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Google Analytics Spam Vitaly

Discussion in 'Social Media, SEO/SEM & Online Marketing' started by Cody, Dec 21, 2016.

  1. Cody

    Cody

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2016
    Messages:
    649
    I thought I'd do my weekly Analytics check for TWF today, and whilst our traffic is still really good, I noticed something very odd in our "Language" overview.

    See image
    Screen Shot 2016-12-21 at 12.56.11.png
    This is Ghost Spam.

    Don't worry - it's not the type of spam that could cause any real harm to your website. It's a technique used by - from what seems like - a very famous anti-analytics spammer called Vitaly Popov. A technique used to drive traffic from your site (In our case TWF) to this other persons website...

    I have also found out that the spammer uses legit sites as spam, such as blackhatworld.com - and to my amazement, there it is in my channels referral.

    From what I have found, this spam doesn't actually access your website, only the data in your GA account, and somehow sends traffic from your site to theirs.

    However there is a way to stop ghost spam by creating a filter in your GA account.

    Here's a thread showing how to do just that - Link

    Here's how to stop Ghost Spam all together in your GA account - Link

    Here's a thread from 2015 with issues from tons of people regarding the same spammer - link.

    Has anyone else had issue with this Vitaly guy as of yet? Check your GA reports and let us know, and how you resolved it?

    Hopefully someone understands it a lot more than I do.

    Thanks
    Gary and Dean like this.
  2. Miss Rose

    Miss Rose

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    Apr 28, 2016
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    7
    That is very strange, I've never heard of this before! Thank you for the info Cody! Am interested to know if anyone else has more information to share on this?
  3. Dean

    Dean

    Joined:
    May 22, 2008
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    Thanks for this @Cody. I've just checked our main website and we have the same.

    I've followed the instructions on the link to stop Ghost Spam all together but I'm a bit confused. When I click on the Hostname view as described, I get a list that includes my domains as expected but then also the following...

    (not set)
    blog.google
    www.foxnews.com
    mashable.com
    google.org
    lifehacker.com
    books.google.com
    www.bbc.com
    www.usatoday.com
    mail.google.com
    nypost.com
    moz.com
    www.cnn.com
    techcrunch.com
    www.telegraph.co.uk

    Are these are the domains the ghost spam is forwarding to? Therefore I take it these are the ones that I need to filter out?
  4. Cody

    Cody

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    Feb 17, 2016
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    649
    This was an area I too was confused with (the instructions weren't very clear) however I believe the valid ones (real sites) is when you want to "include" instead of "exclude".

    Exclude from what I can tell is when you want to stop the spam.

    'You will see a list of all hostnames, including the ones that the spam uses. Make a list of all the valid hostnames you find, as follows:
    • yourmaindomain.com
    • blog.yourmaindomain.com
    • es.yourmaindomain.com
    • payingservice.com
    • translatetool.com
    • anotheruseddomain.com
    For small to medium sites, this list of hostnames will likely consist of the main domain and a couple of subdomains. After you are sure you got all of them, create a regular expression similar to this one:

    yourmaindomain\.com|anotheruseddomain\.com|payingservice\.com|translatetool\.com

    Then create a Custom Filter.

    Make sure you select INCLUDE, then select "Hostname" on the filter field, and copy your expression into the Filter Pattern box.'


    If that makes sense.

    I however used the instructions from this link as it focused on putting a block on the domains owned by Vitaly.

    Hope someone more experienced in this can help a lot more than I can :s
  5. Cody

    Cody

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2016
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    It may also take a view days for Analytics reports to update - so in the mean time you may still see the Language spam keyphrase still there.
  6. Dean

    Dean

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    May 22, 2008
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    I get that you need to include the valid ones but how do you tell from that list which are the valid ones? Going by their instructions then I need to 'exclude' all the ones in my the list I posted above but I'm worried that might block something important!

    Using the other method will only block the vitaly one from what I can tell. It won't block that 'vote for trump' one that we also have. That one had 91 referrals through us :mad:
  7. Cody

    Cody

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    Feb 17, 2016
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    I'm still looking into that as we speak, there's not much information that explains it clearly.

    The vote for trump can be explained in this link, also shows you how to block that.

    I must say to everyone PLEASE be careful obviously be very safe when doing this. As @Dean said if you don't know what you're doing you might block something important.

    I'll try to keep everyone updated with more into this.
    Dean likes this.
  8. Gary

    Gary

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    Aug 22, 2009
    Messages:
    16,314
    I won't even pretend to understand this one, I have heard of ghost spam but (luckily) not experienced any (yet), but I'll be bookmarking this thread just in case!
    Cody likes this.
  9. Cody

    Cody

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    Feb 17, 2016
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    It is pretty harmless to be fair, ghost spam doesn't actually access your site, only your GA data, which is annoying, if especially your reports really do matter to you. But it does still steal your traffic (how, when it doesn't access you site is beyond me).
    Gary likes this.
  10. Cody

    Cody

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2016
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    Update!

    Having gone ahead with this filter change (ensured by so many it is safe to do so) I noticed from 21st December to 7th January Google Analytics stopped tracking the data all together! :mad:

    Very frustrated right now - the filter was removed a few days ago due to myself believing this was the issue, and what do you know, Google Analytics is back up and tracking. However there is still no data for that time it went missing.

    If you included the filter, remove it now - that does also mean from the looks of it there's no way to stop the ghost spam!!
  11. liamhawes

    liamhawes

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2010
    Messages:
    2,085
    Can't you individually add each one into a don't track list of some sort? I used to do this, but the numbers became pretty negligible so I don't waste my time hiding them now.

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