What is Semalt and How do I Block it? Part One

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If you regularly track your traffic and stats in Google Analytics you may have noticed an alarming trend of late. The concern I am talking about is traffic coming from referring websites. There should be a natural balance of referral traffic from sites such as YouTube, Facebook and from sites related to your industry. The problem we are noticing is an unusual amount of referral traffic coming from a website called Semalt and its subdomains.

What is Semalt?  

Semalt claims to be a professional webmaster analytics tool designed to help you gain a competitive edge if you hire them for their services. Unfortunately their methodology is unrefined, fishy and it has raised a lot of ‘red flags’ within Google, WordPress and with countless others. Their efforts may actually be sincere, but in my opinion, ‘where there’s smoke there’s fire’.

Semalt wouldn’t be so alarming if their traffic was just from one site and if they visited once in a blue moon, but they have created literally thousands of subdomains that visit your site every day and skew your stats, which in turn affects your rankings.

How do I block or remove Semalt?

Before I show you several ways to block unwanted web crawlers such as Semalts from accessing your site and ruining your stats, I want to let you know why it’s so important to block them.

Google’s algorithm is extremely complex and the vast majority of SEOers agree there are several factors in how well a website ranks. The three I will talk about are Bounce Rate and Average Session Duration and Pages per Session – all of which are negatively affected by Semalt.

Bounce Rate – This is the percentage of visitors to your website that navigate away without viewing another page. The higher the number the worse you are doing. A bounce rate under 50% means your website is relevant to what people are searching.

Average Session Duration – The longer a user stays on your site the more your site is viewed by Google as having quality content. It likely means a person has read several articles about your company or product.

Pages per Session – The more pages a person views every time they visit your site the better and is clear indicator that your website has quality content.

The issue with Semalt is their web crawler(s) visits your site and instantly leaves which makes the bounce rate 100%, the average session duration at 0 seconds and it leaves the pages per session at just 1 (see image). When Google uses this data to determine if your website is relevant, it thinks that your site ranks poorly in all of these factors and will subsequently decrease your rankings.

Does Google or Yahoo have a Crawler?

Absolutely they do! Google and Yahoo probably visit your website more than anyone else. It crawls around collecting code and keywords and uses that data to determine what your website is about and if it is working properly. The big difference is when Google or Yahoo crawls your site it never leaves a trace or any evidence that it has been there. Semalt on the other hand has its impression everywhere and skews stats.

Why should I block Semalt if it affects everyone else?

If you want to be proactive and do everything possible to improve your websites ranking then blocking Semalt is one way that will help! If you’re the only company in your industry that is blocking them and have much better stats than everyone else, you will naturally rank higher!

In my next post I will show you exactly how to block this crawler from accessing your site. If you would like to take care of this problem right away then please contact us today!