Stop SPAM referrals from ruining your analytics

Every once in awhile you will notice a spike on your google Analytics and with it comes the great satisfaction of a job well done; don’t pop the cork yet! Review where those referrals are coming from.  More often than not you will find some names you don’t recognize; some common examples are and At first you will be inclined to ignore them.  “Who cares about a few unknown visits…”; wrong, these are SPAM referrals, and they do matter.  These visits can accumulate to a few hundred a month which could reach a few thousand a year.  If your website is receiving half a million visits then stop reading this, but if you are like any of my clients, a few hundred “fake visitors” can steer you in the wrong direction in terms of strategy.  If that is not reason enough for you, think of the security issues; yes, some are just fake visits paid for some very ill-informed individuals, but some may be ill-intended as well, leaving phishing code in your website or posting SPAM on your comments section. So, what should you do? Elementary my young Watson; block them.  How to block them is a whole different lesson to be taught, but here the basics.  A simple online search should give you the specifics. Some options: The best way to block referrers from accessing your site at all is to block them in your .htaccess file in the root directory of your domain. This method prevents spambots from hitting your server altogether. Keep in mind, that the .htaccess file controls how your server behaves, and an error here can escalate very quickly into the rest of your site. Another good option, [...]

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How to Avoid Getting Blacklisted

We have all heard of it. Getting blacklisted is the Boogie Man of Digital Marketing, with the only difference that this is completely real (based on my assumption that the boogie man is not!). But what exactly is this powerful force, how can we prevent it and what to do if you ignore all my advice, is to follow. What is it? Blacklisting is usually the result of bad email marketing, or 'spamming'. SPAM is basically any kind of unsolicited email. By sending email to only to those who have requested to receive it, you are following accepted permission-based email guidelines. In other words, SPAM is any non-consensual email communication from a company to a prospective customer. Certain online entities like police the quality of email marketing with certain rules, and breaking those rules is penalized with the blacklisting of you server. Most email marketing tools will also notify you somehow if you are in danger of getting blacklisted.   How to prevent it? Just like in most civilized societies, there is a set of rules that as long as you follow, you will stay out of trouble, email  marketing has a very simple and clear set of rules that will keep the Spam Police away. Here are the most important ones: You should always have consent from everyone in your targeted list.  Buying a list from a vendor and emailing them IS considered spam. Make sure you are not sending emails to group aliases in companies like: Be honest with your subject line.  You will find a lot hype on things like "Do not use the word 'free' in your subject line." While that is important advice to heed, the most important thing is to deliver [...]