Washingpost.com in your referral traffic in Google Analytics is highly likely an indication of referral spam. More specifically, this campaign is quite similar to the Vitaly spam campaigns that have been quite active lately. The Russian spammer has been on a rampage, using legitimate or legitimate-looking domain names to affect GA data:
If you see an unusual amount of referral traffic coming from these websites, carefully read the article to learn how to block it. Referral spam may not be malicious but it leads to GA data devaluation and may be harmful in the long-term.
Is Washingpost.com Referral Spam Harmful?
As already mentioned, this type of spam is not directly harmful to a website but it can devaluate GA data. The traffic from referral spam can disturb nearly any data in GA reports. Furthermore, you may not be able to assess your website’s actual bounce rate. For the rate to be accurate you will need to filter the spam traffic out. Continue reading to learn how to block it permanently.
Carlos Escalera from Ohow.com has summarized the characteristics of the washingtonpost.com referral spam:
- Hostname used: nypost.com may show other fake hostnames and sometimes your domain
- Bounce Rate: either close to 0 or 100%
- Avg. Session time: close to 0 s
- Landing page: /
- Location/Country: Mainly from Samara, Russia
- Page title: from Vitaly
- Language spam: Congratulations to Trump and all americans
More about Ghost Referral
Also known as ghost referral, the name of this spam suggests that the spamming software related to it aims to crawl a website and stay on it for longer periods of time undetected. The nickname “ghost” comes from the fact that most spamming software of such type uses the free HTTP protocols to connect remotely to the targeted website and spam “from a distance” without even being directly connected and present on the site as a bot/user. This spam may quickly render the statistics on a website it attacks useless, making research from those statistics, practically impossible, changing popular posts and other information. It can even target separate parts of the GA information of a website.