How can you tell the quality of the traffic on your financial website?

After all, it can feel good to see high numbers of visitors in your Google Analytics reports. Yet if the traffic is largely irrelevant – or, worse, harmful – then these numbers are really just “vanity metrics”. They feel satisfying, but achieve few other concrete results.

In this post, our marketing team at CreativeAdviser will be sharing how to identify “spam” traffic on a financial website and what to do about it. We hope this content is useful to you. To discuss your own website with us, get in touch to arrange a free online consultation.


What is spam website traffic?

We all know what “spam” is when it comes to our email inboxes. It refers to unwanted messages – typically from people we do not know – which may contain an irrelevant, unhelpful or harmful message. Website spam, however, is a bit different.

A spam visitor may be a real human visitor or a “bot” (i.e. non-human visitor, such as a malicious computer programme). The traffic is not necessarily harmful, like a “phishing email”. Yet given sufficient volumes, spam traffic can weigh down your website performance and start to skew your Google Analytics reports – making it seem like you are getting more legitimate visitors than you actually are.

There are many reasons for spam traffic. One common reason is that spammers are trying to get more visitors to their own websites. Their hope is that, once a website owner notices a lot of spam traffic in their Google Analytics reports, they will investigate the “source” (i.e. the offending source website). From there, this website owner can put “cookies” on the visitor’s browser – or show ads to them.

In short, spammers typically send traffic to a website to try and get more traffic for themselves.


Is my recent traffic spike spam?

To determine whether your website traffic comprises heavily of spam within a given time period, there are four main metrics to look at in Google Analytics:

  • Average session duration.
  • Bounce rate.
  • Pages/session.
  • New users.

Most of these can be found by logging into Google Analytics and then going to Google Analytics > Audience > Overview.

As a general rule, if you see a sudden “spike” or “trough” in your metrics, then this is a sign of suspicious activity – possibly website spam.

Let’s take average session duration, first. This refers to the average time that a website visitor (user) spends on your website in a given “session” (typically defined as a 30-minute window).

As a general rule, spam traffic tends to have a very low average session duration. After all, the goal of spam traffic isn’t to consume your content like a normal website visitor. Rather, it is intended merely to catch the website owner’s attention.

Bounce rate refers to the percentage of website visitors who leave after only looking at one page. Generally, website traffic is regarded as more “engaged” if it visits multiple pages/posts on your website. Spam traffic, however, tends to have a high bounce rate.

You can get more information on this front by looking at pages per session. Generally speaking, engaged traffic likes to click around a website (e.g. reading related blog posts on a particular topic). However, if your Pages Per Session metric is plummeting with increased traffic, then this may be a sign of rising spam traffic.

Finally, new users can be a useful lens to analyse the traffic on your financial website. If you are seeing very high percentages of new users in a given period – e.g. 100% – then this could be a sign of spam. Take a look at historical comparisons in your reports, to be sure.


Take a look at referral traffic

Spam traffic is often “hidden” within your referral traffic reports. To find this, go to:

Google Analytics > Acquisition > All Traffic > Overview > Channels > Referral

Within this report, you can drill-down quite specifically to see which websites are driving traffic to your website. If the websites appear to be relevant and trustworthy, then that is usually a good sign. However, if there are lots of strange-looking websites on there, this could be a sign that you are receiving high levels of spam traffic.

Look for websites with low-quality domain names, or with low-quality suffixes to the address (e.g. .pw rather than .com or

You can also try checking your geography (or locations) reports to see which parts of the world your traffic is coming from.

For instance, if you are a locally-based financial planning business, then you likely want to see most of your website traffic coming from your local area. However, if lots of traffic is coming from overseas (e.g. India), then this could be a sign of spam.


What to do with spam traffic

Assuming you have identified some spam traffic in your Google Analytics reports, what can you actually do about it?

One option is to use Disavow spam backlinks in your Google Search Console account. However, this is more of a “nuclear option” and you should first be sure that the website sending traffic to yours is truly harmful, or spammy.

The less drastic option is simply to filter out any spam traffic that you have identified in your Google Analytics reports. This will help stop the traffic from skewing your reporting. This is fairly straightforward to do within the “Admin” settings of your account.

Simply find the tick box that reads “Exclude all hits from known bots and spiders”, and select it before hitting Save.


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