I was checking the analytics on a client site and saw a referral from a website I did not recognise. And so I investigated it.
After typing in the reach-publisheral website address manually (I always do this in a new browser window), an automatic redirect came into effect and I ended up on Pingl.net [no, don’t follow that link please].
Black Hat SEO tactics
In the SEO world there are goodies and baddies…. and it’s a game of tension between the unscrupulous on one side and those who follow search engine websites’ guidelines on the other – refereed by Google and Bing.
Black Hat is the term given to tactics that are underhand and try to cheat the system.
White Hat is the opposite – those who work within the framework set by search engines.
Updates to search engine algorithms are usually driven by their desire to undermine black hat tactics.
After a quick search I found several other commentators had found referrals in their analytics also coming from Pingl. This rings alarm bells.
Who is Pingl?
A set of clever Black-Hatters masquerading as authentic “growth hacking” tacticians.
They use a technique called notification referrer service which is basically a spam referral to your website. By masking their site identity they make the link “appear” to come from another site – reach-publishinglo in my case (but others report variants on Ali Baba). This domain is setup with the sole purpose of sending you to pingl’s home page – it refers you directly to them.
Although you may be getting a lot of referrals from the masked page, it is not real traffic, and it can ruin your SEO – notably your bounce rate.
How to overcome referrer spam
Create filters in your Analytics to remove this traffic from your results in two ways
- Campaign Source Filter – will stop all traffic from the source (pingl) site
- Campaign Referral Path Filter – will stop single web pages
- Languages Setting Filter – stops traffic from named languages (was useful for Russian spam in 2017)