What is Referral Spam

Did you ever see many hits from weird sounding referrers? 20, 40 or 100 in a few minutes? Did you maybe even look at one of those sites because you were excited and curious for you had that many visits?

Especially as a new website owner or local business, referral spam can be a problem.

Referral spam is produced by bots that crawl your site. They do not interact with your site and no real person is looking at your site.

In most cases they do not link to your site; they just pretend to (luckily).

Why is referral spam a problem?

For large sites with thousands and thousand of clicks daily it is not a problem at all. But for small website owners or let´s say a local yoga coach it is a problem.

500 – 1000 daily hits would be pretty awesome for a plumber or new blog. 100 hits from a bot would mean 10 – 20 % bounces in addition to the real ones. Or maybe your site is even newer and you just have let´s say 50 daily visitors.

I had 123 spam from a site I will discuss further down today. This day in google time is only 7 hours old. (On my main blog. This one has not been discovered yet by spammers).

The problem with that is that it gives google the impression that people were not finding what they were looking for on your site. It can result in your rankings going down.

It influences the value of your analytics data if 20 %  or more of your traffic is just junk.

Theoretically, it can make your site less accessible for real visitors even though that is rather unlikely as the referral spam only stays a few seconds. It takes away from your monthly bandwidth allowance, but that also will probably not be a problem unless you have loads of amounts of data on your site.

Why are referral spammers doing it?

It might sound absurd to you, but they are collecting leads and showing ads. One referral spammer was as funny as to post “this could be an ad for your website” on his site. Like, sure, we all want to be connected to referral spam, and pay for that privilege, right?
Especially new website owners who are not yet aware of the problem are often lured into checking out the referring website. The rest is a numbers game. Even if just 1 out of 1000 clicks on a link it can be lucrative. 
Every complaint about the site is another backlink. 
The website owners who are aware of referral spammers will probably not visit the spammer but do a search for the site name. Now imagine that. Hundreds and thousands of people search for your website – google must think you are really important. 
You know what? I often hate this “google this” and “google that” .. sometimes I feel like a volunteer working for google. All of us blog owners have to be constantly worried about what google thinks. From adding unnecessary text to a finished article to get the number of words google likes, to grammatically challenged phrases to be found – to worrying about referral spam. 
Referral spam is as harmful as buying traffic from Fiverr. 

Jetsli jetsli dot de Spam

This is a site that is currently bugging many smaller websites. Since 2013 as far as I know.  Let´s look at this example. The site is empty. It consists of ad modules only. 
Referral Spam Jetsli
Usually, these spammers hide their identities. 
Domain: jetsli.de

Nserver: ns1.parkingcrew.net
Nserver: ns2.parkingcrew.net
Status: connect
Changed: 2013-07-28T11:51:28+02:00
[Tech-C]
Type: PERSON
Name: Filip Hallonkvist
Address: Aschebergsgatan 138
PostalCode: 41133
City: Goeteborg
CountryCode: SE
Phone: +46-0-31134329102
Fax: +46-0-31134324219
Email: filip.hallonkvist@nym.hush.com
Changed: 2013-07-03T12:56:45+02:00
[Zone-C]
Type: PERSON
Name: Filip Hallonkvist
Address: Aschebergsgatan 138
PostalCode: 41133
City: Goeteborg
CountryCode: SE
Phone: +46-0-31134329102
Fax: +46-0-31134324219
Email: filip.hallonkvist@nym.hush.com
Changed: 2013-07-03T12:56:45+02:00

What is google doing?

Now, I am not technical at all with no intention to learn. From what I see the whole site consists of only 3 trackers: Google Analytics, Google Adsense and Doubleclick. No content. Just these ads. 
Doubleclick is a subsidiary of google with a bad reputation. I was under the impression that AdSense, another google product, was trying for a less spammy reputation. They checked my website before approving it and I wonder how jetsli dot de (not giving them a backlink) received their approval. Was it for the informative content?
I guess it´s not illegal to hurt the analytics and possibly rankings of blog owners, new online businesses and smaller sites. 
But one wonders… do they really want to pay out money for showing ads to annoyed website owners? How about the people who pay for the ads? Is that the quality of leads they are looking for?
I am not implying that google is not neutral. Just stating a fact in the most casual tone: Google makes money from the spammer that might hurt your rankings. Actually, I do not think they condone this kind of malpractice – I seriously don´t know why they do not act.

What can you do?

Eventually, these sites get shut down. But that can take what feels like a long time when you have daily visits from them. This jetsli spam i.e. is around for a very long time, you find complaints from website owners and even Etsi stores from as early as 2013. 
It´s faster when they have malware on their site. 
You can set a filter and remove the spam clicks from the VIEW of your analytics data. That obviously does not change a thing beside that you can analyze your real data better. 
I found a great expert-article that explains how to ummmmmmm block the bots from accessing your ……hts.access file thingy….
To me that sounds a bit risky if you are a technical novice – you might want to make friends with the author first. 
Referral Spam - Why you should be worried

Related Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *