This week Google Analytics' accuracy has taken a nose dive from its already very low starting point with dozens of alleged single hit sessions per day on the home pages of most of my sites with the following characteristics:

  • Source: direct
  • User Type: New Visitor
  • Service Provider: google inc.
  • Network domain: 1e100.net
  • Country: United States
  • City: not set
  • Browser: Chrome 40.0.2214.111
  • OS: Macintosh Intel 10.10
  • Screen resolution: not set

Like much of the sackload of referrer spam Google sees fit to let through each day, this traffic shows no sign of ever having visited my actual web server. It seems just like referrer spam without the referrer.

Should I:

  • a. Roll out yet more filters across each site, possibly targeting the screen resolution?
  • b. Give up on GA in favour of some recommended alternative?
  • c. Wait for Google to get bought by someone with experience in big data and pattern matching?
  • 2
    The domain 1e100.net is a Google domain, however, it can be a Google internal server or a Google web host server. This is likely a very valid referrer. Check your log files to make sure. Please keep in mind that ghost referrals can be spoofed entirely and may actually have nothing to do with Google except for a weakness in their GA bug. Also please keep in mind that one of the people responsible for these ghost referrals hates Google and devised this mechanism (originally) to make Google look bad. It is working obviously. – closetnoc May 21 '15 at 18:48

Lately, ghost spam has been hitting in pairs with direct visits along with referrals, probably as a distraction. I've noticed this behaviour with free-share-buttons but probably there are other spammers that are doing it.

So now the problem comes because before you add the referral to a filter to stop it, but this won't stop the direct visit just the referral. Now if you check the hostname of the of those fake direct visits, you will see that it is either not set or just some fake hostname.

enter image description here

Taking this as a base, if you add a filter that only include valid hostnames you will stop all ghost spam whether it shows as a referral, keyword, page or direct visit. This is just one filter that will replace all those single filters and doesn't require much maintenance.

You can find more information about the valid hostname filter here:

https://stackoverflow.com/a/28354319/3197362

And this article for more details about spam and fake direct visit

http://www.ohow.co/unusual-increase-in-direct-traffic-on-ga-spam/

  • I have a ton of direct spam too, and filtered the referral spam well, but all the direct traffic appears to have valid hostname. I probably have no recourse then. – mikato Jul 27 '15 at 19:00
  • There are other cases (less frequent) were the cause of the direct traffic is harder to detect, it might be a bot, or a direct attack. This is also mentioned in the article a post above. Basically in this cases you should try to isolate the problem by checking some drastic changes on some dimensions, specially the flash version or the browser version. – Carlos Escalera Ohow Jul 27 '15 at 22:36

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