The End of Referral Spam as We Know it?

Although, still unconfirmed by Google, it looks like there have been some big changes in how referral spam is handled in Google Analytics. We have been seeing a steady decline over the last month and the last week in particular.

It looks as if Google began aggressively filtering from mid-to-late February.

There are still accounts with some minor issues, but nothing compared to what we saw a few months ago.

Having examined over 100 analytics accounts, it does indeed look like referral spam is coming to an end. At last. We hope.

What is Referral Spam?

Wikipedia defines referral spam as

“Referrer spam (also known as referral spam, log spam or referrer bombing) is a kind of spamdexing (spamming aimed at search engines). The technique involves making repeated web site requests using a fake referrer URL to the site the spammer wishes to advertise.”

What does Referral Spam Do?


Google Analytics


Basically, referral spam was an inconvenience. It was something you had to continually filter, monitor and explain. It wasted a lot of time. If it wasn’t filtered properly, it would also mess up your other metrics and skewer averages.

These automated requests would overload servers and slow down load times. With slower speeds and higher bounce rates, this would eventually translate into lower rankings. Many webmasters also feared the security implications, some of this spam traffic could be looking for WordPress, plugin and server vulnerabilities.

According to Jennifer Slegg from the Sempost, it looks as if the spam is being filtered after hitting the site, with it still visible in real time and then Google applies a filter before it hits the acquisition reporting.

Hopefully, this spells the end of referral spam as we know it.

For further reading, see How to Stop Spam Bots from Ruining Your Analytics Referral Data and for a free SEO and Analytics Audit contact us today!