A recent Google update may have changed the way your analytics appear. At first site (I’m being punny) of the numbers, your mind will likely fill with raging expletives. Those beautiful, outstretched digits you’re used to have shrunk, leaving even the most obnoxiously perky of people (you know the type) susceptible to a deep and dark despondency. Where has all your traffic gone? Are your loyal customers suddenly boycotting your business? And is there any way to get affordable help on your newly-found mental despair?
Don’t worry! Your website has not suddenly been cursed with 7 years’ bad luck. In fact, it is quite the opposite. The reason your numbers are lower is because of Google’s new referral spam fix — and it’s about to make your analytics even more meaningful!
What Is This ‘Referral Spam’ You Speak Of?
If you are accustomed to checking your website’s analytics, you know that a referrer is a HTTP header field that indicates the address (or URL) of a website that has linked to the site being analyzed. If you were looking at the analytics of your homepage, referrers would specify which sites were sending the most traffic to your website. Referrers can be links from banner ads, email newsletters, search engines, and so on. It’s great information to have because it can tell you which digital marketing strategies are working best for your company!
Referral spam is a pretty genius (albeit unethical) form of advertising. Basically, with a little bit of internet knowledge, HTTP headers can be altered to be any other site on the web — and the greedy, evil spammers of the world love to do just that. In doing so, spammers can promote the site of their choosing by flooding your website with requests.
How Do Spammers Benefit From…Well…Spamming?
As the smart and savvy business person you are, you frequently check your website’s analytics for new potential customers, right? Well, when you view your analytics and see that a certain site has hit your homepage a bajillion times, you will naturally want to follow up on the lead.
When you click that referral spam, you are entering the spammer’s rabbit hole. Savvy spammers will link you to an online store and even install a cookie onto your computer that will cut them a percentage of the check if and when you make a purchase.
So, are they really making money? While you may not be gullible enough to fall for their scheming tactics, some people are, and these spammers aren’t just spamming you — they’re spamming everybody out there. So hide yo’ kids and hide yo’ Wi-Fi!
The Light at the End of the Tunnel
Referral spam has been a recurring nightmare for Google Analytic’s users across the globe. While promises had been made to remove referral spam last year, Google failed to deliver. Instead, digital strategists have been resorting to very slow, and often times ineffective, workarounds in an effort to remove the spam.
Finally, there has been an answer to our digital marketing warrior battle cries! Google has fixed the problem by applying (what seems to be) a filter that can weed out referral spam before you procure your reports.
So, in conclusion: No, your traffic has not disappeared. No, your customers have not boycotted your business. And no, you do not need to hire a counselor to help you manage your stress (well, not because of this, anyway).
Google makes changes like this all the time. If you are prone to stressing out over the changes, Uptick Marketing can help. Contact us today!