Your Imaginary Friends

Newsletter sent 2015-05-05.

Your Imaginary Friends

Users of Google Analytics might be fooled into thinking that your website has become a lot more popular in 2015 than it really has. The platform has become a popular target for hackers recently, and they are creating visits from “imaginary friends“.

It started as a black-hat marketing scheme, leaving behind fake referral visits in hopes that people would go look at who was linking to their website. Then they got creative, manufacturing fake organic search visits with ego-boosting search keywords. The latest problem looks like they messed up and left behind spikes of fake direct visits with no attribution.

Imaginary Friends

Imaginary Friends

The end result: even for Google Analytics accounts that have never been used, like this one, you could see increasing traffic from different sources and from all around the world.

The solution: create a filter that only lets through authentic visits to your website.

If you haven’t already created a filter like that, and if 100 visits per day from imaginary friends would make your Google Analytics reports questionable, then it’s time to build your filter. Instructions on how to remove these “ghost referrals” and other false traffic sources can be found here:

The Definitive Guide to Removing Referral Spam

The article has helped thousands of people already, but I realize that some people don’t want to figure out the filters, so I am now offering a personalized spam filter service for a small fee. I will analyze the traffic to your site, review your configuration and existing filters, and deliver a recommended course of action. After approval, I will create the required filters as well as an advanced segment to clean up your reports. if you are interested, just follow the instructions:

Personalized Spam Filter Service

Web analytics is enough of a challenge for many businesses. It’s time to dump the imaginary friends and get a clear picture.

Mike Sullivan
Founder, Analytics Edge