Is your traffic legitimate or spam?

Jun 24, 2022 by
Is your traffic legitimate or spam?

In online marketing circles, one of the greatest joys in our careers is watching traffic numbers gradually tick up. However, sometimes if something seems too good to be true then it probably is. If you’ve noticed a major spike in numbers in recent days and can’t pinpoint why exactly, you might simply be getting a lot of unwanted spam traffic.

Spam traffic is completely useless and actually damaging as it gives you an unrealistic and inflated impression of your popularity and could lead you into making some very unwise decisions. But how can you sort the wheat from the spam, as it were?

For that, you’re going to need to bring up our old friend Google Analytics, select the “Audience Overview” feature and go through it with a fine tooth comb, looking specifically at the following areas.

Session duration

The average session duration statistic shows how long, on average, a person spends on your site. If you’re seeing lots of traffic around the 1 or 2-second mark then it’s more than likely to be spam as spam bots very rarely spend any serious amount of time on a site before moving on.

Bounce rate

This is a little trickier to ascertain but it’s still valuable. Your bounce rate refers to the percentage of users that landed on one page and “bounced” before clicking on another. Obviously, lots of spambots do this but so do lots of human beings.

To gain an insight into the “bot or not” question you need to contextualise the data. For example, if the page in question is the contact page, it’s likely they took note of the email address and then left the site. What you really want to look for are bounce rates that seem too low. Remember what we said about things seeming too good to be true?

Pages per session

This metric logs how many different pages a user clicked on per session. Spam traffic will generally have viewed only 1.00 pages so if you’re noticing thousands of traffic logging at 1.00 here then you’ve probably got yourself a spam traffic problem.

New users

The vast majority of websites thrive on new users but they depend on return users. If your site is reporting that close to 100% of your users are new users then it could be spam. To get a definitive answer, match the new users with your historic data and watch for a spike. That’s where the spam probably took hold.

You should also be checking your referral traffic, which can be found under “Traffic Sources.” Here, you can single out the sources sending out spam traffic and do something about it.

Getting rid of the spam

If you’ve figured out you have a spam problem, here are a few tips for taking affirmative action against it.

  • Single out the spammy backlinks and disavow them, where possible.
  • Filter all spam traffic in Google Analytics so you’re not getting any artificially inflated figures. Note, however, that this only blocks traffic from bots that Google already knows about.
  • Keep an eye on it. Because if you don’t it will continue to filter through and damage your analytical tactics. Run regular audits, check regularly on the metrics outlined above and, of course, add the bot filter to Google Analytics as soon as possible.