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STRYDE | Stop, Block, & Ban Referrer Spam 2

Stop, Block, & Ban Referrer Spam

By | SEO | 2 Comments

Over the last few months, we’ve noticed referral traffic spike to many of our sites hosted on WordPress. Awesome right?

Well, not after looking at good old Google Analytics:

referrer spam view in google analytics

What is Referrer Spam?

Referrer spam is a feebly devised tactic to increase traffic to a certain domain. The aim, according to Raven Tools, is to make that domain appear in your analytics (as shown above) so you’ll visit the site. In the screenshot above, you can see how an individual could easily click one of those sites.

Why is Referrer Spam a Problem?

First off, referrer spam creates a problem when it comes to validity of data. These ‘visitors’ alter key statistics you need to analyze to improve your site. The total volume of sessions and visitors is obviously misrepresented. But not only that, but demographic, geographic, and device data is impacted.

How Do I Block Referrer Spam?

There are a multitude of ways you can tackle the beast that is referrer spam. Let’s take a look from around the web at what experts have suggested:

Option 1: Google Analytics Filters

Tom Capper of Distilled outlines a great option that doesn’t involve access to the backend of the site, just access to the analytics. While it doesn’t stop the traffic that has already arrived, it does remove it from your view.

Georgi Georgiev of Analytics Toolkit also advocates for filters within analytics, and details a comprehensive approach to applying multiple retroactive filters.

Option 2: WordPress Plugins

In the WordPress Plugin Directory, there are a few options to aid in filtering incoming traffic. SpamReferrerBlock and the Semalt Referrer Blocker are two of the most prominent options.

Option 3: .htaccess File

Adding several lines of code to your .htaccess file will create a virtual barrier between your site and those spamsters. This option is typically regarded as the most invasive and it does require upkeep, but it’s the most effective option to eradicate referral spam.

We’ve provided a CSV below that includes the code we used to stop our referral spam across our sites. You can simply use the list or customize it to include only the referrer sites that are impacting your site:

Click the link to download the CSV: Referrer Spam Ban .htaccess file

You’ll also need to customize the line of code that precedes the list of spam sites:

RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !.*YOURSITEHERE\.com/.*$ [NC]

In terms of bringing out the “big guns,” adjusting your .htaccess file tops the list. But, that also means that it’s serious stuff for you site. Ensure that your file is immaculate! Even one character out of place could take down your whole site.

For example, omitting that line of code with your site name as detailed above, will cause sporadic 403 errors across all pages of your site. Bottom line, make sure you feel comfortable with code before implementing this option!

Option 4: Any Combination of the Above Methods

If you’re especially concerned about referrer spam, you can combine any or all of the methods above to create layers of protection.

Does a Long-Term Fix Exist?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. While Google is aware of the referrer spam problem, no long-term solution exists beyond an overhaul of how Google Analytics tracks visitors. So, we are left to work with what we have at our disposal.

Don’t let referrer spam make a mess of your analytics. Stop, block, and ban it before it even hits your site. What’s your favorite method to stop spam traffic? Share it with us in the comments!

STRYDE | 10 Must Have Tools For Content Marketers

10 Must Have Tools For Content Marketers

By | Content Marketing | One Comment

Do you consider yourself a content marketer? If you answered yes, then you better live and breathe content every day.

The marketing mindset continues to develop and change over time, and one of those more recent changes is its focus being on content. Content marketing is all the rage, and I’m not just saying that because it’s what we do. Several other marketers agree with us, with 90% of marketers using content marketing and 72% creating more content than they were a year ago.

While the stats prove marketers find content marketing an extremely important part of their overall marketing strategy, only 34% of marketers think they’re effective with their content marketing efforts. That number is way too low.

So what can we as marketers do to get that percentage up? First, we need to have confidence in our abilities and ourselves. Next, we need to have a plan in place. And lastly, we need to be using the right content marketing tools to create and get our voices and our brand’s content and storytelling out there!

This isn’t a comprehensive list (or a list ordered by importance), but it’s a list of must-have content marketing tools to help you start becoming and feeling more effective with your content marketing efforts.

  1. WordPress

WordPress is great web software used to create blogs and websites. It first started as just a blogging system but has since grown into a content management system. It allows you to create your own custom theme, add plugins, publish your content (words, images, videos), control comments made on your blog and so much more. WordPress must be an awesome tool since more than 60 million people use it, including us.

  1. Curata

With Curata, you get a tool that does a number of useful things for you. The most common way it’s used is as a content curation tool, where you can easily discover, arrange and share content that’s relevant to your brand and audience to better position yourself as a thought leader within your industry, among other things. Curata is also a good content collaboration and organization tool.

  1. Steptap

Steptap is a relatively new platform for businesses and marketers to leverage for their content initiatives. A Steptap is created to teach your prospects and your customers how to create something, build something, do something, or fix something. With a premium account (which we highly recommend) you can even get some pretty decent SEO value out of your efforts and drive traffic and sales.

  1. Visual.ly

We all know visual content grabs and keeps a reader’s attention, and with visual.ly you can create all kinds of captivating visuals for your audience. Aesthetically pleasing infographics, videos, presentations, engaging web experiences and micro-content are what you can expect from this content marketing tool. 

  1. Qzzr

Virtual quizzes are on the rise. Why? To put it simply — because quizzes are all about the person taking them. Plus they’re fun and engaging. Qzzr, another tool we use, lets you create these types of quizzes for your site or blog, and its design includes social sharing buttons so quiz takers can immediately share their results with their friends and followers, which usually leads to more people taking your quiz.

  1. SlideShare

Keeping with the visual theme we have going here, SlideShare is a tool used for uploading and sharing interesting, informative slide presentations. It also provides insight into who sees your presentations.

  1. Hootsuite 

Hootsuite is going to be a lifesaver for anyone involved with social media accounts for your brand and/or your clients (just ask our social gal). Through Hootsuite you’re able to manage several social media accounts, schedule messages and tweets to be sent out through each account, track any brand mentions and examine social media traffic.

  1. Buzzstream

Buzzstream is a content promotion tool, under the earned media category. It gives you a multitude of services to assist you with link building. Through this platform you can find influencers within your niche that might be willing to share your content, while also organizing and monitoring your outreach efforts.

  1. Outbrain

Another tool worthy of having is Outbrain. This tool falls under paid media. It’s a content discovery tool that exposes and recommends your content to people reading other quality publishers. Outbrain also offers readers a more personalized reader experience.

  1. Google Analytics

Last but not least on this list is a way to track your site analytics. We’ve found that Google Analytics is a useful monitoring tool because with it we can measure conversion rates, evaluate the impact social media and mobile have on our site’s traffic and customize reports for our company and our clients.

What content marketing tools do you currently use that you couldn’t live without? Tell us what works for you in the comments below!

My Christmas Wishlist: 10 Business Tools I Want & Need

By | Tools | No Comments

santa-rudolph

Since Christmas is just over two weeks away, I thought it would be super fun to put together a blog post talking about the ten business tools (that cost money) that I want for Christmas. These are tools designed to take a business to the next level, whether they help with website functionality, your marketing efforts, or just general business tasks. They aren’t in any particular order, so let’s dive into my list:

Gravity Forms

Gravity forms is a stellar WordPress plugin that helps a website owner set up and customize their online forms. I’ve used this plugin before when marketing for other sites, so I know it is extremely powerful. Another awesome feature is its ability to post data to other services that you use like MailChimp, AWebber, PayPal, or Authorize.net. There are three price points, $39 for personal use, $99 for business use, and $199 for a developers license. You can purchase Gravity Forms here.

Backup Buddy

Backup Buddy is another awesome WordPress plugin that allows you to backup and restore your website in just a few clicks. They also have an amazing migration assistant that makes moving your domain to a new web host or to a new domain a snap. Backup Buddy also has three price points, $75 for personal use, $100 for business use, and $150 for a developers license. You can purchase Backup Buddy here.

Yoast Video SEO For WordPress

If you are in SEO, you know who Yoast is and know that he makes amazing plugins for online marketers. This year, he released his much anticipated Video SEO plugin that assists users with video optimization and helps them rank well in the search engines. This plugin is MONEY and costs just $89!!! You can purchase the Yoast Video SEO For WordPress plugin here.

Securi

Securi is a web monitoring and malware clean up service. They are the perfect service to use when your website has been hacked or infused with malware. In addition to that, they monitor and scan your website frequently for security threats and alerts you when they find anything. They have three plans $89.99 per year for one website, $189.99 for up to five websites, and $289.99 for up to ten websites. You can purchase Securi here.

HubSpot

HubSpot is an all-in-one inbound marketing software for enterprise businesses. The platform helps with SEO, Social Media, Content Marketing, Building Landing Pages, and helps with Email Marketing. HubSpot has three pricing packages for business, $200 per month for a basic setup, $600 per month for a professional setup, and $1,000 per month for an enterprise setup. You can purchase HubSpot here.

Pardot

Pardot is a marketing automation system that helps business of all sizes simplify their marketing efforts and generate a higher ROI from prospects and current customers. Their platform helps with lead nurturing, landing page build out, CRM integration, and has robust reporting. They too have three packages, $1,000 per month for a professional package, $2,000 per month for an enterprise package, and $3,000 per month for an ultimate package. You can purchase Pardot here.

Ahrefs

We’ve used Moz, we’ve used Raven, we’ve used Majestic, but there’s a newer tool on the market that we’ve tested and want a full subscription to, Ahrefs. Ahrefs is a link analysis tool to analyze your backlink portfolio and also the portfolios of your competitors. The insights they provide are far superior to other tools and we highly suggest checking them out. They have three different plans, a professional plan for $79 per month, an elite plan for $179 per month, and an enterprise for $499 per month. You can purchase Ahrefs here.

Animoto

Animoto is a pretty slick service that is used to create stunning videos that interact with your potential customers. Their service allows you to take photos, video clips, and music and create videos with very little “video creation” or “video editing” know how. They too have three plans, a free version, a plus version for $2.50 per month, and a pro version for $20.75 per month. You can purchase Animoto here.

ContractPal

ContractPal is a service that allows you to eliminate the traditional paperwork that any business engages in. This can include sales contracts and statements of work, all the way to down to employment agreements sent to new employees. They they not only make everything paperless, they also store all your documents securely online, so you always have access to them in one simple dashboard. They have different pricing structures based on the volume you do, so give them a call and discuss with them your needs.

iPhone 5

Alright, the last thing on my wishlist doesn’t need much of an explanation. I want a new iPhone! I run the majority of my business from my iPhone and would love a bigger screen and 4G speeds. You can purchase a new iPhone5 here.

That’s my list… what do you want for Christmas? Please feel free to share in the comments section below!