Spam Traffic / Ghost Traffic – Simple Solution: filter your Google Analytics data for “ / referral”

Starting a couple of days ago a small group of friends came to me and complained about some referrals they have in Google Analytics. They know I am a geek in this domain, so it was natural to ask me for help.

The guilty web site, that „sends” traffic to all my friends, is called “ / referral”. At least in Romania, this is the most common spammy site. Well, not spammy in the sense you know. So I tried not to emphasize this in Romania, which has some pure thoughts on Analytics (at least at this time), but this is what my good friend Phil Pearce – a super geek in Analytics & Adwords – is calling this “BlackHat Analytics”. If you really want to know why and learn about that it’s up to you.. (read more on a presentation held by Phil here – 3 presentations probably). I won’t advise you to do that. Keep your data collection and data thoughts sincere and honest.

So this is true, Blackhat Analytics exists, and now you know it! It is about misinforming a competing site and place some ghost traffic info into its reports. You are already scared about this false traffic that you received, that’s why I was called 3-4 times during this last week.

You’ve noticed that, from the 15th of March (at least in .RO it is the case), you have traffic from the “ / referral” site and you’ve tried to figure out what the.. it means, because, usually, when you go there it redirects you, probably with an affiliate code, to some money pages I suppose. So forget about these sites, there’s more of them, as I figured out reading a good article here: Removing Referral Spam from Google Analytics.


If you want to see this traffic naked please do this.

1 = go to “Acquisition”
2 = go to “All Traffic”
3 = select the “Source/Medium” report
4 = on the search field input “simple-share-buttons” and press enter, or press the magnifying glass.
5 = introduce a secondary dimension to this table to see where this traffic comes from by pressing the “secondary dimension” button (see it on the picture above) and write there “Service Provider” which will show on your report the Internet Service Provider related to that specific traffic

You’ll get this, which is not a natural traffic for you.


I will not try to write a geek article, believe me, but these hits have not even passed through your site, it is a fake call of a JavaScript function, an Analytics one, with a parameter that indicates your site, initiated on some other computers. As I tried to dig deeper, it seems to be a Chrome plugin that does that.

But, to keep it short, you’ll have to put a FILTER inside your Google Analytics account in order to ignore this annoying ghost traffic… but it is not a definitive solution, it is a temporary one, because this kind of spam can become more wide spread throughout the Internet and start to use more than the 10 fake sites it uses now.

The solution is described in Ben Travis’ article here: Removing Referral Spam from Google Analytics. Or, try this:

1) Go into admin mode
2) enter the filters area


3) press new filter


4) input a new one (exclude -> referral), based on this regex formula



If you set that filter on your account you’ll be happy, at least for now. But the dark side of the analytics will probably find another ghost /spam / black site to promote.. Always be prepared to read the data from strange referral sites in association with “hostname” or “service provider” as secondary dimensions. In this way you will see the true nature of your traffic (the naked traffic).

Hope now you’ll sleep better tonight!


5 thoughts on “Spam Traffic / Ghost Traffic – Simple Solution: filter your Google Analytics data for “ / referral”

  1. Thanks for the info. Looks like most of my top 10 source fit this description!

    I’ve applied the filter, but it doesn’t seem to filter out the traffic. Perhaps I’m doing something wrong, but I was careful to read and reread your instructions, and try a few other things too. I keep getting this message when I verify the filter:

    Filter Verification
    This filter would not have changed your data. Either the filter configuration is incorrect, or the set of sampled data is too small.

    Any ideas?

    • Same here, the filter verification fails to affect any data, but after taking a look on the yesterday’s data (when I implemented the filter), it seems like the buttons refferal isn’t int the list anymore.

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