How to identify when your increased traffic is just spam?

An increase in traffic is always an occasion to be celebrated. But there might be a few things to keep in mind before you give yourself a pat on the back. An increase in organic traffic doesn’t always equal an increase in users. That doesn’t mean you have to doubt and cross-check every increase in your organic traffic. But understanding if the rise in your organic traffic is a scam or legit can make a world of difference.

What is spam traffic? 

Spam traffic is any kind of fraudulent or misleading activity that tries to send fake traffic to a website. Spam traffic can come from many sources, like bots, infected websites, or malicious ads. Spam traffic can have a negative impact on your website in many ways. It can skew your analytics data, give you false-positive results, and even lead to your site being blacklisted by Google.

Why do spammers send in bot traffic? 

There are many reasons why spammers might want to send in bot traffic. They could be trying to inflate their own website’s traffic numbers or generate ad revenue by clicking on ads on your website. Spammers might also be trying to gather information about your website or its users. So, how do you determine spam traffic? Here are a few metrics to help you.

Average Session Duration:  If you see a sudden and drastic decrease in the average session duration, it is an indication that something is not right. The users might be landing on your website and immediately leaving, which can be because of low-quality content, bad design, too many pop-ups, or spam. Usually, spam traffic doesn’t spend too much time on your website. So, if your average session duration is doubtfully low despite the increase, something is going on.

Bounce Rate: A high bounce rate indicates that people are landing on your website and then leaving without taking further action. This could be because they didn’t find what they were looking for on your website or didn’t have a good experience browsing through your website. Another reason for having a high bounce rate is spam. When looking at a high bounce rate, it’s essential to determine if the high bounce rate is a result of poor user experience or spam.

Pages per Session: If you see a significant decrease in the pages per session, people are not spending much time on your website. Spam traffic is more likely to visit only one page and then leave, which would result in a decrease in the pages per session.

Source of Traffic: Take a look at the source of your traffic. If you see an increase in traffic from unknown or untrustworthy sources, it’s probably spam. Spam traffic is often generated by bots that simulate real-user behavior and is often hidden within referral traffic. Spam traffic can also come from malicious ads or infected websites. If you see an increase in traffic from any of these sources, it’s most likely spam.

These metrics are a few things you would like to keep in mind when checking for spam traffic. So, what should you do when you figure out that the sudden increase in web traffic is nothing but spam. Thankfully, Google is quick to help you filter web traffic. Here’s how to do it:

Creating an advanced filter against spam traffic: An advanced spam filter will let you filter incoming traffic onto your website and only let genuine users access your services. However, creating an advanced filter also means that it applies to all data coming to and from your website. Here’s a step by step to create an advanced filter:

  1. Login to your Google Analytics account.
  2. Click on the Admin tab.
  3. In the View column, click on Filters.
  4. Click on +New Filter.
  5. Enter a name for the Filter you’re creating and select Create new Filter.
  6. In the Filter Type drop-down menu, select Custom.
  7. In the Exclude all traffic drop-down menu, select traffic from known bots and spiders.
  8. Checkmark both Bot Traffic and Spider Traffic options under Select Source or Destination Hostname.
  9. Click Save to finish creating your Filter.

While an advanced filter will help you filter out most of the spam traffic coming to your website, your real solution lies in understanding the root cause of spam traffic and why it is happing to your website in the first place.

If you see a sudden increase in web traffic, it’s important to double-check it. There are a few key metrics you can look at to determine if the traffic is real or not. If you see a decrease in the pages per session, an increase in traffic from untrustworthy sources, or a reduction in on-site time, it’s most likely spam. You can create an advanced filter in Google Analytics to help block known bots and spiders. You can also use a tool like Cloudflare to help protect your website from malicious traffic. Finally, you can keep an eye on your website’s Referrer logs to look for any suspicious activity. By taking these steps, you can help ensure that your website’s traffic comes from real, engaged users.

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