Online ghost-hunting

Date: Tuesday, 28th July 2015 | Category: , , , , , , , ,

Matthew Burgess, Phew Internet MD, gives you an overview about an increasingly frustrating issue – that of ghost traffic online – and how it can mislead your website stats.

What is ghost traffic?

It’s the number of false visits which are recorded in your Google Analytics dashboard – visits to your site from spam domains which ‘count’ in the reporting but aren’t actually real.

You’ll know because more often than not the ‘visit’ will have a 100% bounce rate and a 0 time on site. As a result, overall visits will be artificially higher, as well bounce rates, referral data and the average amount of time that people spend on your site.

Over the last six months or so, more and more website owners and online marketers have seen an increase in ghost traffic and so the dissent and frustration has been growing too. We’ve seen that clients have found from 5 to 75% of their recorded traffic is actually ghost traffic!

What should I do?

Ghost traffic won’t affect your website or your SEO – this is purely about the accuracy of the Google Analytics data you receive.

There are a few steps you can take to try and strip out this unwanted data from your Analytics reporting, such as adding intelligent filtering using cookies and known spam domains. These are measures we’re already taking for our clients however, it’s rather like sticking a plaster on a heavily bleeding wound – it’s temporary and the spammers will eventually find workarounds. In reality it is something which only Google can really ‘fix’.

Google is aware of the increasing volume of concern from web owners, but has yet to address it in a meaningful way, only saying that they’re working on it. Let’s hope it’s sooner rather than later – because let’s face it, there are more important things you could be doing than stripping out fake data in Analytics!

If you’re concerned about this issue and would like use to help, please don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss.