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Nightmare On Web Street: Is Ghost Spam Haunting Your Website Data?

Dec 05, 2016 | by Emma Hanes | Google Analytics
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Managing a law firm website isn’t easy. It takes a lot of work to get a great website up and running and that’s only the beginning. Once you manage to get your website up and running, you will need to analyze your website’s performance data in Google Analytics to understand what is and what isn’t working. But can you really trust your website’s data? Maybe not. Websites are susceptible to something called Ghost Spam, which can corrupt your analytics and feed you false information. If your website is being haunted by Ghost Spam, there’s a good a chance you have no real idea how users are interacting with your website.

What Is Ghost Spam?

If you have an email address, you’re likely familiar with spam emails. But your inbox isn’t the only one that suffers from these unsolicited emails. Websites can also be the subject of several types of spam, including one type that could be corrupting your website’s analytics called Ghost Spam. 

Ghost Spam, sometimes referred to as Ghost Traffic, occurs when Google Analytics records false hits to your website. These fake visits are created by spammers to appear as referrals to your website, but no user has actually visited your site.

So Why Do Spammers Bother With Ghost Spam?

Unlike other types of spam, Ghost Spam doesn’t try to solicit money or get you to buy cheap pharmaceuticals, so why does Ghost Spam even exist? The answer is easy enough: the spammers want you to visit their website. The Ghost Spammers are hoping website owners will see the fake referrals from their website in Google Analytics and then click to their site to investigate where the referral came from.

To put it simply, the Ghost Spammers are trying to exchange a fake visit on your website for a real visit on their website.

Is My Website Doomed?

If this is the first time you’ve heard about Ghost Spam, you might be wondering if your website is already crawling with it. Honestly? It might be. But that doesn’t mean you’re doomed. Ghost Spam can skew your Google Analytics to make it look like you have more visitors, longer visits, and higher engagement, but it won’t really hurt your SEO value, put your website’s security at risk, or otherwise ruin your website.

So Who Cares About Ghost Spam Anyway? 

If you feel like you’ve dodged a bullet in regards to this ghost spam stuff, you are not out of the woods yet. You might not think false website data is a big deal, but Ghost Spam can horribly corrupt website data. If the average session duration on your website is over two minutes, you might be thinking your website is performing pretty well! But once you filter out Ghost Spam you might discover the real average session duration is less than ten seconds.

This scenario isn’t a ghost story either, but something I’ve witnesses first hand. Because the Ghost Spam was corrupting this website’s data, it also hid the fact that something was seriously wrong with the website. Visits under ten seconds mean users aren’t finding the information they need, and are leaving to find it elsewhere. Losing these visitors means you are losing potential clients.

 How Do I Get Rid Of Ghost Spam?

Unfortunately, filtering out Ghost Spam from your Google Analytics is not an easy process, and if done incorrectly, could end up deleting actual website data. But the problem doesn’t stop there. Your website could also be suffering from other types of spam like Crawler Spam. 

If you’re worried about your website, the website experts at Stacey E. Burke, P.C. can perform a check up, get rid of any nasty spam, make updates, and help you get the most out of your law firm’s website.

Sidebar emma hanes pic low res About Emma Hanes

Emma Hanes has written content for dozens of attorneys and law firms with a variety of different practice areas. Her work has been featured in the Top 10 Blog Posts from the Texas Bar Today and SmallLaw's Pick of the Week.


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