Currently spammers are using international symbols to create domain names that look like fully TRUSTED websites like Google.com & Lifehacker.com, but take you to their spam sites.
What’s the trick? They’re using a Latin letter small capital (like ɢ), which looks like a regular capital G, but is smaller — in fact the same size as the lower case o that appears right next to it (2nd letter in ɢoogle). So unless you’re fully aware & trying to find it, you’ll miss the subtle difference & possibly click on the link taking you to a spam site. Not the end of the world, but it’s something we all need to be aware of moving forward.
The most popular version of this right now might be turning up right in your trusted Google Analytics account. It shows a nice looking spike in traffic, and when you view the language of origin for that traffic, it looks like you’re getting some special offer from Google to visit their subdomain that somehow ties into this increase in traffic: Secret.ɢoogle.com.
And there it is. Did you see it? Maybe you did since the point of all this is to get you to look for it. That would be a REAL link taking you to a REAL website that is definitely not the REAL Google! Have a look at the screenshot above taken directly from Analytics.
Talk about a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing…it looks like Google is offering you a promotion, it’s appearing in it’s own reporting tool, and it’s possibly sponsored by a major US political party!
Or how about this one. Don’t ever click on Lifehacᴋer.com when you’re really wanting Lifehacker.com. Look closely at the k…it’s not a regular k and it takes you to a different website. And for now, all these guys are getting away with it. So you have to be on the lookout.
If you see a link or URL that is offering something that sounds unusual or enticing, look closely. It might be a trick.
Set Up a Spam Filter in Analytics
And if you’d like to adjust your Google Analytics to keep this out of your traffic reports, follow these instructions. (Please note these spam tactics & the filtering techniques change constantly and you might need assistance setting it up or maintaining it).
-Log in to your Analytics account.
-Click on ADMIN (at the top)
-First create an TEST VIEW (so easy! This is just creating this new filtered view so that you’ll always have your raw, unfiltered view to fall back on in case you ever experience any problems with filters you add.)
-Under the “View” column on the right, click the little drop down arrow & select Create New View.
-Name it Test View 1 (or “New Filtered View” or whatever you like).
-Then select it (so you’re looking at Test View 1 instead of your original default name.)
-FILTERS (just below)
-Create New Filter
(whatever you choose, maybe Spam Filter 2016)
-Filter Type: Custom
-Exclude: Language Settings
-Filter Pattern: \.
-Save it. And that’s pretty much it for now. From what I understand this isn’t a complete reporting fix, but it will help filter this type of empty traffic that could skew your website traffic statistics and entice you to click on a dodgy link. Apparently it will start working soon after and then reflect the filtered results in the next 24 hours.
Stay on top of your game! Use your Google Analytics and any other digital marketing tools at your disposal. But realise the bad guys are good at what they do and typically like to disguise themselves as something trustworthy…even perhaps the biggest name on the internet.
If you’d like help with this or any digital marketing services, give us a call. We’re based in Melbourne Australia, but can serve interstate and international clients as well.