In the last year, I’ve noticed that clients sometimes get unusual spikes in traffic in their Google Analytics. I looked at one of them yesterday and there were 50 visits lasting less than a second each.
When I looked deeper into the report, I saw that those visits came from sites like “semalt” and “darodar.” You may have noticed visits from those sites in your own analytics in the past year.
Most of these sites are sending bots or spiders to your site in order to either get links back to their sites when your company publishes certain logs (which most small companies don’t), or they want you to click on their links so they get more traffic to their sites.
Actually, it’s more complicated than that, but it’s the best I can do to briefly explain so you won’t panic when you see those weird spikes in traffic and weird referrals.
If you want to get into the weeds on the matter, check out this article Ghost Referrals by Nick Baker.
For small companies, these phony visits are annoying. It makes you look like you have more traffic than you actually have by spiking the number of visits. At the same time, it makes your web pages look like they are performing poorly because it looks like folks just came to your site and immediately left (high bounce rate).
Easy Web Tip #207: If your web traffic has unexplained surges in traffic and high bounce rates, be aware that you may be the victim of ghost analytics wreckers.
P.S. Since this was written, Google has improved their screening out of this problem. But not completely.