Don't worry, this post is rated PG, but I bet it caught your attention when the word "porn" appeared in the headline! And no, I didn't use it just to catch your attention - it does have relevance to the subject matter. It has to do with porn related websites showing up in your website statistics. I'm going to share a little trick the plethora of pornography website proprietors like to use to get you to visit their websites. This trick is referred to as "Referrer Stuffing."
For you to understand what Referrer Stuffing is and how it works, let's first start with a little background on website statistics and how they work. Most web hosting companies provide their customers with programs that provide website operators the ability to get statistics related to the visits they get to their websites. Those statistics provide information such as how many visitors are coming to your website, the pages they are viewing, which keyword terms they typed into search engines to find your website and the referring URLs or referrers that brought traffic to your website. The referring URLs or referrers are the web pages from where the visitor just came.
For example, when you click on a link inside a website and it takes you to another website, your computer will send the referring URL to that web server. This is a great way to see which websites are linking back to yours and can be helpful in tracking where the traffic to your website is originating. If you're curious, you might like to know how, why and where people are linking to your website. So what do you do? You visit the referrers that show up in your website statistics program and view what other websites are saying about you and how they are linking to your website. Should you visit the referrer and don't see any links back to your website, it could be because you were duped into visiting that website by Referrer Stuffing.
How Referrer Stuffing Works
These website proprietors, in an effort to increase visitation to their website, send out automated computer programs called robots that visit your website. These robots trick the web server into thinking that their visit was from a referral from the suspect web page in question. Therefore, the web server logs show that a visit came to your website and was referred by, what appears many times to be a porn site. Then, when you look at your statistics you notice that you are getting a bunch of traffic from these referring web pages. Of course, you are curious to know why these web pages are sending you traffic and why they are linking to your website so you visit that web page. Low and behold, you've been duped as there are no links back to your website. You're left wondering what's going on, but it's too late as you fell into the trap of visiting their website. Then when you try to close the window, a bunch of other popups and pop-unders attack you trying to get you to visit a bunch of other garbage websites.
Since some web hosts don't lock down the website statistics information with a password, that information can be indexed by major search engines like Google. If someone stuffs their referring URL all over the place they can actually generate back links to themselves which further increases the traffic to their website. Password protecting your website statistics, which is standard with BannerView.com web hosting services, can prevent your website from being a conduit from which these Referrer Stuffers benefit.
Now it's not just porn websites that do this. Other types of sites use these tactics. It just so happens that porn related sites are the most prevalent users of this trick, but we've experienced that it's growing in popularity with financial scams and other get rich quick schemes. Unfortunately, there isn't much you can do to prevent this from happening, but you can start to see a pattern in your website statistics. And certainly, if the name of the web page throws up red flags, then there's no reason to visit that referrer.
It's amazing the amount of trouble people will go through to get an increase in traffic to their websites, but remember, reputable businesses don't need to use tricks and tactics to earn business.
|About the author
Mark Cenicola is the president and CEO of BannerView.com, developers of BannerOS, the software that helps companies turn their websites into powerful business tools. Mark is also the author of the book "The Banner Brand – Small Business Success Comes from a Banner Brand – Build it on a Budget." Read Mark's full biography. You can find him tweeting on Twitter and starring in videos for the company's YouTube channel.
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