How to remove spammy referral traffic from Google Analytics

Analyzing your Google Analytics content may get tricky if you are getting a lot of non-human visits on your website. Spammy traffic adds absolutely no value, it may however completely skew your traffic data, and many metrics that are based on sessions (e.g bounce rate). Spammy traffic usually appears under the Referral source in your Google Analytics, but in some cases it may also show as Direct, or even Organic search traffic.


Referral spammy traffic


Ways to remove spammy traffic from Google Analytics

  • Using Google Analytics Filters.
  • Using Referral exclusion list (DO NOT USE!)

OPTION 1 – Remove spammy traffic using Google Analytics Filters

1) Identify referrer spam

Go to Referrals report in your Google Analytics and sort it by Bounce Rate in Descending order.

Sources with 100% or 0% Bounce Rate, and at least a few Sessions, are very likely to be spammy referrers.

If the list is long you may want to Export the Google Analytics report and open in Excel.

Export Google Ananlytics report


2) Block identified referrer spam using Google Analytics Filters

Once you have the list of referrer spam, you can block it from visiting your website using Google Analytics Custom Advanced Filter as shown below.


Step 1 –> Go to the Admin section of your Google Analytics.

Step 2 –> Click on All Filters.

Step 3 –> Click +New Filter.

Step 4 –> In Filter Name box enter a name that you want to use for this filter (e.g. “Remove Spammy Traffic”).

Step 5 –> Under the Filter Type section choose Custom.

Step 6 –> From the Filter Field drop down chose Request URI.

Step 7 –> In the Filter Pattern box list all Referrers that you want to block from visiting your website. Make sure to separate them with a pipe (|).

If the list of referrers that you want to block is very long, you may want to use an Excel formula in order to separate your referrers with a pipe. Download an Excel spreadsheet with a formula here, but be sure not to go over 255 character as otherwise Google Analytics will throw an error.


Custom Filter Google Analytics

It is highly advisable that you create an annotation on your Google Analytics  chart that explains about the newly created Filters. In order to add annotation go to Admin–>View–>Annotations, or  click directly under the GA chart on the down arrow and create annotation there.


OPTION 2 – Referral exclusion list

DO NOT USE THIS METHOD! Using this method will only hide the problem. If you use this method the blocked referrers will be appearing as Direct traffic in your Google Analytics reports.


How to remove spammy referral traffic from Google Analytics