What’s Going on with Referrer Spam and Google Analytics?

According to a recent exchange at the SMX East conference, the team at Google Analytics are now actively dealing with the Referrer Spam issue which is a serious problem and an area of concern that was actually raised by users of Google Analytics well over a year ago.

Referrer Spam itself is a unique type of spam content which is only visible to webmasters using the analytics dashboard when checking out their traffic reports.  Its main purpose is to trick Google and other search engines into thinking that traffic is accessing your website by means of links placed on the spammers website.

How Referrer Spam Actually Works
When someone accesses a website by means of a link on another site – this information is tracked by Google Analytics based on the text provided in the visitors’ URL search bar.  Initially, when you first see the referrals to your website appearing from another site – you might be excited and flattered that so many people are visiting your site from another domain – without realizing that these results are actually indicative of Referrer Spam.

The process itself relies on a so-called “spamdexer” making repeated website requests to your site using a fake referrer URL in an attempt to boost their own website in the search engine listings.  This is achieved by fooling the search engines into thinking that the spammer’s website has been visited X amount of times using data accumulated in your analytics account.

So, Are Google Taking This Problem Seriously?
Apparently, the answer to this question is a resounding “YES!”

Although the problem of spamdexing and referrer spam seems to be diminishing of its own accord, the fact of the matter is that users of Google Analytics are still noticing unusual results which seem to indicate that the problem of Referrer Spam has not been dealt with sufficiently as of yet.

However, Google have genuinely stated that they ARE committed to dealing with the issue and that they DO have an active plan which is intended to address Referral Spam once and for all.