by Kelly Lucas, client marketing director
If you’ve checked your Google Analytics lately, you may have noticed something a little odd. Many are reporting seeing the strange phrase “Ghost spam is free from the politics, we dancing like a paralytics” in their referring keywords report. But wait a second, you don’t have that phrase anywhere in your online copy, so how could it possibly have referred people to your site? And what the heck does it even mean? We can’t help you with the latter, but we can help shed a little light on the former.
“Ghost spam is free” is keyword spam. If you’re at all familiar with spam on websites, you probably first think of the spam comments, trackbacks and pings you can often get in the comments sections of your pages. This is when someone posts a comment in the hopes of driving visitors from your site to theirs or links to your site to capitalize on your SEO. Those are pretty straightforward.
So how does keyword spam work? After all, it’s not visible to your visitors in any way – it’s only visible in your Google Analytics dashboard. This insinuates that someone visited your site by searching for this phrase, but in reality, nobody actually did. Keyword spam isn’t likely to be a major threat you need to take immediate action to correct. It shouldn’t affect your page rank or interfere with traffic to the site, but it can sometimes be a drain on your bandwidth. It might not even do that, though, because some keyword spam comes directly from “ghost hits” by traffic bots that don’t actually come to your site.
I’m not an expert when it comes to the overly technical aspects of Google Analytics, so I won’t try to dissect this too much, I’ll let this post from Botcrawl.com do the work for me. The author, Sean Doyle, gives an excellent overview of what keyword spammers are doing. As for the main consequence, Doyle explains: “The biggest issue with keyword spam is that it can mess up your Google Analytics data. Keyword spam can ruin your website’s bounce rate. Search term traffic from dubious keyword spam hostname URLs mostly land on a single page on your website. They also leave from a single page. This can cause problems measuring your website’s appropriate bounce rate as keyword spam may create an artificial 100% rate. Keyword spam can also ruin other Google Analytics data including your Acquisition and Behavior data.” Doyle also provides a removal How-To so you can remove “Ghost spam is free” from your Analytics (or any other future keyword spam, for that matter).
Now you know you’re not crazy when you see this phrase and that you’re not alone in the struggle. It’s just yet another attempt by spammers to exploit your hard work and website.