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Fixing Google Analytics Spam

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https://www.newtlabs.co.uk - How GA collects data, how do spammers send invalid data, how do you find the invalid data, how do you remove the invalid data.

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Fixing Google Analytics Spam

  1. 1. Fixing Google Analytics Spam Steven Watts | @bboywattsy @newtlabsuk | newtlabs.co.uk Fixing Google Analytics Spam
  2. 2. Steven Watts | @bboywattsy @newtlabsuk | newtlabs.co.uk Fixing Google Analytics Spam
  3. 3. There are only so many possible GA codes Anyone can copy your code Steven Watts | @bboywattsy @newtlabsuk | newtlabs.co.uk How GA Collects Data Problems? Fixing Google Analytics Spam
  4. 4. Steven Watts | @bboywattsy @newtlabsuk | newtlabs.co.uk How do spammers send invalid data Fixing Google Analytics Spam
  5. 5. 1. Evil Clone Steven Watts | @bboywattsy @newtlabsuk | newtlabs.co.uk 1. Set up a site with your tracking code 2. Send hits to the site 3. Hits are reflected in your reports with the aim of getting you to click on them Fixing Google Analytics Spam
  6. 6. 2. Internet of things Steven Watts | @bboywattsy @newtlabsuk | newtlabs.co.uk How they do it? • Write a script with GA Measurement Protocol • Send hits via your Google Analytics UA Code • Hits are reflected in your reports Fixing Google Analytics Spam
  7. 7. Steven Watts | @bboywattsy @newtlabsuk | newtlabs.co.uk They don’t always use your UA code to pollute your data Fixing Google Analytics Spam
  8. 8. 3. Bad Bots Steven Watts | @bboywattsy @newtlabsuk | newtlabs.co.uk How they do it? • Program a crawler or botnet to visit your site • Spoof the HTTP headers with fake data • Set a spam website as the HTTP referrer • These spoofed website show up in your referral reports Fixing Google Analytics Spam
  9. 9. Steven Watts | @bboywattsy @newtlabsuk | newtlabs.co.uk How do you find the invalid data Fixing Google Analytics Spam
  10. 10. Finding Ghost Referrer Spam Steven Watts | @bboywattsy @newtlabsuk | newtlabs.co.uk • Invalid hostnames i.e. blog.example.com are ghost referrer spam • Filtering out invalid hostnames solves scenario #1 and #2 (evil clone, iot) • These hostnames show up as a dimension in GA reports Fixing Google Analytics Spam
  11. 11. Steven Watts | @bboywattsy @newtlabsuk | newtlabs.co.uk Look for domains that you do not own These are ghost referrers Fixing Google Analytics Spam
  12. 12. Finding BOT Referrer Spam Steven Watts | @bboywattsy @newtlabsuk | newtlabs.co.uk • Referrers are sites where visitors clicked links to get to your site • HTTP Request Headers with referrers set are collected by GA • These referrers make up the Channels in GA reports • Any site that did not send legitimate visitors are bot spam referrers • Removing spam referrers solves Scenario #3 (bots) Fixing Google Analytics Spam
  13. 13. Steven Watts | @bboywattsy @newtlabsuk | newtlabs.co.uk Look for spam sites that shouldn’t be sending traffic to your site Fixing Google Analytics Spam
  14. 14. Steven Watts | @bboywattsy @newtlabsuk | newtlabs.co.uk How do you remove the invalid data Fixing Google Analytics Spam
  15. 15. Steven Watts | @bboywattsy @newtlabsuk | newtlabs.co.uk To remove from future reports • Apply a filter to your views include only valid hostnames - This modifies all data going forward • Apply a filter to your Views exclude spam referrers • Set an annotation in Google Analytics - This reminds you when the filter was applied To remove from past reports • Create segments of valid hostnames and exclude spam referrers - View past data without the invalid hostnames Remove Google Analytics spam Fixing Google Analytics Spam
  16. 16. Steven Watts | @bboywattsy @newtlabsuk | newtlabs.co.uk Raw and Test Views • You get 25 views for every property in Google Analytics • Views allow you to add filters to change how data is processed • Once you add a filter it alters the data forever for that view • Use a new view to test any new filter before applying it to your main views • Always try to keep one view completely unfiltered • Ideally create another back up view with basic filters and goals too Fixing Google Analytics Spam
  17. 17. Steven Watts | @bboywattsy @newtlabsuk | newtlabs.co.uk Set a Ghost Filter Fixing Google Analytics Spam
  18. 18. Steven Watts | @bboywattsy @newtlabsuk | newtlabs.co.uk Set a Ghost Segment Fixing Google Analytics Spam
  19. 19. Filter and Segment Bot Referrers Steven Watts | @bboywattsy @newtlabsuk | newtlabs.co.uk • Same process: filter to protect future data and segment to fix past data • Instead of including only good refers, exclude the bad ones • It is useful to use lists online of known bad referrers • Use a tool like referrerspamblocker.com to import segments and filters • Always use a test view first for any filters you apply to data Fixing Google Analytics Spam
  20. 20. Fixing Google Analytics Spam Steven Watts | @bboywattsy @newtlabsuk | newtlabs.co.uk Fixing Google Analytics Spam [FIN]

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