It’s a real pain without a good solution.
I’ve been fighting a battle with referral spam over the past few weeks.
Referral spam is when a website sends lots of bogus traffic to your site in order to show up in your site analytics. They hope that you are excited and want to see the site that is sending you tons of new traffic, so you click through to the referrer website.
Also called referrer spam, this concept started with websites that sold services to website owners. It was a way to get visits from ideal prospects.
This type of spam is a major nuisance for a couple reasons. First, it messes up your analytics so that it becomes difficult to tell how well you’re really doing. Second, it uses hosting and services resources. I hit my traffic limit on Woopra (a live stats system) during the last billing cycle because of the spam.
On a typical business day, Domain Name Wire gets about 250-500 visitors per hour during working hours. Sometimes now I’m getting a couple thousand visits per hour for a couple hours at a time.
As best I can tell, this latest surge in referrer spam is actually caused by malware. I went to a few of the sites (with my firewall and antivirus software on) and they triggered warnings. I was even receiving bogus traffic from Australian domain registrar Netregistry. It seems that the site owners are unwitting participants in this scheme; the perpetrators are hacking their sites and then triggering the fake traffic.
One way to counteract the problem is to use a WordPress plugin called Block Referrer Spam. It adds a rewrite to your .htaccess file to deny the traffic. But this is a neverending battle as the sites that send the fake traffic changes daily, if not hourly. It’s like using a simple email blacklist tool.
Ideally, I’d like to see analytics services (including Google Analytics) create an easy way to delete a referrer and all of its data (including page views, time on site, etc) from your analytics. A simple (-) link next to each referrer would be a big help.