Where is it coming from? What time of day, week, and year does it peek? Who do you want coming to your website? These questions (and many more) are often the basis of proper traffic analysis.
Simply put, it’s extremely important to keep track of your traffic. In doing so, you might notice some odd trickles of visits to your website. Understanding and tracking irrelevant and untargeted traffic sources is just as necessary as measuring desired traffic.
Having driven more than 7.3 million leads for clients, WebFX knows how to get the right traffic to your site. You can contact us online or call 888-601-5359 today to speak with one of our experts! Below is additional information on why your site may be getting irrelevant traffic.
What is irrelevant traffic?
Irrelevant traffic is a general term, but it usually refers to visitors that have no real interest in your company or content. This could be anything from spammy referral traffic to an innocent user accidentally clicking through to your website in search engine results.
As the name suggests, it’s the type of traffic you can’t do much with. It won’t convert, it skews analytics, and it can be frustrating to deal with.
Irrelevant traffic is not necessarily malicious in nature, and it often will not directly affect your website in a negative way. However, higher volumes of irrelevant traffic do pollute your analytics. This is a very real issue that can be just as detrimental to the growth and bottom line of your business as a direct attack on your website.
Where does irrelevant traffic come from?
The largest source of irrelevant traffic is known as Referrer Spam, and is driven by spammers who crawl the web without blocking themselves from analytics. In the process of affecting your analytics, these spammers hope to profit via increased search engine rankings or increased traffic to a specific web page.
Early on, these spammers operated primarily by visiting websites using fake referrer URLs. It’s possible to manipulate referrer URLs to point back to any desired website, and in many cases, spammers would make it look like traffic was being referred from a site they wanted to advertise.
The fake referrer URL would appear in published access logs, referrer statistics, and other capacities. The targeted websites would inadvertently link back to the spammer’s website through these channels, which benefited the spammer’s search engine rankings.
While present day referrer spam functions much in the same way, the end goal has shifted away from published access logs.
Many referrer spammers now drive traffic to their spam/affiliate sites by flooding analytics with fake referrer URLs. Curious webmasters follow these links when investigating their analytic anomalies and land on the spam sites.
While this may not seem like a very useful or efficient tactic, clever spammers have numerous ways of monetizing these webmaster visits using cookies and other methods.
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The referrer URL for these websites will often contain phrases like “SEO success,” “make money online,” “get more traffic,” and similar words designed to make site owners curious.
What can I do about irrelevant traffic and referrer spam?
There are two basic methods by which this unwanted traffic appears in your analytics.
Crawler referrer spam
This type of referrer spam involves a web crawler (much like Google’s own search engine spiders) accessing your website with a fake referrer URL.
Crawler traffic can be easily blocked using the .htaccess file. Simply monitor your analytics for a few days, and compile a list of the URLs this traffic is coming from. Create a rule blocking each URL within your .htaccess file, and you won’t see this referrer spam any longer!
“Ghost” referrer spam is newer and more prevalent. Google provides an Analytics Measurement Protocol that allows users to communicate directly with the Google Analytics Servers. Spammers take advantage of this by sending information to your analytics without ever actually visiting your site.
In other words, you won’t be able to block them with a simple .htaccess rule. The only way to stop this type of referrer spam is to set up a filter within your Google Analytics dashboard. This filter will strip ghost spam from your analytics, allowing you an accurate look at your website’s visitors and their behavior.
Why is irrelevant traffic a big deal?
Like we mentioned before, irrelevant traffic can really skew your analytics. Bigger websites may not care about a few hundred, or even a few thousand, fake entries in their analytics, but smaller businesses should care a lot.
Accurate analytics are the key to understanding your online marketing strategy as a whole. A few hundred spam hits to a small business’s website will make it effectively impossible to act on analytics data in any meaningful way.
Get your analytics back on track today
It’s extremely important for businesses to have access to consistent, accurate analytics. When every visitor and conversion matters, you want to make sure you’re doing all you can to improve your process. Unfortunately, irrelevant traffic and skewed analytics can make this hard to do.
At WebFX, our expert Internet marketers have years of experience monitoring and analyzing website traffic. If you’re too busy to deal with traffic issues on your own, or simply want the help of a professional, contact us today!