Separating The Wheat From The (Semalt) Chaff

search engine optimisation

Separating The Wheat From The (Semalt) Chaff

Using filters in Google Analytics

If your nicely sieved reports have recently been plagued, as ours have, by, I’m sure you’ll be feeling frustrated and angry. Maybe you hadn’t even noticed, in which case you’ll be disappointed that the traffic increases you’ve been enjoying are not legit. Either way, you’ll want to remove this interloper as soon as possible and get back to reporting nice unsullied data.

So what’s Semalt, and what’s the problem?
Semalt is a company that tracks a site’s position in search engines. To get this information it relies on sending a crawler to your site. Usually crawlers, spiders and bots are not included in Google Analytics traffic reports as they do not use Javascript, however the Semalt crawler is being recorded as referral traffic. This is a problem for the veracity of your reports (it looks like you’ve suddenly had a load more visits). So, how do we separate the wheat from this Semalt chaff? By filtering of course!
And if you’ve never used filters before, don’t worry here’s a step by step guide to removing the Semalt traffic. Note: this filter excludes but you could easily adapt it to filter other unwanted traffic such as internal employees.
Don’t risk your data – create a new View.

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The first thing you need to do is create a new View. This is important because once a filter has been applied to a View the data cannot be unfiltered. For this reason it is recommended that you keep one unfiltered View that contains all of your data.

Creating new Filters

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 Once you have created a View that you are happy to filter, click Filters in the Admin section of Google Analytics.

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Click to add a new filter.

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Configure the filter

Finally, tell Google what you want to keep and what you want to get rid of. In this case we want to filter out (exclude) anything with the referral path of /crawler.php – this is the Semalt crawler.

And that’s it. Your new View will report traffic minus Semalt so you can relax knowing you are reporting uninflated traffic.

Have you been affected by or do you have any questions? Please leave a comment below….


Steven Drummond

Web Analytics & Optimisation
"I love solving the technical & marketing challenges that help our customers win more customers."