Block Referrer Spam in WordPress

You might be too familiar with the referrer URL to sometimes underestimate it. In fact, using referrer URLs is one of the strategic ways to boost your website SEO if you can place them in higher authority sites. However, with more than 500,000 websites created daily, the number of spam sites accounts for a significant part. That’s why you should be strict about deciding which referrer URLs can be displayed on your website.

To better understand what the referrer URL is and how it affects your website SEO and security, let us walk you through this article for more information.

What Are Referrer URLs?

The referrer URLs are the hypertext links that will direct a unique user to a certain destination website. You probably see them in almost all blog articles. When giving users a more detailed definition for a particular technical term, you often link that phrase to a more reliable or authority site. For example:

“On top of block referrer spam in your WordPress, you should consider using passwords to protect pages, posts, or custom post types powerfully.”

Some, on the other hand, apply those referrer URLs to get traffic to their site or lead users to their landing page to increase revenue. This is when the loophole of using and allowing referrer URLs on your website gets out of control.

What is referrer spam?

It would be wonderful if your website gets noticed and others try to link back to your articles. However, realizing this desire of website owners, spammers then use fake referrer URLs linked to other websites that they want to advertise rather than the original one. By employing this method, they don’t need to provide valuable content to users but still rank their sites’ domain authority up easily. Whilst, your website accidentally becomes an unwanted medium “introducing” poor quality sites to users.

Why Do You Need to Stop Referrer Spams?

The worst thing arises once Google realizes you are linking to spam websites. Consequently, the ranking of your website in which you put a lot of effort to build will soon decrease. Not only do you benefit nothing from referrer spams, but also worsen your website’s image.

The thing is, google analytics report every activity happens on your website, and unavoidably, those referrer spams will ruin your site’s reliability. If one day you want to sell your website or be a partnership with others, the list of spam links in the report will leave a bad impression on your partners.

How to Block Referrer Spam

The most effective way to stop referrer spam appearing on your website is to use plugins. These plugins will monitor referrer spam websites and put them in the blacklist forever.

You might find several options in the WordPress repository, but this Bad Behavior plugin has the highest number of active installations. Being in the market for years, it’s been helping thousands of sites from large to small such as SourceForge, or the U.S Department of Education reduce incoming link spam and malicious activity.

After installing and activating the plugin, head to the plugin’s settings to configure some options.

The function to display the statistics of recently blocked requests is off by default. Some businesses might enable this as a marketing strategy to increase the reliability of their websites. Meanwhile, larger websites should be careful when turning on this feature because of database intensive.

In the Logging section, the three options will affect your site performance differently. Normal HTTP is on by default meaning it’s the safest and most suitable option for your site. Of course, in some situations, you’d like to change to the other two. Turning Verbose logging on means all HTTP requires to be logged before being on your website. The reason this function is off by default is that it slows down the site performance significantly and non-suspicious sites have to be logged leading to inconvenience.

The same with Security, in case your site is in danger due to spam bots. If not, leaving them unticked wouldn’t harm your site either.

How to Generate the Good Referrer URLs in Your WordPress Site

Technically, referrer URLs are very useful when you utilize them properly. In this situation, we can suggest a brilliant way to take advantage of them.

At this moment, it would be seriously risky if your website doesn’t have any protection plugin to shield your valuable content. To make sure all the files you’ve been uploading on the WordPress Media Library doesn’t leak out freely on the Internet, Prevent Direct Access Gold proves outstanding.

Relating to referrer URLs, the plugin also provides a helpful feature to help you protect all file types on your website. At the same time, it allows you to grant access to protected files based on referrer links.

After downloading and activating the plugin, navigate to Prevent Direct Access Gold settings in your WordPress admin dashboard.

Under the Folder Protection tab, you’ll see the Allow Referrer Links section. This is where you can set up which folders containing protected files that certain user roles can access.

You can select the important folders that have valuable files on your website to protect them along with its accessibility.

The Set File Access Permission drop-down will list all possible user roles for you to pick. These roles can access the secured folder and its files when clicking the referrer links.

When displaying those referrer links on your website, only logged-in users or selected users are able to click on and sent to the original files. Non-members instead, will be redirected to the 404 page.

Block the Harmful and Leave the Good Ones on Your Website Only

In both SEO and protection perspectives, the referrer links play a necessary part if you know how to make use of them effectively. 

The websites you spend time and money to build up shouldn’t be ruined by those spammers. Installing a block referrer spam plugin to your WordPress is highly recommended. These plugins not only stop spam bots embedded poor website links to your article but also prevent possible malicious activities.

What’s more, taking advantage of the convenience of referrer links, Prevent Direct Access Gold provides the Allow Referrer Links to protect your files and grant particular users access to those files and folders. Refreshing your website with the above plugins will bring more benefits than you could expect.