Semalt.com – What it is and How to Stop it Skewing your Stats

May 1, 2014

in Digital

Post image for Semalt.com – What it is and How to Stop it Skewing your Stats

What is Semalt.com?

I recently noticed referral traffic from a domain known as “Semalt.com” inside many of my Google Analytics accounts. After some research I discovered that the site appears to be some sort of rank tracker that gets its data by crawling websites. Unfortunately, the crawler is set up in such a way that it skews Google Analytics data inflating figures, increasing bounce rates and whatnot. This obviously = bad.

Why is this happening?

Having never used or even heard of the service before, I figure they’re either attempting to crawl the entire internet (good luck) or someone’s added some of my sites in their own accounts as a competitor. Whatever the case, it’s really annoying to have skewed data. Typically this type of software works more intelligently and thereforeĀ doesn’tĀ skew data – not the case with this one.

The Solution

There are a few ways to eliminate the domain from your crawling your website and therefore preventing skew of your data. Here are the easiest to implement:

  1. Add an “Exclude” filter in Google Analytics.
  2. Block the “semalt.com” referrer in your .htaccess file.

Both are relatively simple solutions however if you haven’t had much experience with server configurations, it’s probably best you go the Google Analytics route.

Exclude semalt.com as a referrer in Google Analytics

Screenshot of excluding the semalt.com domain referrer in Google Analytics.

Exclude semalt.com in GA

  1. Go to Admin > Filters > + New Filter
  2. Name the filter “Exclude semalt.com”
  3. Select “Custom” as the filter type
  4. Select “Exclude”
  5. Select “Referral” as the filter field
  6. Enter “semalt.com” as the filter pattern
  7. Add the filter to the selected view and hit save.

Block semalt.com in your .htaccess file

Add the below code to the .htaccess file located in the root directory of your website. If you’re not experienced in this area I strongly suggest you refer to the Google Analytics method above.

[sourcecode language=”plain”]
RewriteEngine on
# Options +FollowSymlinks
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} semalt\.com [NC]
RewriteRule .* – [F]
[/sourcecode]

Unfortunately there is no way to “undo” the damage that is done but using the above methods is a sure fire way to protect yourself from this dodgy crawler in the future.


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