A few days ago, I noticed a tweet from Amy Ozten:
If you’re a blogger, check your Google Analytics. There’s such a thing called Language Spam, and you might have it. https://t.co/oZ4mIkwF7P
— AmyOztan (@AmyOztan) December 5, 2016
I decided to look at my Google Analytics to see if I was being hit with this. When I loaded the stats for my new GhostThiefNovel.com website, I saw a big spike in traffic. My first thought was “hooray! My efforts to get the word out about my novel are paying off.” Sadly, though, my traffic hadn’t spiked all that much. Instead, my Ghost Thief site was being hit with the very Language Spam that Amy Oztan was talking about.
Needless to say, this upset me a bit. And when I’m upset, I tend to do what I always fall back on…
(What? Everyone doesn’t collect data when they’re upset?)
I checked some other sites I manage and sure enough many of those were hit with the language spam just like my Ghost Thief site was. Thankfully, I was able to create a Google Analytics filter to weed out the spam. It won’t block the spammers from hitting your site (something that I’m actually working on), but it will let you see your actual traffic minus the “Vote Trump” language spam. Fortunately, Google lets you share out custom built filters (they call them segments), so click here to add it to your Google Analytics.
Next, I started to wonder where all this language spam was coming from. Was this spread out all over or was it localized in one region? I went through all of the sites whose Google Analytics I have access to and put together a spreadsheet. The results were obvious right from the start. There was a large array of countries that the spam was coming from including France, Japan, Hungary, and even the United States. By far, though, Russia accounted for the most language spam traffic. Russia’s share was 98.4% of the traffic. The closest countries – the United States and Ukraine – were tied at 0.19% each.
Put in a graph:
What’s the takeaway from this? Well, Russian hackers have been in the news a lot, so it’s tempting to bring them up and try to link these two topics. I don’t think they are linked – except in the sense of Internet “bad guys” coming from Russia. Also, it’s tempting to just say “Block all traffic from Russia,” but valid traffic can come from there as well. If your target audience is localized enough, blocking a whole country might work, but this definitely isn’t the right solution for most people. Instead, for now, use the Google Analytics filter to get your real traffic numbers and stay tuned as I work on my “anti-language spam” Google plugin.
Oh, and check out my book’s website. It’d be nice for the numbers to spike because of real traffic and not because of some spammers.