Spam is never innocuous. In fact, it can break any unprotected website. It is difficult to tell if your users are real people or spam bots that distort the stats. Traffic from unwanted sources can overwhelm your site with fake data. Here is what to do.
What Harm Can Spammers Cause?
Spam is used for many purposes, none of which are praiseworthy. First, bots leave comments with nefarious links to harvest your users’ data. It is then used for unethical SEO — promotion of other websites. Secondly, they can fill submission forms, causing an overload. Your website slows down, which is detrimental to user experience and can potentially hurt your bottom line.
Today, it is easy to detect the presence of malicious actors. Visit the IP blacklist database on https://cleantalk.org/blacklists and check any domains, IP addresses, emails, or subnets you like. You can also see if your domain has been compromised. If this happens, marketing campaigns become a waste of time and money.
Signs of Spam Traffic
Website owners monitor traffic through Google Analytics. To be detected, bots should crawl one page per session with a 100% bounce rate. Otherwise, each session should be less than 1 minute long. When the number of accessed pages skyrockets with one view per each, this indicator becomes a dead giveaway. Here are the key components to focus on:
- User Traffic;
Examine your traffic over the past few months to identify any spikes. The causes can be perfectly legit, as an effective marketing campaign. However, if the data reveals just a one-page view for most of the pages, you are probably looking at spam traffic.
Usually, spam traffic originates in a specific city. Head to the Audience section to find Geo and Location. If no country stands out, narrow down your view to the cities. As spam sources send a lot of traffic, they are usually found among the top-listed locations. This is only a starting point to look at servers, and you should never use location as a filter.
Internet Service Provider
You can uncover the source of suspicious traffic — at least, a portion of it. Go to Audience → Technology → Network → Service Provider. Use the filtering options to identify providers with the shortest sessions (under 1 second) or lowest number of pages per session.
By switching to Hostname, you can identify suspicious URLs. For example, SEO service links like auto-seo-services.org are often used for spamming.
While referrals are generally positive, some of them may also originate on spam sites. Legit referrals should come from social media and industry resources, as they are part of your link buildinglink-building efforts.
The Bottom Line
Prevent spam by installing dedicated plugins, and monitor your stats regularly. Do not let bots undermine your reputation and sales. Weed out suspicious IPS and domains. You may also add them to blacklists on CleanTalk.