Home » Cybersecurity » How to stop adf.ly referral traffic in Google Analytics
adf.ly referral traffic

How to stop adf.ly referral traffic in Google Analytics

If you notice an unusual amount of adf.ly referral traffic in your Google Analytics data you’re not alone. Adf.ly is a URL shortener service that is often used to by third-parties to spam your Google Analytics data with ghost traffic that never actually hits your website. This is a blackhat SEO tactic known as referrer spam or referrer spam indexing. Adf.ly referrer spam is designed to target your website’s analytical data with phantom web traffic in order to get you to visit the URL. The traffic can arrive from different URLs on the domain such as adf.ly/1SDmxr. This referral traffic is caused by a third-party abusing the adf.ly system and is not orchestrated entity behind the adf.ly website.

adf.ly google analytics

Adf.ly or another party utilizing the URL shortener service engages in the referrer spamming tactic in order to promote online content. The way referrer spam works is that you will notice and increase in adf.ly referral traffic mixed into your Google Analytics data which may provoke you to visit the URL or search for it online. It should be noted that referrer spam is a blackhat SEO tactic and websites that engage in this tactic are always desperate and likely untrustworthy. The spammers disregard your website’s data in order to promote their content. We do not recommend the services provided by adf.ly and their affiliates.

Adf.ly referrer spam is a problem for many webmasters and website owners. Adf.ly referral traffic can ruin your website’s analytical data with phantom traffic that never actually lands on your website, but instead targets your Google Analytics ID. For example, the URL usually makes it look like it landed on a single webpage on your website and left from the same webpage which can mess up your bounce rate. This is not the only Google Analytics data that adf.ly referral spam can ruin. It can essentially junk-up everything reported in the Audience, Acquisition, and Behavior sections with useless data.

Luckily, we have created a guide to block and stop adf.ly referral spam in Google Analytics by creating an exclude filter that targets the Campaign Source. This will stop adf.ly referrals from ruining your data measured by Google Analytics.

Quick Links

Associated URLs

  • adf.ly/1SDmxr (/?from=http://adf.ly/1SDmxr)
  • adf.ly/5703174

What is Adf.ly?

Adf.ly is a URL shortener service that a third-party can use to spam your Google Analytics data with ghost traffic. Adf.ly spam does not actually land on your website. This type of referrer spam targets your Google Analytics ID. If you have a website with missing tracking code it is still possible to receive adf.ly referral traffic.

adf.ly referral traffic

The downside to unwanted www.adf.ly referral traffic for website owners is that it can mess up the appropriate Google Analytics data and other website metrics provided by third-party services. In some cases referrer spam can also use up your website’s bandwidth by creating repeated site requests. However, this is not the case with this URL since it primarily generates ghost hits that do not actually land on your website.

Spammers target the referral traffic of your website for several reasons:

  • Referrer spammers want to promote a website and want you to visit the webpage or search for it online through Google search engine results pages.
  • Referrer spammers want to boost their rank on Google search engine results pages by creating backlinks. They do this by logging requests into your website’s access log, which is then crawled by Google’s indexing bots and seen as a backlink to the spam site.

Adf.ly referrer spam is not entirely dangerous to your website. It will most likely not cause any trouble with how your website is accessed by your visitors or ranked by Google. However, in some cases referrer spam may use up your website’s bandwidth and CPU by creating multiple site requests to your website. In other cases, the spam URL is served to your analytical data by traffic bots which create ghost hits and never actually land on your website, which happens to be the case with this URL.

Stop Adf.ly with an exclude filter in Google Analytics

This guide shows you how to stop adf.ly referral traffic in Google Analytics by creating an exclude filter to block adf.ly referrer spam. You should also consider enabling the exclude all hits from known bots and spiders feature.

1. Open your Google Analytics account and go to the Admin tab and click All Filters.

2. Click the ADD FILTER button to create a new exclude filter.

3. Add Adf.ly or something you can remember as the Filter Name.

4. Select the Custom Filter Type.

5. In the Filter Field find and select Campaign Source in the drop-down list.

6. In the Filter Pattern text box add adf.ly and click the blue Save button on the bottom of the webpage. To add multiple address you can make a Filter Pattern like this: example.com | example.com | adf.ly

Sean Doyle

Sean is a tech author and engineer with over 20 years of experience in cybersecurity, privacy, malware, Google Analytics, online marketing, and other topics. He is featured in several publications.

More Reading

Post navigation


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

How to block ghostvisitor.com referrals in Google Analytics

How to block scripted.com referral traffic in Google Analytics

2 simple ways to block “floating-share-buttons.com” referral traffic