Recently I have been posting a number of how-to guides on Google Analytics, and several of them are related to referral spam and ghost crawlers. Although these referral spam are theoretically harmless to our websites and SEO, it doesn’t do any justice to our data. When the spammers send these fake visits to our websites, it jacks up our page views and sessions artificially. And if we do not tackle the issue soon enough, or let it fester, we wouldn’t be able to make any accurate analytics.

In Google Analytics, we cannot remove or delete these fake visits (at least for now). What we can do is only to exclude them from our data when we do our analysis. Basically, how we deal with referral spam can be broken into two parts. First we identify these referral spam, then we exclude them from our data reports.

Steps to Find Referral Spam in Google Analytics

Login to Google Analytics, and choose the Property/Website that you want to find referral spam.

find referral spam in analytics

Next, from the top of the page, go to Reporting.

find referral spam 1

Then from the left-hand side navigation bar, go to Acquisition > Referrals.

find referral spam 2

Now we need to find those referral spam. These fake visits can be easily identified with a bounce rate of 100% and zero duration time. So let’s do a filter and have them listed.

Click on the link Advanced (as shown in the image below).

find referral spam 3

A window will slide down for you to select the dimensions to filter your results. There are two metrics you need to include:

  • Bounce Rate equals 100, and
  • Avg. Session Duration equals 0.

Once that’s done, click the Apply button.find referral spam 4

Here are the referral spam I have on my blog, so yours are going to be different.

find referral spam 5

This marks the end of the guide on finding referral spam in your Google Analytics account. Your next step now is to remove them using Google Analytics, or via a plugin if you are running a WordPress blog.



Lincoln is a fan of Apple products, loves red wine and traveling. He blogs on internet marketing, social media, wordpress tips & guides, and using technology to maximize efficiency. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook for regular updates.

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