Referral spam has long been a nuisance for Google Analytics users – but now Google has announced it’s a thing of the past, as it will now automatically remove referral spam.
After hinting at an upcoming solution last year, it seemed that Google had long forgotten about introducing a tool to fix the issue. However, many users around the web noticed that Google Analytics referral spam no longer shows up in their reports – which pointed towards the automatic removal finally coming to fruition.
As of March 2016 however – it seems Google has managed to finally do away with referral spam, as no commonly known referral spam shows up in reports.
However, this change does not cover retroactive reports – as spam referrals are still evident from previous months, up to January of 2016. Referral spam is also still shown in the real-time view of Analytics – so it appears to purely be applying a filter by default to remove spam URLs, so it doesn’t show up in your reports.
Referral spam is so prevalent in hoping that website owners will click the referral site to check out what brought visitors to the site. Even through no real traffic or links came from the website in question.
What this all means
What it means is that reports from February 2016, webmasters and marketers will be able to analyse reports and traffic without referral spam messing up the data. It means that there’s no need for Analytics users to create segments, or otherwise add to excluded domains on an ongoing basis.
However some webmasters could notice a drop in traffic, if the previous referral spam was large in quantity, but does not matter at all as it was never true, important traffic anyhow.
The time saved in needing to filter spam manually, whether through adding URLs to the exclusion list, or utilising other methods such as segments, is invaluable. There’s no need to continuously update your reporting practices to keep spam out, as Google should do all this for you. However, it’s still worthwhile excluding spam manually for past reports to get the truest possible report.
Of course, there’s always a chance that uncommon referral spam sites could sneak through, but only time will tell how much this happens.
Overall, this new addition is going to save a lot of time for Google Analytics users, and will provide superior, more accurate reports to analyse and improve your website performance. This wasted time can now be spent elsewhere, so the long-awaited addition to Analytics has been worth the wait.