How To Stop Guardlink & Other Referrer Spam

  • Referrer Spam in Google Analytics From Guardlink showing how this type of spam can increase bounce rate in Google Analytics (although this bot traffic does not actually visit the site).

Referrer Spam in Google Analytics From Guardlink showing how this type of spam can increase bounce rate in Google Analytics (although this bot traffic does not actually visit the site).So today I woke up, checked my Google Analytics data, and saw a surge in traffic that was coming from a site called “Guardlink”. Now, I’ve never heard of this site, so naturally I was excited because I thought that I was receiving even more traffic to my most popular security article titled, “How Someone Could View Private Facebook Photos In 2015“, that is until I checked my Adsense data. Now, you may have assumed that my Adsense ads were click bombed, but when I checked my Adsense statistics, I realised that my Adsense statistics were… normal.

Note: If you want to skip ahead to the guide on how to stop Guardlink & other referrer spam, then scroll down to the next section.

“Huh? But what’s wrong with your Adsense data being normal”? Well, let me tell you why that’s problem. You see, whenever I receive traffic to this website, the data is collected in both Google Analytics and Google Adsense. If Google Analytics shows that there was a surge in traffic, but the number of impressions that my ads received were the same as they usually are, then this could mean 1 of 2 things:

  1. All of the new visitors from the referral site are using Adblock (unlikely).
  2. Referrer spam (highly likely).

So after realising that I was receiving referrer spam, I checked the traffic that was coming to my site from Guardlink and noticed that it redirected to a pornography website. Since I was only receiving bot traffic that never actually went to my site and only showed up in my Google Analytics Account, I was able to rule out a negative SEO attack and determine that this was ghost referrer spam. However, because my Google Analytics data was ruined today, I figured that I would  create a guide on how to filter out this Guardlink Referrer traffic so that you can view your real Google Analytics data.

How To Stop Guardlink & Other Referrer Spam: Filter Method

The easiest way to filter out Guardlink referrer traffic & other spammed referrer traffic sources, simply follow the instructions below:

1. Log Into Your Google Analytics Account

Google Analytics Login Screen

2. Go To Your “Admin” Tab

Google Analytics Admin Tab

3. Click On “Filters” Under The “View” Section

Google Analytics Filters

4. Click On “+New Filter”

Google Analytics Add New Filter

5. Enter The Information Shown In The Image Below And Click “Save”

Google Analytics Filter Information
If the image is not available, then enter guardlink.org as the filter name, select “custom” as the filter type, select “campaign source” as the filter field, enter guardlink.org as the filter pattern, and click save.

How To Stop Guardlink & Other Referrer Spam: Htaccess Method

I haven’t tried this method out myself since the filter method worked for me, but you can add this code to your .htaccess file to prevent Guardlink from registering itself on your site as a referrer:

## SITE REFERRER BANNING
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} guardlink.org [NC,OR]
RewriteRule .* – [F]

How To Stop Guardlink & Other Referrer Spam: Deflecting Method

Again, I’ve never tried this method, but you can create a text file called “deflector.map” and add the following code to it:

#
## deflector.map
##
##referer –> redirect target
http://guardlink.org http://guardlink.org

After that, you’re going to want to add the following code to your .htaccess

RewriteMap deflector txt:/path/to/deflector.map
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !=””
RewriteCond ${deflector:%{HTTP_REFERER}} =-
RewriteRule ^ %{HTTP_REFERER} [R,L]

Why Does Guardlink Referrer Spam Occur?

There are a couple of reasons why this type of referrer spam occurs. The first reason is because the spammer can gain free backlinks from sites that publish their access logs. The second reason referrer spam occurs is because the site owner wants their websites’ URL to show up in your Google Analytics account on the off-chance that you’ll visit their site.

Alistair Kavalt
Follow me

Alistair Kavalt

Founder at Sycosure
Alistair Kavalt takes a no-nonsense approach to life both online and offline. He's the founder of Sycosure, an online marketing company based in La Quinta, California that aims to provide small businesses with the resources they need to improve and protect their online search presence. To learn more about Alistair, visit his author page.
Alistair Kavalt
Follow me

Latest posts by Alistair Kavalt (see all)