Google Analytics Actively Working On Spam…

…or should it be “Spam Actively Working On Google Analytics“?

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As reported in the Search Engine Roundtable,  a senior director at Google recently said they are actively working on the spam problem. This isn’t really news, since they said as much as far back as May, 2015…and they have been. I am sure there have been a few Google employees frustrated by the daily battle.

The reality is that spam still appears in Google Analytics reports. It gets past their defenses; it is an open system after all. To the spammers, it’s just a big system to be “gamed” — try to figure out the rules and develop a way to bypass them. We’ve seen some interesting techniques over the past couple of years: referral spam, event spam, organic keyword spam, and spam referrals with unique numbers in them (usually associated with your tracking code number).

Over the summer, we saw lots and lot of spam domains like scanner-willy\.top and compliance-don\.top. They changed daily and limited the number of properties they attacked. The latest trend: mixing unique numbers with lots of domains…and it seems to have been effective for a few days so far. Maybe it takes a day or two to detect, then new rules were put in place to stop it. Or maybe the spammers simply change anyways. Either way, the damage was done – fake referrals injected into unsuspecting website owners reports. New website owners are the most vulnerable from these attacks – they look for anything that indicates traffic to their new site, and they don’t know enough to recognize or filter the spam.

That’s why I have been maintaining my Definitive Guide to Removing All Google Analytics Spam for the past 2 years. The battle continues…

Update 2016-11-05

Look for /sharebutton.to  fake traffic in your landing pages report from organic search results (source / medium: google / organic).