IntroductionMany have noticed a serious problem in their Google Analytics data. Suddenly there is a significant increase in traffic reported. Not only in the Referral category, but also Direct. When you check Referrals, you will see a lot of suspicious domains. These domains do not generate any traffic at all. They simply trigger the GA tracking code.
Test of Google Analytics for fake/spammy trafficWe bought a new domain and placed only a simple empty html page on it. We set up robots.txt to Disallow everything. The domain has never been used, never indexed by Google. There is a google analytics option to exclude traffic from all known bots. This setting did not help at all. This is the data from the past month. We emphasize that the website is empty with only a single empty html file. The domain is new, it could not attract that many direct traffic at all.
The structure of the traffic was like this:
The interesting part is, that these spam bots can fake any kind of traffic. Not only a typical spam with bounce rate 100% and average time 0s. Now, you can see that despite having only a single html page, the average number of pages per visit is 1.19.
Conclusion & Solution
These statistics indicate that Referral and Direct traffic cannot be trusted without filters set up. Google has not made any significant change within the past several months. One of the options that might help significantly reduce the referral and direct fake traffic is using filters as described in this article: How to filter out fake Google Analytics traffic. Share your experience with fake traffic in comments. Share this post, to inform those who might not be aware of.