Your bounce rate is an important indicator of your website’s performance and how interesting your target audience finds your content. A high bounce rate, bad. A low bounce rate, good.
Blocking spam referrers in Google Analytics will cut out the noise and show you your true stats — allowing you to make actionable changes and decisions for your blog or biz to improve your site, retain your audience, and get new leads.
But first, let’s tackle the basics.
Psst! Already a seasoned Analytics Nerd? Skip to the good stuff —>
What is a Bounce Rate?
Your bounce rate in Google Analytics refers to the percentage of your website’s visitors who leave your site after visiting only one page.
So, you want to aim for as low a bounce rate as possible. Low bounce rate = more people exploring more than 1 page on your site, meaning they are most likely engaged in your content and liking your shiz.
A high bounce rate is a surefire sign that people aren’t liking your site, or the wrong audience is viewing it.
How to Get Your Bounce Rate Low, Low, Low
So blocking spam is a huge way to lower your bounce rate. Cutting out all the spam means that you’ll know the actual stats of your website as it relates to real, live, breathing human beings visiting your site, not crawler robots or phishing scheme drones.
But blocking spam only helps you see the REAL stats of your website. If your bounce rate is still quite high after blocking spam referrers as described in this article, then you need to buckle down and do some serious work.
Maybe it’s just that you’re attracting the wrong audience. Try thinking more about your target audiences, where they hang out, and promote your blog or website there.
The other quite obvious reason is that… well, your shit’s boring. So re-read your articles and look over your website from your target audience’s point of view. Pretend you’re a potential customer or blog reader who has just landed on your site. What do you think of it? What draws you in?
Or better yet, ask a complete stranger to review your site for you. Ask them to describe their experience, if anything on the site confused them or they weren’t sure where to go, or just how interesting they found your content. The truth might sting, but the good news is, all feedback is constructive. Your website should never be set it stone. Be willing to be open to feedback, and constantly tweak it to improve your reader’s experience.
What is a Spam Referrer?
A normal referrer in Google Analytics means a website that has linked to you, and someone clicked that link to get to your site. So like right now, if I link over to the blog one of my fave YouTubers, Michael Noker, and if you click his name right there (which you totally should) then NerdyOrganized.com would show up as a referrer in his Google Analytics.
A “spam referrer” in Google Analytics means a website that says it directed traffic to you, but it’s not real. A human wasn’t on the other end of that, just a robot. And no one actually came to your site.
How to Tell the Difference Between a Spam Referral and a Good Referral
Just like anything else, this can be both easy and difficult.
There’s gonna be some obvious spammy ones like “get-rich-now.xyz”. Duh. Some of them are more sophisticated, like “makeprogress.ga” which seems like it could either be something from Google Analytics (the .ga ending), or perhaps some kind of political campaign from Georgia. But it’s a fakey fake spam bot.
A surefire way to tell is to look at the time spent on your site from “people” that visited your site from all your referrals.
Here’s a screenshot of my referrals for the last 30 days:
See anything fishy?
Most of those look legit, things like Facebook and Twitter (Twitter shows up as t.co). Gee, that Rank Checker place must be my biggest fan, right? Time on site is a solid 11 seconds (wow, I must be dull) and bounce rate is 98%. Hmm.
Usually if the time on site is 0 seconds, that is a total giveaway that the URL is a spam referral. If you’re ever not sure, just Google it. Searching for rank-checker.online got me the following results:
So yep, spam.
Here are some other hints that stand out about my recent referring sites. I have outlined them in red below. It may take a bit of getting used to in order to analyze your own referrers, but just watch for the following clues:
- Time on Site (0 seconds is a dead giveaway)
- Bounce Rate (high percentage = unlikely to be real… or they hate you)
- Obvious Spammy URL like get-rich-quick-trump-for-prez.com
How to Block Spam Referrers in Google Analytics for Good!
OK, now the good stuff. Now that you can identify those spammy referrals, how do you solve the issue for good? It wouldn’t be very efficient to have to sort through all your results every month when you go over your analytics, would it?
Luckily, there is an easy way to block spam referrers permanently which ensures that your analytics reports are always 100% accurate, giving you insightful intel about your real audience and website performance, without being bogged down by junk.
The answer lies in creating a custom segment to filter your results. Let’s walk through the steps… You only have to set up this segment once!
Creating a Custom Segment to Block Spam Referrers in Google Analytics
From any page on your analytics report, click on “Add Segment” at the top. Then click “New Segment”.
If you don’t click on New Segment after clicking the above box, you’ll see some interesting items like the below. If you really care about attracting people on mobile for example, you can segment just your mobile traffic to get a better idea of where they live, what devices they use and just see their info more clearly. Just an example.
But anyway. Click on the red “New Segment” button at the top. The resulting popup will start on the demographics tab, but you want to go straight to the Conditions tab.
You can also give your segment a name while you’re here… I call mine “Spam Filter”, unoriginally.
Change the following items under “Conditions”:
- Filter -> Sessions -> EXCLUDE
- Source -> Matches Regex
Then, in the text box you’ll enter the spam referrers that you want to exclude from your analytics. When you save and apply this segment, your analytics reports will be magically spam free – forever!
You need to enter the URLs as what’s called a “REGEX” or a “regular expression”. That just means you need to put in some slashes and vertical lines. Before a period, put a slash. In between URLs, put a vertical line.
Like this: nerdyorganized.com would become nerdyorganized\.com
And if I had a few URLs, they would look like this: super-cool-site\.com|website2\.com|anotherone\.com
It’s not that hard!
So you enter in all your spam referral URLs in the text box and press the blue Save button at the top. Ta-da, you now have a shiny new spam filter.
Yours should look something like this.
So… you could continue this way building your own spam filter over months and years of watching your reports to see what the spammy domains are out there… OR you can download the list I’ve made over the past YEAR for FREE! Say whaaaat.
Applying Your New Spam Filter
So either you’ve made your own filter now, or you downloaded mine. Either way, you’re good to go.
Just keep in mind that each time you come to your Analytics account, you’ll need to apply that filter. So just follow the same steps as above. Click on Add Segment at the top, choose “Custom” on the left, and then pick your filter.
I hope you enjoyed this easy Analytics hack to make sure that you’re seeing accurate numbers for your website. Nothing’s worse than thinking you’re doing something right only to discover it’s a bunch of spam bots visiting your site instead of real people. Using this filter you can be sure that your numbers are 100% accurate, so that you can accurately track your goals and progress. Win-win!
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