Sunday, July 12, 2015


I recently took my blog off-line to investigate sudden spikes of statistical activity with a 98% bounce rate. 

After going through Google Analytics with a fine-tooth comb, a picture of the shadier side of the web emerged. On one hand, it seems LUMIÈRE is a very popular name in Japan and China for some reason and there were visits from LUMIÈRE hotels, wineries and global markets in Japan and a cinema investment company in China.

On the other hand there was some phishing from fake Russian banks (worrying) but mostly the spikes were caused by REFERRER SPAM bots impersonating a referral link. This pseudo traffic is designed to make their domain show up in your site analytics so that you’ll visit their site.

By far the most referrer spam my blog gets is from “not set” which  GA’s map indicates is in Nigeria (again, worrying) and from Russia. All these referrers skew GA data so you have no idea how much genuine traffic your blog is getting. Some of these bots can install porn, viruses or malware URLs on your blog if your security isn't tight. They can also make you blog look spammy and cause Google to demote its ranking.

You may be familiar with this problem but if, like me, you had no idea this stuff existed, you can find out if you have unwanted referrers by going to GA>traffic>referrals. There’s not much point in listing them as they change constantly. The most long-lasting and problematic one seems to be SEMALT in various iterations. The most prolific on my blog currently are variations of: trafficmonetize, 4webmasters, event-tracking, free-social-buttons, floating-share-buttons.

Here’s a helpful link that will explain what referrer spam is and how to quickly filter it out of your Blogger and WordPress blogs.

And by the way, these referrers are not contagious. Legitimate readers can visit my secure blog in complete safety.