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Category Archives: News

Have you noticed ghost spam in Your Google Analytics data?

keep outFighting spam has always been a hard-fought, epic battle which has still yet to be conquered successfully. Google Analytics is one of the leading tools available for gathering and analysing data about your website but unfortunately, its data been compromised in the past through various hackers. This has left many website owners frustrated and confused about how to interpret their reports, since it was not known whether their statistics were not a true reflection of actual website traffic.

Back in 2014, several bots (website crawlers used by Search Engines) were hacked to visit websites and leave fake referral data within the Analytics reporting. Since then, there have been many similar instances from various sources including fake organic search terms or fake events being reported. Whilst Google’s spam defences are always improving, the fight is a tough one for  them. By not discussing their tactics and strategies to overcome this problem, they are keeping their security systems private, away from the hackers prying ears.

The Next Web Ghost Spam Referrals

There have been many reports recently of a Russian hacker by the name of Vitaly Popov who managed to find a way to use a fake Google domain to send referral spam into Google Analytics. The hacker registered a domain name almost identical to Google but with replacing the first letter “g” with a Unicode character set of the letter instead. This resulted in fake referral mentions being contaminated within the Google Analytics data.

The intention behind this hacking incident was in this case not to expose any vulnerabilities or hotlinking to images. Instead, he successfully managed to leave a political message within the domains’ referral links.

The original message appeared as: “Secret.ɢoogle.com You are invited! Enter only with this ticket URL. Copy it. Vote for Trump!””

Visitors who would be intrigued by the new URL would be tempted to trace it back to its original source. As a result, this would then boost the popularity of the hacker’s own website further. The hits appeared as though they were coming from thenextweb.com but in fact, they were not.

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Ghost referral data appearing as though it was coming from thenextweb.com when in fact, it wasn’t.

How To Remove Google Analytics Referral Spam

Most Google Analytics ‘ghost referrals’ spam can be blocked by using a single filter for a valid hostname. These are websites that you have configured to use within the Google Analytics account, such as ecommerce shopping carts or associated call tracking services. Since the ghost or fake referral traffic never actually goes to your website, it isn’t actually possible to block the visits, either through the .htaccess file or through any plugins.Therefore, setting up a filter which excludes them makes good sense.

The main problem with spam referrals is that they tend to continuously change and reappear, meaning new filters are always required. Our recommendation is to continually check the data showing from your website’s referrals and test to ensure the information is legitimate, to the best of your knowledge. Hopefully there will be a time in the future when your Google Analytics data can be entirely spam-free but until then, take care!

Net66 Would Like to Thank Our Client

Net66 like to be there for our clients and strive to go above and beyond what “traditional companies” would do. We never ask for anything in return other than a continued business relationship.

That’s why it’s always nice when we receive something back from our clients. The Space Collective have been working with Net66 for years now and enjoy a great relationship with ourselves. We’ve presided over the rebuild of two of their websites and successfully optimise both of them.

As a show of thanks for all we do, Richard very kindly sent us a box of goodies. Treats included astronaut food (I bagsied the cookie and cream ice cream sandwich), genuine pieces of the Moon and Mars and some lovely jewellery.

Check out the images of our team enjoying the goodies below:

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We’d like to thank Richard for sending over these gifts and look forward to living a long and prosperous business partnership.

Thanks Richard

Blog Post by: Greg McVey

Net66: Typically Irish Google Doodle for St Patricks Day

As we all know Google LOVES making Doodles. None more so for special occasions and what a special occasion it is today.

Today, if you’re unaware, is St Patrick’s Day. St Patrick is the best know Patron Saint of Ireland and observations are held every year on the anniversary of his death to remember him. Or, if you’re a more modern observer of St Patrick’s Day, to make everything Green and drink Guiness until you’re…well, green.

Google are celebrating a bit more conservatively than the vast majority of people and has published an animated .gif of 6 little four leaf clovers having themselves a merry little jig.

Check out the image below:

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What do you think of Google’s latest Doodle?

Blog post by: Greg McVey

Net66: Google Releases Annual “A Year In Search Video” Check Out These Trends

Google has taken a look at the past years search and put together a nifty little web page and video looking at all of the search trends in 2014.

One of the trends Google focused on was Sport. And what a year for sport it has been. There’s been the World Cup, the Sochi Games, La Decima and more.

In fact one of the questions that trended most in 2014 was “What is La Decima?”, which is, of course, the 10th European Cup/Uefa Champions League Cup for Real Madrid. They finally won their 10th trophy with the last one coming in the 2001/02 season over 10 years ago.

Off the topic of Sport there were the more serious trending topics such as ebola and the Malaysian Airlines plane that vanished into thin air.

Ebola caused the 5th highest spike in search traffic in October this year, despite initial reports of Ebola all the way back in March. This coincided with the virus’ first appearance in Spain and most likely had the whole of Europe searching on the topic.

The Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 was also one of the most searched for topics this year after it disappeared without trace just an hour after taking off. The highest peak of searches on this topic was in April when searches for “MH370 Found” rocketed .

Check out the top 5 searches related to this topic:

> MH370 news
> MH370 found
> MH370 latest news
> MH370 update
> MH370 missing

Another one of the trending topics this year was the death of Robin Williams who claimed his own life. The accolades, support and outpouring of love from the whole of the acting world was huge. The general public as well had a huge response to the news and offered a lot of support and well wishes to Robin’s daughter, Zelda.

There were also less serious items in the news such as “Selfie Tips”, “Buy Pharrel’s hat”, “How To Teleport” and “Flappy bird cheats”.

Blog Post by: Greg McVey

Net66: Google Releases Festive Search Bars

Google LOVES a doodle, and this year it looks like they’re not letting the chance to throw one out there get away. They’ve already released a feature rich Santa Tracker, and now they’ve updated their search bars for queries relating to Christmas, Kwanzaa and Hanukkah (Chanukkah).

These bars are triggered when either of the seasons festivals are included in a search string. Check them out below of search for yourself. [Christmas] [Hanukkah] [Kwanzaa]

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What festival are you celebrating this year?

Blog Post by: Greg McVey

Net66: Penguin Goes Panda, Moves to Continuous Updates

There’s been quite a bit or furore over the latest penguin algorithm. Initially it rolled out, and then continued to roll out even over Thanksgiving which Google usually tries to avoid doing.

It now seems that there will be no “end” to the algorithm rollout. A Google Spokesperson has today confirmed that the rollout of Penguin will be continuous.

Here’s what they had to say:

That last big update is still rolling out — though really there won’t be a particularly distinct end-point to the activity, since Penguin is shifting to more continuous updates. The idea is to keep optimising as we go now.

This means that we’re likely to stop getting updates from Google when they do update the algorithm. As we all know Google stopped confirming Panda updates some while ago. And now it looks like they’re set to do the same for Penguin.

What do you think of this?

Blog Post by: Greg McVey

Net66: Yahoo Search Share Jumps to Almost 30% on Firefox

We’ve announced previously that the default search engine for Firefox has switched from Google to Yahoo. The resulting traffic boost has been huge for Yahoo with a reported 29.4% increase of searches on their search engine from Firefox users.

This was rolled out with the automatic upgrade from Firefox 33 to Firefox 34 and analytics firm Statcounter have released the following information:

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They also added:

Yahoo search was used three times more on Firefox 34 than on Firefox 33.

It just goes to show how meaningful these types of deals are for huge companies.

Blog Post by: Greg McVey

Net66: Anna Freud, Daughter of Sigmund, Honour with Google Doodle

Almost everyone knows of Freud and his work and I’m sure the same people and more have heard of a Freudian Slip. Well today his Daughter, Anna, is honoured with a Google Doodle to celebrate what would have been her 119th birthday.

Anna Freud was a specialist in the psychoanalysis of children’s psychology. Being the youngest of 6 in Freuds family, Anna is credited by her father as the founder of psychoanalytical Child psychology alongside Melanie Klein.

Anna’s work also led to the set up of the Anna Freud Centre which, to this day, still aims to promote and progress the psychoanalytical child psychology.

Check out the Doodle Below:

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Blog Post by: Greg McVey

Net66: Google Launches This Years Santa Tracker

Google has today launched they’re annual Santa Tracker. As if the excitement of getting to open your Advent Calendar for a whole two days now wasn’t enough, you can now count down the days to Christmas Eve and the start of Santa’s journey online.

Check out the video below:

There’s also a whole host of festive games to play, along with some educational sections too. Including one that looks at the different Christmas Traditions around the world.

Check out the images below of some of the great features of this years tracker:

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Blog Post by: Greg McVey