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Web Communication Robert Frank

Spambot / Ghost Filter Expanded – Deployment Recommended

Google Analytics ghost filter

A dramatic increase in spambot / ghost referral traffic was noticed over the past two months in Google Analytics reports. To block the spambot / ghost data from corrupting your sites’ analytics, a substantially expanded spambot / ghost filter was developed and tested.

The previous filter was designed to stop about 25 of the biggest spambot / ghost offenders. The new filter is designed to stop about 225 of the leading culprits.

Web Communication will continue to monitor GA data/reports for new spambot/ghost offenders, and eventually will create a second filter. (We hit Google’s character limitation with this expansion.)

Website/Google Analytics account managers are strongly encouraged to deploy the updated filter as soon as possible. (Please note: Departments that are partnering with Web Communications to help maintain Google Analytics accounts/properties have already had their spambot/ghost filters updated.)

If you are maintaining your own GA accounts/properties, here are the steps involved. (Estimated time: 1-2 minutes)

  • Log into your Google Analytics account.
  • Select a Google Analytics account.
  • Click on “All Filters.”
  • Select the ‘referral spam bots ghosts’ filter.
  • Highlight and DELETE the old “Filter Pattern.”
  • Copy and paste in the following filter pattern in the same field:

(.*(rich|uptim|websi|money|rank|site-|seo|keyword|sexy|share|search|traffic|porn|-?social-?|-button|o-o-|semalt|Get-Free|buttons-|darodar|cookie-law|compliance-|law-|ilove).*)\.(com|net|org|biz|co|es|online|info)|.*\.(xyz|it|рф|top|xn|me|ga|рф|cf|ro|ru)

  • Check the first and last characters to make sure the entire filter pattern was accepted, and nothing was cut off.
  • Click ‘Save’.
  • Exit the account.

Thank you for your help in keeping WSU analytics accurate.

**Special thanks to Jeremy Bass for his expert coding in creating this filter.

Analytics properties linked to Search Console

google_search_console_image

Over the next few weeks, Web Communications will be “associating” Google Analytics properties (within the *.wsu.edu family) with their corresponding Webmaster Tools / Search Console accounts. About 40 associations have been completed so far.

The natural response: ‘So what? What is that going to do for me?’

The Search Console allows website/GA owners to better see:

  • What pages have been indexed on your site
  • What domains link to your site
  • Errors encountered by web crawlers
  • The crawl rate of your site
  • Your website’s performance in Google organic searches
  • More data regarding keywords, landing pages, devices, etc.

Please note: This step, to associate GA properties with their Webmaster Tools/Search Console, is being performed only on Google Analytics accounts over which the site owners have granted Web Communication access and permission to help. Site owners who maintain their own GA accounts, without Web Communications assistance, might want to take this step on their own, in order to benefit from the additional analytics data.

For additional information, see https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/4559176

Protect your Web analytics from spambots/ghosts

google analytics logoWebsite traffic from referral spambots/ghosts has been invading many WSU websites and corrupting the reliability of Google Analytics data – at both the site and universitywide level. As a result, spambot/ghost filters need to be deployed on all *.wsu.edu websites.

To combat spambot/ghost data corruption, WSU Web Communication has developed, tested and monitored several spam filters over the past several months.

Like email spam, the sources of this traffic mutate regularly and eventually get around the newest filters, at which point filters need to be reconfigured.

Spam in Google Analytics can be categorized by two types: ghosts and crawlers. Ghosts comprise the vast majority of referral spam. They are called ghosts because they never access your site, but they do corrupt site data and university’s global data.

On Tuesday, Feb. 23, the newest referral spam filter was deployed/updated to about 50 Google Analytics accounts and their properties. These are Google Analytics accounts which the site owner has granted Web Communication access and permission to help oversee.

However, there are a number of websites and corresponding Google Analytics accounts in the *.wsu.edu family with which Web Communication does not assist. Because the Google Analytics data from those websites negatively affects/corrupts universitywide global analytics, it is requested that those sites install an effective, current referral spam/ghost filter as soon as possible.

If you would like Web Communication to assist you with setting up and maintaining your Google Analytics, please contact Robert Frank, rfrank@wsu.edu, 335-7727. (Note: Ownership of GA accounts/properties always remain that of the site manager/owner. Web Communication is only there to help to the degree desired.)

Thanks in advance for your time and prompt help.

(Special thanks to Jeremy Bass, who has written the code for the spam/ghost filters.)

** FYI, don’t forget to check out universitywide analytics at https://analytics.wsu.edu