Analytics spammers now use legit websites as referrals

Sigh. Where do I start on this? Everyone who owns a website these days and has some sort of analytics tool active has seen the lifehacĸer and ɢoogle domain spam (note the weird characters). For the last couple months, the amount of spam like this has been growing slowly but steady. Annoying, yes, but also very easy to filter out in your reports.

Today, however, I’ve stumbled upon something new. Google Analytics showed me a bunch of extra traffic over the past couple days. A quick look at where the traffic was coming from, showed that it was coming from Reddit. Okay, that’s interesting, as I hadn’t been active on Reddit for a while. Diving deeper in the referrals report, lead me to this Reddit thread (don’t click the link in the thread, but you can view the thread without risk).

Reddit thread being used as fake referral source
Should the Reddit thread go down, here is the screenshot. This is being used as a fake referral source, to tempt visitors into clicking on the spam link.

The Reddit thread links to one of the well known domain spam websites. This same thread is used as referral for over 1000 unique visitors to my humble website on a single day. The thread does not link to my website at all, so the referral is fake. But it did offer me the link to the spam website again, while I thought that I was just looking at a Reddit thread giving me a ton of new traffic…

A legit source of referrals?

Every now and then, Reddit turns into an actual legit source of referrals for visitors to my website. I can block most spammy domains in my analytics tools, but I don’t want to block Reddit. Of course, Reddit will sooner or later take down this thread, but the damage is done already.

Should I now start filtering out every single spam thread? What if the spammers start automating this practice (which I guess, they already have), or start using other websites like Twitter, Facebook, etc?

I’m no expert with analytics tools, so I’ll just monitor what the really clever minds in the field are going to think of to prevent this in the next couple days.

8 thoughts on “Analytics spammers now use legit websites as referrals”

    1. There currently is no way to stop this, other than blocking Reddit as a referral source altogether, which I’m not gonna do as I get legitimate traffic from there as well…

      1. It works for a good amount of spam filtering, but the referrals that I’m talking about here don’t have the spam language tag anymore. In fact, all traffic with that language tag has dropped of almost completely in the last couple days.

  1. Since this is a common problem for so many users of Google analytics, surely Google itself should work on a solution, with urgency, since it is mucking up Google Analytics effectiveness and usefulness as a product. (Dare I say it though, maybe not expect too much since they have never responded to numerous customer requests to fix up Google+.)

  2. Ah, this explains allot in fact, analytics spammers is a new thing to me. (I have been living under a rock) It seems like they found a new way to annoy common internet citizens.

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