#WorldMentalHealthDay: The Impact of Social Media on Mental Health

Social media is everywhere and it’s hard to avoid it. We use it daily to check the news, rant about bad products for almost instant customer service and just share pictures of cute animals (yes, we’re guilty of this as well) but have you ever considered how this might be affecting your mental health? 

Talking about mental health is no longer a taboo subject but not many people ever consider how certain aspects of social media might be having a negative effect on our mental health. We’ve looked into the ways it can affect us mentally and how to use social media to improve those days where getting out of bed can seem like a chore. 

Endless amounts of selfies

With the introduction of Instagram in 2010, using your phone for photography has never been more popular. The original concept of Instagram was to communicate solely on pictures. Instagram shot up from 100,000 users within the first week to 1 million in 2 months. The modern use of Instagram is to share our selfies with the online world. However, have you ever considered how many photos a person takes to get the photo they feel confident enough to share? 

Instagram and Facebook have taken the step to ban unhealthy hashtags such as #thinspiration and ban images of men/women girls/boys who look unhealthily thin in an act to improve our body image and mental health. However, accounts have managed a way around these and they still exist today. Users who regularly post selfies strive for perfection and, if an image doesn’t get a lot of likes, this may encourage the user to believe that it’s because of the way they look. This can leave lasting damage to mental health and self-esteem. 

Fake News or Lack of It

To quote Donald Trump “FAKE NEWS” is everywhere. You don’t know where to look and what sources might be trustworthy. More news sites are using social media platforms to share breaking news as it’s quicker and launches an instant conversation than it would in comparison to just sharing it on a website. It also can spark panic quicker, for example, the lack of information which the public has been told about Coronavirus or shootings in America. People are quick to jump to conclusions because we are being told news without the real information. Just look at the number of death hoaxes we had before and after social media started. Do you want a lot of tabloid stories? Just look at newspapers on Twitter. 

Having instant news within your hand can have a lasting impact on your mental health as it may cause you unwanted anxiety when you see something that might spark a panic. This can also make you more anxious about leaving your house or going on holiday. Just look at the mass panic about diseases and terrorist attacks. 

It’s hard to know what is the truth and what isn’t in the modern world of instant news. 

Improving Your Mental Health

So with all this negativity in the world, how do we combat it when social media is getting us down in the dumps or too anxious to step into the outside world. 

Social Media Detox

Put that phone down and leave it alone. Ok, this is easier said than done. Many of us suffer unknowingly from “nomophobia” which is a fear of being without a phone. Have you tried putting your phone down for a few hours and not look at it? It’s hard, we’ll even admit it but by doing this you could do wonders for your mental health. 

Maybe book a weekend away with a friend/family and make a rule when you leave your accommodation, the phone stays behind. You don’t need it for a camera because you can be in the moment instead of behind the moment. (If you really need a camera, go old school and get a disposable camera)

If you’re finding social media too negative, you could consider deleting your social media apps for a short period of time and give yourself a detox from your accounts and the negativity. When you rejoin, have a think about how much you really missed it and whether you want to continue being a user of the site? You might surprise yourself. 

If you really need to keep your social media accounts. It might be time for a declutter. 

Walk it off

It’s been said before and we’ll say it one last time, go outside and take a deep breath. In today’s modern society we spend most of our time stuck inside staring at a computer screen or TV screen binging the latest series that Netflix has to offer. Now we’re not saying it’s a bad way to live but consider heading out for a lunchtime walk around the area or spending time with friends at the weekend hiking up a mountain (weather permitting). Fresh air does wonders for our mental health, so head outside and breathe it in, literally. 

Find some positivity

Now social media isn’t all negative. There are some wonderful joys out there and something catered for everyone’s passion. One of our favourite accounts is We Rate Dogs. It’s an account which is just full of cute dogs doing what dogs do. What’s not to love (unless you don’t like dogs).

 

Also consider following brands who are fun and inventive such @InnocentDrinks, @AviationGin, Tasty and even @twitter. These accounts are fun for all and don’t take themselves too seriously. Even though they are marketing products to and you don’t realise because you’ll find yourself enjoying the tweets for what they are. 

Remove those news sites we were on about and make your feed something you really enjoy. I mean who doesn’t love looking at cute animals and delicious food? 

 

It’s always important to remember that you’re not alone even when you feel like you are. If you are going through a hard time contact Mind (0300 123 3393) or the Samaritans (116 123). 

 

motorpoint case study ppc

Paid Media Case Study – Motorpoint

Motorpoint is one of the UK’s leading independent car supermarkets. They typically stock over 5,000 nearly new cars, spanning over 30 trusted manufacturers. Motorpoint has fantastic coverage across the UK, championing 13 dealerships from Glasgow to Chingford.

When we partnered up with their marketing team, we reviewed the account and worked together to determine what improvements and opportunities were available to move the account forward.

 

Objectives

> Reduce brand search spend

> Reduce CPC

> Improve tracking

> Increase footfall

> Improve location targeting

> Localised branch strategies

> Be more stock focused

At the start of 2019, Motorpoint came to Limelight with various objectives to improve their paid media activity. 

One of the main issues that we noticed with the account was that a large percentage of the campaigns were targeting a UK wide audience. This was causing inconsistency with spend allocation and some dealership locations were either getting too much or too little of a share of the overall budget. This also meant that there was money being spent in areas located far away from any dealership. Our work started by reducing all national activity and creating a set of campaigns for every branch and allocating a more even split of the budget.

 

Brand Search 

After analysing the position of Motorpoint’s brand search, we identified a few areas for concern in which we found some opportunities to improve the campaign performance:

  • Budgets were too high.
  • Campaigns were missing ad extensions.
  • Ad copy relevance was poor.
  • Location targeting needed to be refocused.
  • Manual bidding to be switched to automated bidding.

 

Results: (2018 Vs. 2019)

> Spend dropped by 79% YoY

> CPC dropped 86% YoY

> Clicks were down 6%

> Cost per Store Visits dropped by 81% YoY

> Cost per Phone Call dropped by 73% YoY 

> Cost per Enquiry Form dropped by 90% YoY

 

Generic Search

We swapped out the national approach to become more tactical with our strategy by localisation and narrowing our focus into the areas surrounding the dealerships. The account became pretty complex after this, multiplying our campaign count by thirteen. However, this allowed us to improve the Paid Search process in the following ways:

> Greater control over dealership budgets

> Increased inventory focus efficiencies

> Branch level strategies

> Branch level reporting

> Branch level footfall data

 

Expanded Text Ads

This is the standard Ad format recommended for Search. It utilises 3 x Headlines and 2 x  Descriptions. Google recommends 2 x variations of this Ad Type to be included in every Ad Group.

 

Responsive Search Ads

Google recommends having at least one Responsive Search Ad in every ad group. We’ve worked hard to ensure we have these live across the account. You can add up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions. The Ad will automatically show different combinations and optimize to show what works the best.

 

Gallery Ads 

We were lucky enough to be granted early access to this new Ad Type. The Gallery Ad allows up to 6 images and slots in below a normal text ad. We’ve seen some really strong Click-Through-Rate & low Cost-Per-Clicks from these ads.

 

Results: (2018 Vs 2019)

  • CPC increased by 22% YoY
  • Store Visits increased  by 32% YoY
  • Calls were up by 9% YoY
  • Contact form enquiries up 204% YoY

 

Display & Remarketing

After reviewing the Display activity that was in place, we identified the following areas of opportunity in order to improve the account:

  • New remarketing lists to be created and applied to campaigns.
  • Utilise Google’s Automotive In Market Audience lists and apply to campaigns.
  • Smart campaigns to be rolled out.
  • Location targeting to be refocused.
  • Improvement on banners, messaging & localisation.
  • Manual bidding to be changed over to automated bidding.

 

Results: (2018 Vs. 2019)

> Spend was reduced by 18% YoY

> CPC dropped by 53% YoY

> Impressions increased by 10% YoY

> Google Ads clicks increased 74% YoY

 

Store Visits 

Motorpoint is fortunate enough to have the availability of Store Visit data. For companies that have physical stores and are registered on Google My Business, if you link GMB with Google Ads so that we have visibility of what Campaigns, Ad Groups & Keywords are driving footfall. Once an ad is clicked, Google Ads then uses GPS to track a user and report if they visit a dealership. 

The national targeting structure that was being utilised when we took on the account made it difficult to see which branches were getting the Store Visits. By splitting the structure into a set of campaigns for each individual branch, it became clearer to see the Store Visit data at branch level. By doing this, it also allowed us to refocus the targeting to areas within a certain distance of each dealership, which boosted Footfall performance. We saw significant YoY increases from March to September:

 

Inventory Focus 

With the nature of Motorpoint’s business, it’s quite important for the paid media to adapt and align with the inventory. Motorpoint sells cars from over 30 manufactures. This means that they often have over 200 models in stock at a given time. We’ve worked to put a system in place that allocates more budget to the models highest in stock in order to optimize our spend accordingly.

 

YouTube

From the off, we wanted to introduce a stronger, more comprehensive strategy for Motorpoint’s YouTube awareness activity. When we took on the account, they just had one national campaign in play. In the same way that we changed the Search activity, we split this out at branch level and localised the creatives. On the back of this, we saw a huge improvement on the influence YouTube had on Store Visits:

  • Spend increased by 485% YoY
  • Cost per view increased by 9% YoY
  • YouTube Store Visits increased by 4,617% YoY

 

Smart & Local Campaigns 

We were fortunate enough to be granted early access by Google to some new campaign types whilst they were still in beta. It would seem Google is steering businesses towards more automated activity. We’ve implemented these campaign types for Motorpoint and have seen some great results off the back of this.

 

Local Campaigns

Local campaigns are designed to use Google advertising to bring business to your shop front. Local campaigns streamline the process for you, making it easy to promote your shops across Google’s largest properties including the Google Search Network, Maps, YouTube and the Google Display Network. Just add a few lines of text, a bid, some assets and the rest is optimised to help your users find you.” – Google Ads

 

Google Ads Smart Campaigns

When you sign up for a Smart campaign, you’ll write an ad that describes your business. You’ll also describe your business’s product or service and set a budget. Your ad will automatically show to potential customers across Google Search, Google search partners, Google Maps and the Google Display Network.

Your Smart ad can appear when potential customers in your targeted geographic area search for phrases related to your business on Google or Google Maps. Your ad can also appear for people who are outside of your area, but who include terms related to your business as well as your business location in their searches.” – Google Ads

 

With new competitors coming into the market, offering services like online car buying and home delivery, it’s a challenging, yet exciting time for the Automotive industry.

For more information on how we can help you with Paid Search Advertising or any other form of Digital Marketing please get in touch, or whilst you’re here, why not read more of our Case Studies

The Rise and Fall of Houseparty

Over the years, technology has grown leaps and bounds. It’s never been easier to connect with your friends and families during this uncertainty. Skype and Facetime are still popular, however social media is still growing providing new apps specifically designed for video chatting. Leading the way is ‘Houseparty’, a social media platform to connect anyone to their friends.

What is Houseparty?

Unlike its rivals, Houseparty has taken video chatting to a whole new level. Allowing users to simultaneously chat to up to 8 separate friends. Although this might sound chaotic, the app offers a party-like feel by using a split-screen feature, it divides the party into separate real-time boxes. 

When released the app promised excellent security features and allows you to choose who you want to talk to, accepting friend requests and user details. Ideal for their target market of teenagers whilst offering reassurance for parents. 

The Success of Houseparty

Whilst the whole world is on lockdown communicating digitally has never been more popular. Teenagers can no longer go out and meet their friends so they are finding their way to communicate with their friends using the technology in their hands. 

With the advantage of receiving notifications when your friends are online and available to talk. You can choose to enter the conversation when you want or stay out of it completely. It also allows users to play games with their friends enabling them to have more interaction than other online video chat software. 

With branded endorsements from Ellen DeGeneres and partnerships with mobile game Head’s Up, Houseparty has grown in success since it’s launch in 2019. 

Covid-19 has increased the number of downloads as countries around the world have placed their residents into lockdown so this has become a popular way of people connecting with each other. Google saw a spike around searches at the beginning of March when lockdowns started to take effect.

What Went Wrong?

With millions of users worldwide, keeping users’ identities and credentials safe should have been a high priority but only recently the app has come under scrutiny and rumours of a potential hack. The app has become a viral hit since countries have put residents on a lockdown which includes social distancing and self-isolation, but just recently terrified users are deleting their profiles and the app itself since receiving word of a potential intrusion. 

Large numbers of Twitter users are reporting that they’ve had their Spotify, PayPal and bank accounts hacked into since downloading the app.

Epic Games, who created Houseparty, have recently issued a $1 million (£766,000) bounty for the first person who can provide proof of the hack. Epic Games produce many well-known games including Borderlands, Red Dead Redemption and Assassin’s Creed so this is unwanted publicity for them.

Did They Get Hacked?

Although Houseparty users are claiming the hack is real there could be many different reasons which have no connection with the app. 

Cybercrime is on the rise especially as hackers are preying on confusion and interest in the coronavirus crisis. It could be possible that the Houseparty users have simply been caught out by another scam. 

Social media may also play a role in the mass hysteria here as well.

Many users are stating that friends of friends have been hacked which is usually a telltale sign of a hoax. This also helps the topic trend on Twitter which grabs more attention and eventually grabs the attention of the designers. The more people talk the more realistic the hack looks.

So should you delete the app?

Some users are now rushing to delete the app but it could be something as simple as changing to a stronger password and making sure you haven’t used the email you registered in connection with your other accounts. 

It’s important to remember that there has been a rise in the number of cybercrime activities directly linked to the increased traffic on social media platforms now that everyone is currently in isolation. 

It’s always important to stay safe online no matter what app you’re using. If you think one of your apps is in danger of being hacked then it might be time to change your password. 

The Best SEO Tools 2020

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The Best Live Chat Software In 2020

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The Simple Step-by-Step Guide to Startup SEO 2020

A no nonsense manual to help small business owners get started with Search Engine Optimisation.

The Ultimate List of UK Startup & Small Business Statistics for 2020

There’s no doubt that starting a business is one of the most daunting things you can do, not only in your professional career but in your life as a whole!

Most entrepreneurs will be giving up a steady, well paying job to roll the dice and start from scratch as the owner of their own, brand new business.

From huge decisions such as choosing your product or service, target audience and how to raise funds, to more frivolous choices such as which shade of blue your logo will be, there’s plenty to think about!

If you’re reading this article then you’ve probably already seen numerous startup failure rate statistics that so often get shared across national news sites and social media.

However, there’s a whole bunch of positive startup stats too which paint an altogether more rosy picture of becoming your own boss.

Statistics and analysis can also be a great way of understanding the current state of the UK startup scene and identifying potential pitfalls or areas of opportunity.

It’s for all these reasons that we’ve produced this ultimate list of startup statistics for you to cast your eye over and gain insight from.

 

Reasons for Starting Up 

In this section we take a look at the most common reasons that UK entrepreneurs start their own business, what inspires them to do so as well as what holds people back.

  • 64% of UK workers wants to set up a business (SME Loans, 2019)
  • 83% of 18-24 year olds have ambitions of self-employment (SME Loans, 2019)
  • More males (69%) have ambitions to start up than women (56.4%) (SME Loans, 2019)
  • Over ⅓ of the UK workforce don’t enjoy their job (SME Loans, 2019)
  • The age group most driven by financial gain are 18-24 year olds (SME Loans, 2019)
  • 1 in 3  UK workers want flexible working hours and have the option to work from home (SME Loans, 2019)
  • 43% of aspiring entrepreneurs don’t think they will ever set up their company (SME Loans, 2019)
  • ¼ of aspiring UK entrepreneurs are put off by ‘fear of stress’ (SME Loans, 2019)
  • ⅓ of aspiring UK entrepreneurs would like to set up business with their husband or wife
  • Only 13% of UK workers would choose their best friend as a business partner
  • 39% of young entrepreneurs saw lack of access to funding as a major barrier to growth (Institute of Directors, 2016)

 

“⅓ of aspiring UK entrepreneurs would like to set up business with their husband or wife”

 

Startup Failure Stats 

Startup failure statistics are the most shared startup stats online. Take a look at some of the damning startup failure statistics below which shows just how hard it can be going alone.

  • Fewer than half of UK Startups make it beyond 5 years (GOV.UK, 2019)
  • 60 % of new businesses will go-under within three years (Telegraph, 2019)
  • 20% of new businesses will close their doors within just 12 months (Telegraph, 2019)

 

“20% of new businesses will close their doors within just 12 months”

 

Startup Success Stats 

Don’t believe all the negative headlines. There’s more than enough small business success stats to reveal that UK businesses are still thriving.

  • 1 company is formed every minute in the UK (GOV.UK, 2019)
  • 89% of UK startups survive their first year (ONS, 2019)
  • There were 5.8 million small businesses at the start of 2019, up from 5.7 million in 2018 (despite Brexit concerns) and up from 5.5 million in 2017. (GOV.UK, 2019)
  • The number of small businesses in the UK has increased every year since the year 2000 and is expected to do so throughout the ‘20’s’. (GOV.UK, 2019)

 

“1 company is formed every minute in the UK”

 

Startup Funding Stats 

Startup funding or ‘capital’ is the money required to get a new company on its feet and turn an idea into a business. Startup funding can come from a variety of avenues such as personal savings, friends & family, loans, crowd funding and more.

  • 2017 was a record high year for UK startup funding (Beauhurst, 2019)
  • The total invested in UK startup companies dropped 15pc from £8.27 billion to £7 billion in 2018 amid Brexit fears (Beauhurst, 2019)
  • 82% of Startups used Self Funding to start their business (Institute of Directors, 2016)
  • 56% of Startups use self funding as their only source (Institute of Directors, 2016)
  • 74% of startups used just one source of funding to start their business (Institute of Directors, 2016)

 

“74% of startups used just one source of funding to start their business”

 

Startup Stats By Sector 

Startup statistics differ greatly by sector and it’s important to seek out industry specific figures when making predictions or forecasts. 

  • 99.9% of all private sector businesses in the UK are SMEs (GOV.UK, 2019)
  • 69% of service based businesses have a startup budget below £5,000 (Institute of Directors, 2016)
  • 67% of creative businesses have a startup budget below £5,000 (Institute of Directors, 2016)
  • 75% of recruitment companies have a startup budget over £10,000 (Institute of Directors, 2016)
  • 75% of finance businesses have a startup budget over £10,000 (Institute of Directors, 2016)

 

“99.9% of all private sector businesses in the UK are SMEs”

 

Startup Stats By Location 

Startup stats that focus on location tell a very interesting story about the current state of funding, entrepreneurship and wealth across different areas of the UK. As you’d expect, London is the home of the startup but is that changing?

  • London is above the national average for businesses, 1,563 businesses for every 10,000 adult residents (GOV.UK, 2019)
  • In the UK, there are 1,059 businesses per 10,000 residents (GOV.UK, 2019)
  • London (1.1 million) and the South East (940,000) had the most private sector businesses, accounting for 35% of the UK business population (GOV.UK, 2019)
  • The North East had the lowest private sector businesses of any English region with just 152,000 (GOV.UK, 2019)
  • One in three businesses are in London or the South East. (GOV.UK, 2019)

 

“One in three businesses are in London or the South East”

 

Owner Profile 

What does the standard small business owner in the UK look like and how does this differ to the rest of the world? Startup owner profile stats can highlight notable trends on age, race, gender, education and more.

  • The majority of UK entrepreneurs are in their 40’s (Startups)
  • Only 14% of UK SMEs are woman-led (Startups)
  • Just 11% of Startup owners have no educational qualifications (Startups)
  • Only 8% of UK small business employers are MEG-led; that is led by a member of a minority ethnic group (Startups)
  • Small businesses in London are more likely to be minority ethnic group-led, at 22%, compared to 8% overall. (Startups)
  • Over 95% of small business owners don’t have a basic understanding of how search engines work (Institute of Directors, 2016)

 

“Over 95% of small business owners don’t have a basic understanding of how search engines work”

 

Sources

Guide To Google Analytics Attribution Modelling

If you have a high average path length or are running campaigns at the top end of the marketing funnel (social media, display, PR) then you should be lookinat attribution closely and assessing the impact it is having on your results and therefore your decisions.

Finding Your Social Media Voice

When it comes to social media there are so many ideas and techniques out there to help your brand perform better. From post formatting to frequency and timing, there seems to be a lot of technicalities to social media marketing today.

Amongst all of these techniques it is important not to forget the main purpose of social media; to connect and engage with your customers. This is what makes your social media voice so important. In this post, we will explore how to establish an effective voice for your brand, and how you can use this to improve your social media strategy and increase engagement.

Think of your brand as if it were a person:

Don’t you hate it when you phone a call centre and you’re greeted by a lengthy automated voice message? Or those irritating automated marketing calls? People like talking to other people, not computers or robots, and this rule also applies when it comes to social media. Giving your brand an identity will make your audience feel more comfortable, meaning they are more likely to interact.

In order to humanize your brand, you can begin by asking yourself some questions about the kind of person it would be. The more detailed your brand persona is the better, but below are some questions to get you started:

  • What kind of personality would they have? (Try choosing your 3 most important personality traits)
  • What tone of voice would they use? (E.g. Friendly, authoritative, funny, casual, serious etc.)
  • What kind of relationship would they have with your audience? (E.g. Friend, coach, an inspiration/someone to aspire to, colleague etc.)
  • Who would be your brand’s celebrity mascot/s? (This is a good way of further visualizing the persona of your brand and how you would like to be perceived)

Once you have developed a clear persona for your brand you should visualize this character in all of your social media posts. If it doesn’t fit the character, then don’t make the post!

Give people a reason to follow your brand:

People are constantly being marketed to, but they certainly don’t use social media just to look at ads. Competition is fierce, so you need to give consumers a reason to follow or like your page. Many businesses make the mistake of being overly promotional on social media, with profiles that look something like this:

Example of an overly-promotional twitter feed.

Looking from an audience member’s perspective, would you really be interested in following a brand that constantly made posts like this? Probably not, right?  Of course, it is fine to post some promotional content; just make sure it is relevant, not too sales-heavy, and most importantly is of interest to your audience.  One brand that does this particularly well is Innocent. Their light-hearted and humorous tone is projected in all of their posts, even promotional:

Screenshot of the Innocent Drinks Twitter feed.

In an interview with Social Bro, Joe McEwan, Head of Digital at Innocent was asked about how they promote their brand on social media:

We can use reactive content to drive awareness of our products. The challenge is always to find interesting, creative ways to talk about our products. The more interesting our product posts are, the more people will engage with them and the further they will travel.

Your audience wants to feel like they matter, so be polite and make sure you respond to any interactions. Competitions are another great way of giving value to your audience whilst boosting engagement and expanding your social media presence.

Put yourself in your audience’s shoes:

You should already be aware of your business’s target audience and their interests, so the next step is to cater your social media content towards these interests. Make the most of analytics tools to see which posts your audience responds best to and tailor your future posts around this data.

Remember that social media is all about conversation, so give your audience something to talk about. Ask questions and encourage interactions – just one person talking positively about your brand can reach a multitude of potential new customers.

When posting content on social media your brand identity and consumer profiles should always be at the forefront of your mind. We’ve  put together this flow chart as a guide for your  posts:

social media post map

Concluding thoughts:

Your social media voice may seem trivial at first, but getting it right truly can make such a difference for your brand.  Having a consistent and authentic voice allows your audience to really connect with your brand; they should almost feel like they know your brand as a person and will, therefore, be able to interact with you in that way. Engagement is key when it comes to social media success, so having an audience base that is willing to interact with your brand is invaluable.

Remember that building a recognisable social media presence will take time; so be patient, keep things consistent, let your personality shine through, and you’ll soon start seeing the rewards.

If you would like any further advice around finding your social media voice, or anything else related to social media management then please get in touch and we’d be happy to help.

The Ultimate Analytics Referral Spam List

Google Analytics is the most used tracking tool in the world. It’s used on almost half of the top 1,000,000 websites (as currently ranked by Alexa).

As a Digital Marketer or webmaster, it can be incredibly frustrating to open your Google Analytics reports and see huge increases in traffic to your site only to have to put the champagne on ice after you’ve dug a little deeper.

Realising that a load of the new referral traffic you have been receiving has come from spambots and not, in fact, genuine sites linking to you is both heartbreaking and incredibly frustrating!

WHAT IS REFERRAL SPAM/ REFERRER SPAM/ GHOST REFERRALS?

Referral spam is the fake referral traffic that you get from ‘bots’ that crawl your website and perform a variety of repetitive tasks for a multitude of malicious reasons.

Not all bots out there are bad, take Google’s very own ‘Googlebot’ for example. Googlebot crawls the web to index websites and pages so they can accurately present them in their search engine results pages (SERPs).

block referral spam

Google’s Googlebot is good. It even has flowers.

However, you are going to want to stop the not-so-friendly bots from crawling your site and appearing in your Analytics data.

Not sure which ones I mean? Well I’ll come onto how you can spot the spammy sites that you need to block soon, but as a starter for 10, if you recognise any of these then I have bad news for you:

  • semalt.com
  • buttons-for-website.com
  • darodar.com

But do not fear, the majority of websites today are receiving referral spam on a regular basis and it’s a trend that has increased rapidly over the last couple of years. In fact, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller, has admitted that Google know all about referral spam but have yet figured out a working solution!

WHY IS REFERRAL SPAM DANGEROUS?

The initial frustration you may have with referral spam is that it skews your, otherwise mostly reliable, Google Analytics data making any conclusions you take from the tracking software redundant.

Metrics based on sessions such as bounce rate and conversion rate will be hit and gleaning any valuable information becomes tricky. Although some of the less complex bots that crawl your site won’t affect your GA stats, they can still negatively impact on site performance.

WHY DO PEOPLE PROGRAM REFERRAL SPAMBOTS TO DO THESE THINGS!?

I know right. Where has the humanity gone? Well, there are a variety of reasons they do it, and here’s just a few:

  • Boosting traffic stats – Advertisers will pay more money to sites that have a large number of regular visitors. These crawler programs can falsely inflate these numbers.
  • Click fraud – when a person or program clicks a PPC ad with the sole attention of wasting the advertiser’s budget rather than purchasing the advertised product or service.
  • Harvesting emails – to then sell on to 3rd parties for bulk email campaigns.
  • Scraping web content – to repurpose or feign as their own content.
  • Spreading viruses – many of the sites that appear in your reports are loaded with malware and when you unwittingly visit them your device will get infected.
  • Lead generation – unbelievably, some companies do it for lead generation although why anyone would purchase from such an unethical business is beyond me!

 

HELP ME! HOW CAN I STOP REFERRAL SPAM?

Well, as I mentioned earlier, there is no definitive solution to referral spam but there are effective workarounds. Whilst Google themselves tell you to use the ‘Referral Exclusion List’ to block the spam, this is not the ideal technique; and here’s why:

Using the Referral Exclusion List to attempt to block spammy websites coming up as referrals in your Google Analytics reports is dangerous as it merely records the traffic as direct rather than excluding it completely.

What we and many other reputable sources recommend is using ‘custom filters’. Here’s how:

1. Head over to Google Analytics and sort your ‘Referral Traffic’ by ‘Bounce Rate’. It’s fairly safe to assume that any site that has 0% or 100% bounce rate, with at least 15-20 sessions, is spam.

2. If you’re unsure then check it against our ‘Ultimate Referral List’ at the bottom of this page.

3. Can’t find it in our list? consider searching the site in a search engine to see what other people are saying about it. Remember to be incredibly cautious when choosing whether or not to visit the site as we already know that a lot of these sites are harmful.

4. Now you have your final list, block them with ‘custom filters’

spam referral list

When you’ve selected the account you desire, click the ‘Admin’ tab

domains spam referral

Select ‘All Filters’

ghost referral spam list

Click the big red ‘+ Add Filter’ button

spam referrers list

Enter the spammy URL’s as you see them entered in this example, select ‘All Website Data’ from the ‘Available Views’ box and click ‘Save’.

Bear in mind that there’s a 255 character limit for each filter so you will only manage to get 10 or so spam domains in each one. Although it can be time-consuming to keep adding to your
filters, this currently the best fix and is definitely worth doing.

Enjoy.

The Current 128 Domain Strong Referral Spam List

traffic2money.com
floating-share-buttons.com
get-free-social-traffic.com
site4.free-floating-buttons.com
4webmasters.org
site10.free-floating-buttons.com
free-social-buttons.com
site3.free-floating-buttons.com
www.event-tracking.com
success-seo.com
seo-platform.com
site2.free-floating-buttons.com
chinese-amezon.com
hongfanji.com
site8.free-floating-buttons.com
site9.free-floating-buttons.com
video–production.com
www.Get-Free-Traffic-Now.com
buttons-for-website.com
qualitymarketzone.com
site5.free-floating-buttons.co
videos-for-your-business.com
how-to-earn-quick-money.com
forum.topic63020490.darodar.com
7makemoneyonline.com
acads.net
anal-acrobats.hol.es
anticrawler.org
best-seo-offer.com
best-seo-solution.com
bestwebsitesawards.comblackhatworth.com
brakehawk.com
buttons-for-your-website.com
buy-cheap-online.info
darodar.com
econom.co
event-tracking.com
forum20.smailik.org
forum69.info
free-share-buttons.com
googlsucks.com
guardlink.org
hulfingtonpost.com
humanorightswatch.org
ilovevitaly.com
iminent.com
kabbalah-red-bracelets.com
kambasoft.com
makemoneyonline.com
masterseek.com
o-o-6-o-o.com
ok.ru
pornhub-forum.ga
pornhub-forum.uni.me
priceg.com
ranksonic.info
ranksonic.org
rapidgator-porn.ga
savetubevideo.com
semalt.com
sexyteens.hol.es
simple-share-buttons.com
social-buttons.com
theguardlan.com
webmaster-traffic.com
youporn-forum.ga
youporn-forum.uni.me
ilovevitaly.co
myftpupload.com
iskalko.ru
ilovevitaly.ru
o-o-8-o-o.ru
o-o-6-o-o.ru
cenoval.ru
cenokos.ru
seoexperimenty.ru
gobongo.info
vodkoved.ru
adcash.com
websocial.me
cityadspix.com
luxup.ru
ykecwqlixx.ru
superiends.org
slftsdybbg.ru
edakgfvwql.ru
socialseet.ru
screentoolkit.com
blackhatworth.com
prlog.ru
bestwebsitesawards.com
forum.smailik.org
aliexpress.com
Get-Free-Traffic-Now.com
semalt.semalt.com
iloveitaly.ro
prodvigator.ua
resellerclub.com
adviceforum.info
europages.com.ru
lomb.co
lumb.co
54.186.60.77
srecorder.com
see-your-website-here.com
76brighton.co.uk
paparazzistudios.com.au
powitania.pl
sharebutton.net
tasteidea.com
descargar-musica-gratis.net
torontoplumbinggroup.com
100dollars-seo.com
semaltmedia.com
rankings-analytics.com
free-floating-buttons.com
rednise.com
erot.co
generalporn.org
trafficmonetize.org
trafficmonetizer.org
domination.ml
torture.ml
depositfiles-porn.ga
pornhubforum.yk
pops.foundation
justprofit.xyz
best-seo-software.xyz