How to block Referral Spam and Countries within Google Analytics.
First the story and issues then the solution so bear with me for a bit.
Lately there have been some strange occurrences going on with my Google Analytics Dashboard and since then I have found out some members here have been getting the same issues.
We are not the only ones as during a recent visit to the Google forum I noticed others are having the same problems.
When I go to look at the GA dashboard within the website there has been many so called referrals coming mainly from Russia.
This is not an issue with WordPress or even your website.
These referral spams are not even visiting your website even though Google Analytics states it is.
From what I have found out these individuals or group who are causing this have found a way of latching on to the Google Analytics account code we first received when we first started Google Analytics E.G. code UA-xXxXxXxX-1
It also seems to be a hit and miss part as well that’s perhaps why other members are not affected while some are but know it is not restricted to just WA members.
I also found out from a tech person that he noticed this was happening to a lot whose numbers ended in 1. Whatever the reason for this is they are targeting Google Analytics and as always the website owners are the Lab Rats for their testing.
Whether that true not sure as I don’t know how many numbers the GA codes goes up to.
That certainly won’t make my Analytics look good in Google’s eyes or mine.
This has been going on for a while but another parts I noticed was that my bounce rate which for the better part of the last 8 odd months was around the 0 to 2%.
Now due to this issue from these new so called referrers my bounce rate skyrocketed close to the 50% on average and at some times depending on the day up to around the 80% mark.
One day it shot 100% bounce rate that day I had as it was just past midnight here I had 1 visitor from Russia and 15 sessions with that 100% bounce rate and hardly anything for a page view.
You will see my list of the Referral spam I have been receiving mostly from Russia some are older which also have been resolved.
So now you may understand why I have not been so happy of late.
At first I slowly I was getting up to 2-3 referrals from Russia then all of a sudden the bells started to ring when it became to 10-17 but from 1 referral with multiple sessions again all from Russia.
I went into incognito mode and looked up these sites and found the majority were the same weird sites, some directing to a real estate site, some during Christmas just showed Santa with Ho Ho Ho on the right side and I am guessing the same in Russian on the left. I wasn’t going to go further as this already confirmed there was something wrong.
These are some of the sites I have encounter since early December till now.
Blocking plugin for Countries.
I tried to search for a plugin that could block Russia from visiting my website as this was the Country that was the issue.
I found one but to no avail as all it did was screw up my site to the point I couldn’t see anything when going to the dashboard not even the side panel options for that theme.
I did try other themes but same thing happened with them as well.
So I went back to my original theme and had to deactivate all my plugins and go one by one until the culprit was found.
When I found the plugin I deleted this plus any other unused plugins I had lying around.
Oh by the way
I was also told by support that it’s a good idea to get rid of any plugins and themes you are not using as it can is some cases give hackers or spammers a back door entry to your site.
In fact this was their response that related to a different issue that support fixed quickly.
"We see that you have a lot of inactive plugins and themes, such things provide hackers backdoor when plugins/themes are vulnerable, you "should" delete all unused themes and plugins, update rest to latest version".
So for those with plenty of unused plugins and themes it might be a good idea to do some spring cleaning.
Treat it as a part of a New Year’s Resolution for your website.
I felt it important to add this part about the plugin as it related to the issue with Russia and it's spam but as a side result with out great support team this message is also quite important as like they said someone can get into your back end (I am talking about the plugin and themes via unused or outdated themes or plugins LOL).
Who is to say these Russian spammers won't try.
That’s why it is mentioned here. If you are going to fix one issue you might as well fix another while you are here.
This is my list of referrals I had to exclude and block.
OK let's get started. Next page please?