Thursday, February 10, 2011

Strange Refferer URLs

I had a website die on me.  Oh, the domain name was fine.  I just had the server crash without a backup.  So, there has been no content for two or more years.  But the web site still gets thousands of "hits" each month.  Even after being down for years.

I brought my site back up recently and took a look at my web logs and found hundreds of pages being access, with 404 errors, every day.  All of them were links referred from another site.  Many of the site names made it obvious they were trying to sell something.  This is what is called referrer spam.

It seems that many years ago web statistic programs like Webalizer created pages saying who your top referring sites were, and made these lists active html links back to the referring site.  Someone then wrote and sold a program that allows you to fraudulently "drop links" into the logs giving you a backlink to your site.

Of course once this behavior was recognized, the Webalizer software to create the web stats was modified to prevent this - they just took out the link and made it plain text.  But years later of the links not being on site - even years later of my site being down, the referrer spam people are still plugging away at my site.

It does nothing for them, but it destroys any chance I have of having meaningful statistics from my stats program.  Thousands of page views and literally zero actual real people looking at a page.

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