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February 4, 2015

Darodar and 'ilovevitaly' link referral scheme

I found 35 referral links with a 100% bounce rate the other day in one of my Google Analytics properties.

Why not to worry about Darodar referral links to your site



I was worried so I did some digging. I found out that the referral link was “forum.topic58231229.darodar.com” and I had no idea who this site was that seemed to be sending my site traffic. The first thing I did was click the link to find out. Mistake #1. Luckily it’s not a costly mistake, but it’s one you shouldn’t do if you see a “darodar” or “ilovevitaly” string in your referral links traffic report.

This scheme is a nuisance more than anything for your analytics and optimization efforts.

  • The link has no effect on your website, there isn’t anything to be fearful of
  • There is currently no way to stop this referral spam from happening
  • Some suggest changing your .htaccess file on your site, but this won’t do anything since the bad guy never visits your site

What does this mean for you?
So why is this happening and what does it mean? The best you can do is understand this, so I’ll explain briefly.

This bad person is collecting Google Analytics Tracking IDs or trying IDs sequentially. He uses your ID to ping Google Analytics directly without ever visiting your website, and sends Google Analytics a specially crafted URL for the referral.

This shows up on your report and since you’re the optimizer your are, you click the link to see who gave you an external link. If you like me, you’re praying to the SEO gods that somehow this link will give you link juice on steroids and make your site rank #1 on any SERP ever delivered. Did I write that out loud? I digress… ;)

Back to the clicking part. This is right where the bad person wants you. You click and go to the some affiliate site this bad person has joined. Something like Amazon, Aliabab, or Aliexpress. You get redirected to a shopping page most likely, and any purchases you might make (odds are you won’t) this bad person gets a cut.

He/she isn’t trying to hurt your site. They are trying to make themselves money. The head-banging part for those of us hit by this spam is we have this referral traffic showing up in our data that we have to deal with. We need that like we need a 200 pounds weights strapped to our ankles. Even a small number like 35 visits in one day at a 100% bounce rate has a big impact on the data for this property.

You could set up a custom filter to exclude this spam from future data collection, though it might not be worthwhile because of all the variables you’d have to account for. It’s probably more hassle than just knowing the percentage of traffic that is spam and accounting for that in your analysis.

As G.I. Joe said, knowing is half the battle.