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What is bottraffic.live and how do I block it from Google Analytics?

February 2, 2021
Sam Zoloth
Head of Growth

Digital Marketing, Analytics, Google Analytics, Security

What is bottraffic.live and how do I block it from Google Analytics?

Last updated: 02/02/21

Over this past weekend, we saw a number of websites receive an abnormal spike in traffic. After looking into it a little bit we saw a pattern: the referral source and URLs the traffic was hitting included names like:

  • Bottraffic.live
  • Bot-traffic.icu
  • Traffic-bot

And other variations. Clearly something was up. And after briefly perusing Google, we confirmed we weren’t the only ones. 

We saw dozens of people reporting sources like bottraffic.live attacking their website. There was panic. We’re here to say that, as of now, this is less serious than it appears and we can help you fix your Google Analytics reports. 

What is bottraffic.live and why is it showing up in Google Analytics?

Bottraffic.live, bot-traffic.icu and other variations are likely part of a coordinated advertising effort from a single source. If you were to actually visit one of those sites, you’d be redirected to gammatraffic.com, which is currently showing a 522 hosting error. 

Gammatraffic seems to have been set up as a company that sells the ability to do what’s happening to your website: make fake traffic appear on your Google Analytics. They also seem to have done this before, using domains like getbottraffic4free.pw.

This traffic is showing up in your Google Analytics report to get you to look into their service - it’s a form of (frowned-upon) advertising, often called referral spam.

What is referral spam?

Referral spam is a form of advertising with the goal of getting backlinks. If a site targeted by referrer spam publishes its access logs and referrer statistics, it will inadvertently link back to the spammer’s site. The goal here is to get more links to a website in order to improve it’s SEO.

Another version of referral spam, which is likely what Gammatraffic / Bottraffic.live is doing, aims only to show up in your Google Analytics account in the hopes that you might visit the spammer’s website. 

This can be done without ever visiting your website. When that happens, it’s called Ghost Spam

 

Above is what ghost spam looks like: high traffic in Google Analytics, but not noticeable affect on your server.

Does referral spam harm my website?

Likely not. In the case of bottraffic.live/Gammatraffic, you’re likely experiencing ghost spam, meaning traffic is not actually hitting your site. Instead, it’s sending fake hits to Google Analytics. If this is the case, the only damage is that it can pollute your data. 

But this can be cleaned up!

How to block referral spam like bottraffic.live in Google Analytics

The quickest way to block a source of referral traffic going forward is to set up a filter in Google Analytics. 

You can have the filter to block the Request URI with the pattern: bottraffic\.live


 

However, this is not a perfect solution because it is not a complete solution. 

First of all, there will always be bots and they won’t always come from the same sources. So you’ll need to keep layering on filters going forward. 

Secondly, because of the way Google Analytics works, this does not clean up your historical data. This means that if you just add this filter, it will stop that traffic from showing up in the future, but the data you’ve already collected is tainted. 

Here’s how to retroactively fix your Google Analytics data affected by referral spam:

  1. Go to a view in Google Analytics where you can edit your Segments
  2. Create a new one and call it something like “All Users - Excluding Bot Traffic”
  3. Set an advanced condition to filter users to exclude visits to pages containing bottraffic

If you’ve been hit with multiple different domains (like bottraffic.live and bot-traffic.icu) you can set up another advanced condition filter using the “OR” button and following the same steps. 

Still have questions or want a more thorough audit?

Our team lives and breathes Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager. Give me a shout at szoloth[at]adkgroup.com with your issue or message me on LinkedIn and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!