the level of research that has been done on the subject.

Google Analytics is what is being targeted the most, so you would think that Google would have the sense to protect one of its most important products. Unsuspecting folks will be curious and potentially do more damage to their computers and websites. Hopefully, this spam referral traffic will not be allowed to spiral out of control by Google much longer, as all it will do is damage the search ranking reputations of perfectly good websites.