Google Analytics is an incredibly powerful tool, but can appear to be full of misinformation to a layperson viewing raw unfiltered data. Your web analytics may include fake and inapplicable traffic that you were previously unaware of, like hits outside your area of interest or even spoofed visits generated by automated spam software. We will show you how to set up 3 basic Google Analytics filters to cut down on spam and irrelevant traffic coming through to your website.
1. Referrer Spam Filter (Ghost Spam)
We’ve all seen hordes of referrer spam at some point or another. A lot of these spammers have never even seen your website, which is why they’re called called Ghost Referrals.Through software voodoo, they’re able to ping your Google Analytics tracking ID to register as a hit on your website even when they never actually visited.
We can easily counteract these spammers with a filter following these 7 easy steps:
1. Click the Admin gear icon
2. Under View, select Filters
3. Click Add Filter
4. Name the filter “Referrer Spam Filter”
5. Under “Predefined” select the filter type of Include Only
6. In the Select Source or Destination tab, select Traffic to Hostname
7. Type in your domain under Hostname (eg. for website www.abc.com we would type in “abc”)
Voila! You have now successfully removed those spooky ghost referrals and can finally sleep again at night. This type of traffic is known to screw with a bunch of vital metrics so having it in place is absolutely essential.
2. Internal IP Filter
If you’re doing your job right, you and your team members probably visit your company and clients’ websites multiple times a day. Unless tracking internal employee activity via Google Analytics is important to you (it shouldn’t be),more than likely it is just muddying the waters. In this filter we are going to exclude any irrelevant traffic coming from either you or your team members by blocking your IP address.
To obtain your IP address you have a few options. If you’re a somewhat small operation, you can simply Google “what is my IP address” and Google will provide you your public IP address that looks something like this: 220.127.116.11
If you are a larger organization you might have multiple public IP addresses and may need to ask IT for the full list.
Once you have your IP address, the hard part is over. The filter is ridiculously simple to set up.
(Note: Steps 1-3 from the Referrer Spam Filter will be the same for all GA Filters)
1. Name this filter “Internal IP Filter”
2. Under “Predefined” select the filter type of Exclude
3. In the Select Source or Destination tab, select Traffic From The IP Addresses
4. Under Select Expression tab, select That Are Equal To
5. Plug in your IP address in the box below
3. Geography Filter
This type of filter might not be applicable to you depending on what kind of users you are trying to pull into your website. If you are running a roofing company that’s located in Detroit, you probably can’t convert traffic from India or Ukraine, but we’ve never seen your sales pitch. If you run a lifestyle blog, then traffic from other countries are probably legitimately areas of interest for you. Using the first example, let’s create a filter that removes all traffic outside of the United States:
1. Name this filter “Geo Filter”
2. Under the “Custom” tab, select Include
3. In the Filter Field, select Country
4. Now type in “United States” (without quotes) and leave Case Sensitive unchecked
Once this has been implemented, you’ll have much more relevant traffic data to measure from.
These filters are just the beginning of customization for anyone using Google Analytics, and the good news is there are SO many more! Is there a basic filter you love that didn’t make the list? Let us know.
Bennett Dungan is an Attribution Specialist with a passion for demystifying data into actionable insights. He graduated with a degree in Economics from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and loves lots of coffee.