If you are not comfortable coding or configuring your htaccess file, you can block spam referers with plugins. If you are comfortable working in your htaccess file we wrote about how to do that here. These plugins will crawler spam referers, not ghost spam referers. That needs to be done in your Google analytics.
As a quick review, referer spam is when a robot arrives at your website pretending to be arriving from an external site. That external site is often malicious. So your applications like Google Analytics will log that the malicious site sent you traffic and put the name of that site in your logs. Robots from these spam referers never “view” your site, they only crawl it. This skews your analytic data, increases your bounce rates (they almost always have a 100 percent bounce rate) that hurts your page ranking, and can overwhelm your server.
Block Spam Referers with Plugins
Spam Referrer Block is as simple as it gets. Just add the plugin and activate it – your all done. This plugin uses a blacklist to filter your incoming traffic and block “spam referrer” attacks. The “Blacklist” consists of a plain JSON file that called by the server. They update the list fairly often as users send them new spam referers to include. It’s free and it pretty much removed all the spam on the few sites we tested on.
Wordfence offers both a free and a premium security plugin. Both are extremely powerful. if you have a referer spam problem you can set up a pattern in advanced blocking to simply stop the rogue crawlers that are spamming you in their tracks. Wordfence works differently than SpamReferrerBlock. It doesn’t have a built in “Blacklist” of spam referrers. Instead you can input spam referers that you find in your google analytics one at a time. You can either add them by their IP address, a range of IP addresses, or by their URL. Once they are added to you list Wordfence then adds them to your htaccess file. If you are not comfortable with coding this is a great way to continually block new spam referers and they appear in your analytics. I tested the free version on a few sites and was really easy to use and worked great!
iThemes Security, like Wordfence offers both a free and premium plugin. At this time it doesn’t offer a specific area to add know spam referers or add at current “Blacklist” like SpamReferrerBlock. However, you can add either by IP address, IP address range or URL to the Banned Users list. Once you’ve done that it adds them into your sites htaccess file with all the other banned users. Although they are not identified as spam referers it has the same net effect. All the banned users are blocked and never gain access to you site with their malicious bots.
In general for the typical WordPress user that doesn’t have a coding background any of these plugins are easy to use, effective, and will clean up the analytics for your site.