Fixing metrics skewed by bots in Google Analytics
While checking my website statistics in Google Analytics I noticed something very strange. The bounce rate (percentage of visitors that leave the website after visiting only one page) had increased significantly for a number of websites I manage. I had never before seen a bounce rate higher than 90% on any of my websites, so I decided to investigate. The culprit turned out to be a slew of “referrals” from the website semalt.com with each having a bounce rate of 100%.
Semalt claims that it’s bots crawl sites mimicking real users in order to “gather statistical data”. Since I have never signed up for Semalt’s “service” these visits are annoying and they skew the statistics that Google Analytics shows by default. The website offers a removal tool to have your website excluded from it’s crawler but some users have also claimed that this simply causes Semalt to try using alternative referral sites and may actually cause the crawling to increase in frequency.
I found a workaround for this referral spam problem on Google Groups. You can exclude semalt as a referral from all your websites or exclude Semalt as a referral from individual websites. I chose to try out the filterring solution first of all and from early assessment it seems to be working. Besides semalt.com I also excluded kambasoft.com and savetubevideo.com since websites with from those domains were also creating referral spam.
I will continue to monitor my website statistics to see if the problem reoccurs. If anyone has noticed similar activity I hope this workaround can help. If you have discovered a better solution please feel free to share it in the comments.