Handling Referrer Spam

Reading time: 2 mins

Thankfully this is not an area I’ve had much experience in, so I’ve done a little Googling and come up with some interesting ideas and ways to handle referrer spam.

Firstly it helps to know if you are being hit hard by it, and for that you’ll need access to server logs or a basic statistics package for your website. If you start seeing odd names in your referrer logs and your bandwidth usage starts to skyrocket then read on.

Rather than waffle on at length I’ll quickly point you to a couple of articles, one short one “why are they doing it and what should we do about them?” and a more indepth article that also includes some proposals for handling referrer spam.

There is one simple way to handle referrer spam, that’s to block access to your site for the domain name that is being used. A lot of referrer spam will use sub-domains so blocking the top-level domain name handles all the sub-domains as well. For example:
If you are receiving refferer spam from naughty.example.com, bad.example.com, spammers.example.com and so on, then blocking “example.com” from accessing your site should block those other referrers.

Obviously the people behind referrer spam are aware of this and so use .com, .us, .tv and anything else they can get their hands on. For this reason, manually adding and blocking referrer spam sites is laborious, time-consuming and ultimately a losing battle.

However if, like me, you are only experiencing a small amount of referrer spam then here’s an article that explains how to create an “.htaccess” file to block referrer spam (scroll down to the “How to do this” section).

WordPress users try Referrer Karma (now running on this site), or bad behavior, and then anyone can use WannaBrowser to test if they are working.

So, hopefully I’ll be referrer spam free(ish) from here on out, ohh and if anyone gets a message along the lines of “Please click on the following link if you are not redirected automatically (sorry for the inconvenience)” then let me know.