Preventing Website Referral Spam

Learn How to Avoid Website Referral Spam in San Diego, CA

Web site log files contain a list of sites that have links referring to your site. Often, webmasters review these records and visit the links they contain to see the context of Web site log files contain a list of sites that have links referring to your site. Often, the links leading to their site. In many cases, the host sites don’t include a referring link at all because the site owner used a spam bot to trick the website owner. This type of activity, known as referral spam, grows as people become increasingly desperate to earn money online. Saba, Inc., a boutique SEO firm in San Diego, elaborates on the growing issue below.

How Referral Spam Works

Website owners desiring to boost traffic to their site and increase sales or to increase advertising revenue use spam bots to crawl the web, leaving fake referral entries in server log files. Some estimates suggest that more than 60 percent of all traffic on the web comes from bots.

Referral spam tactics work because website owners and managers want to know what backlinks exist to their sites. Many log file analyzer programs and web-based utilities automatically create hyperlinks leading to referrers, simplifying the task of referrer analysis. By clicking on referral spam, users inadvertently boost the revenue and search engine page rank of offending sites, perpetuating the problem.

The Problem with Referral Spam

Although referral spam does not directly hurt anyone, referral spam causes two problems. First, the spam clogs referrer logs on websites around the world, making accurate log file analysis difficult. Referral spam can represent two-thirds or more of the referrals listed in small- and medium-sized site log files, making the information almost useless.

Secondly, the spam increases the power of Black Hat websites, increasing the occurrence of spam search engine results and perpetuating the problem. Some offending websites could also inject malware into visiting web browsers, making referral spam dangerous.

Preventing Referral Spam

Adding a .htaccess file is the easiest way to prevent referral spam because it blocks the bot before it has a chance to populate your log files with spam. When you deny access to the spam bots, you prevent them from creating referrer entries in your logs. An example of a .htaccess entry for this purpose follows:

RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} [NC]
RewriteRule .* – [F]

You can add additional lines of code for each source of referral spam you find in your log files. Exercise caution when editing your .htaccess file and ideally have someone in web development do it because a simple typo could cause your site to malfunction. Also, make sure you backup your original file before you edit it.

Learn more about web development and White Hat marketing strategies from Saba, Inc. We believe in a content-is-king strategy and help clients reach their target audience the right way. Give us a call today at (858) 277-1717.