If there is a currency for the internet, then it should be Web Traffic. Traffic is the blood of any website or blog, without Traffic, there is no use of having a dead page on the internet. Not all traffic are good, there is also bad traffic, and fake traffic.
This post is about the Fake Traffic, what is it, how it could hurt your blog based on a real story started a couple of weeks ago, so please keep reading and pay a full attention, this might be happening to you, and you just don’t know it.
Have you ever thought about generating fake traffic to your blog?
I mean imagine if you could increase your page views and get more people to advertise on your blog, you fake it all by doing the little trick that is called fake traffic.
Read more to know why I actually published this post, there is an interesting thing going, and it’s really driving me crazy!
Let me first explain to you what is fake traffic in plain English.
What is Fake Traffic
Fake traffic is simply a simulation, it’s a black hat technique that allow you to generate traffic to your blog, but this traffic isn’t real! This means it’s generating by a bot or a software, no humans are involved, thus no conversion. The reason is to game the statistics, and show that you are getting a lot of traffic.
What’s the benefit of Fake Traffic?
In one word : Nothing!
It’s just fake! So you earn a few cents today, and lose everything tomorrow.
What happened to me is a good example that Fake Traffic is not good, it’s harmful! And, probably someone can use this technique to hurt someone else’s blog and business reputation. Keep reading to know more about the problem I am having on the blog!
The Clever Thief Never Get Caught
People always try to game the system, some of them may succeed, bit what I don’t understand is how someone promotes these ideas to others, how they could recommend Fake Traffic by saying that “Fake Traffic is really good“, and man I started to hate Fiverr.com, some people sell fake traffic in broad daylight, this really sucks!
Trust me, once you got caught by Google or your advertisers, there is no way back, you won’t be able to maintain your integrity, or get back the trust you’ve lost, no one will ever trust you or your business again!
So, don’t think you can get away with Fake Traffic!
I am getting Fake Traffic! (The problem)
The real problem, and the reason I am writing this post is that I am actually getting fake traffic to my blog!
Yes, someone hate me enough to spend her/his money on sending my blog fake traffic!
Below are a few screenshots of FamousBlogges’ stats that is generated by WordPress.com Stats via Jetpack plugin. These images presents the usual traffic average, and difference in traffic after the fake traffic hit!
As you can see in the screenshot above, FamousBloggers is getting a steady traffic. It has an average of 2500 visits a day or so.
I notice increase in traffic a couple of weeks ago. To be honest, I got excited, and I never thought it was a fake traffic! It was super cool to see traffic increase to an average of 5,000 visit per day, that’s a 100% increase. I’ve enjoyed this feeling for only one week before I discover the ugly truth about this traffic source.
On the 4th of Feb 2012, I got 15,000 visits to my blog, this wake me up from my lovely dream!
I just thought, this doesn’t make sense. So, I started to check my stats and monitor my blog traffic, and quickly realized it was just a fake traffic. How? Simply, because the “time on site” for all these visits wasn’t more than only 10 seconds, all of them are using IE browser, it comes from different IPs, and there is no referrers.
[box type="important"]I started to think that anyone could receive fake traffic, but because they don’t monitor the traffic sources seriously using services like Get Clicky, they won’t notice it’s actually fake![/box]
I spent the whole day thinking of why this is happening, why someone would pay for sending my blog fake traffic! So, I decided to study the case and discover the impact of this traffic on my blog.
The impact of Fake Traffic
I notice a huge change in all my stats that day, the worst thing is the change in bounce rate and time on site, the bounce rate increased to 90.56% which is really high, time on site was only 21 seconds, which is too low than my blog’s real visits average.
Another thing I notice is that all fake traffic landed on only 4 pages on the blog, three of my high ranked reviews posts and the main page of the blog. This made me think this attack is coming from a competitor who is trying to drop my reviews ranking by sending fake traffic to these specific review posts. The only thing I can think of is that maybe someone got pissed off after I release my Author hReview plugin that adds Google’s rich snippets for reviews and ratings.
I also notice that my Alexa’s rank is going higher, it’s now 7961 at the moment of writing this post.
I got contacted by BuySellAds the other day, they’ve enabled CPM ads model on my blog, I had to reply back and explain this traffic source, I’ve told them that I won’t be selling this traffic, simply because it’s fake and I am trying to find the best way to block it. BSA advised me to find any patterns in my Google Analytics account in this regard and try to block them.
You can take a look at FamousBlogger’s page on BSA and see the impressions estimate.
[box type="info"]Sending a fake 15.000 visit to a blog every day isn’t good, and isn’t funny, usually people don’t do it just for fun, this is a serious attack and require a quick respond![/box]
Why Would Someone Send My Blog Fake Traffic?
As I mention above, this could be a serious attack from one of my competitors, of course I wanted to know who is she/he is, but it’s almost impossible to know, so let’s don’t wast time on this and focus on solving the problem. I wanted first to know the reason behind it.
Why would someone send fake traffic to your blog, here is what I’ve found:
- Hijack your blog’s ranking.
- Hurt your blog stats.
- Disable your blog by exceed your hosting bandwidth quota.
- Disable your shared hosting account for extensive use of CPU resources.
- Get your Google AdSense account suspended (Read: Ad Traffic Quality Resource Center).
- Affect your business reputation and integrity.
- And, more…
As you can see, this is only examples, things I know and I think of. Probably fake traffic can hurt your blog in other ways. You never know how ranking services works, and how their algorithms rank your blog, so they might be considering fake traffic in a way of another.
Get Rid of Fake Traffic
As I mentioned above, all fake traffic comes from different IPs, so the only pattern I could see is all visits are using IE browser and has no referrers, which means there is no information about where they came from. So, at least I know I can block or redirect all IE visits, that’s something I can do, but what about the real people who are visiting my blog using IE browser?
Anyways, I’ve decided to go with this solution and just contain all IE visit and redirect it to an empty static page a way from my blog, so I can study this traffic more.
This helped me to get rid of fake traffic, but along with a few real human visits. At least I could control it till I find a better solution or get some advice from an expert. I decided to call Mohamed of BloggersNetwork.net and we had a little chat over phone about the best way to prevent this fake traffic. Mo is a network engineer and a security specialist, so I was sure he is the right person to get in touch with in regard to this issue.
So quickly, Mo responded to me and we did a nice plan to identify and contain the fake traffic by doing some sort of complicated process and checks, we wanted to make sure we get rid of the fake traffic “Only”, so now FamousBloggers is 100% free of fake traffic. Yay!
I am still getting 15,000 – 20,000 fake visits per day, but it doesn’t have any impact on the blog anymore.
I have no idea when this hit will end, but anyways, we are good to go now!
Update: Download the Fake Traffic Blaster plugin from wordpress.org.
Now, a few Questions for You
Do you monitor your traffic sources often?
Do you suspect that your blog is getting fake traffic?
What if there is a tool that help you check and get rid of fake traffic? Would you be interested in that?