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So, while we cannot stop them, and they do seem to be harmless, you can at the least regain control over what you see on your site and have the information at hand for business planning and decisions about your website.
Google lists improving your bounce rate as a powerful metric, according to the video produced by Google if we are good at direct marketing, the bounce rate will fall between 40 and 60%, and they list suggestions to help improve your bounce rate.
As their bot does not respond to robots.txt, does not behave like a regular crawler, and is ‘only’ skewing your stats the only real method to stop them is to filter or block their visits. While they advertise a removal tool on their website, it doesn’t work.
I have also recently had a discussion on twitter with @JustinCutroni, Analytics Evangelist at Google about what to do with a site that is skewing analytics globally, and he said that running a filter is the best option to accurately represent the data that is being collected.
If you are running a WordPress site, you can also mark them as a spam referrer.
Does the Semalt removal tool work?
For the most part, site owners are unaware of these robots as they do not show up in analytics or site data. Managers and owners of websites are also able to ask the bots to behave in certain ways through use of robots.txt, an internet standard in coding.
As you can see from the Google Analytics information below, this particular site had 50 visits in the one month from this crawler. At 1.66 visits per day, it’s definitely not random.
Normal robots can be asked to not access certain parts of a website through robots.txt, and even without a direction, they usually don’t show up in website analytics, and they especially don’t record multiple visits a day.
To give you a comparison snapshot, 6 months ago (before Semalt) the sitewide bounce rate was at 37.14% for the month, and is now at 46.77% for the month.
Since its launch in January this year, Semalt has made its way around the internet to every site, big or small, and leaving its impression in your analytics. In essence it is harmless, it’s not malicious, there’s no spyware (as far as we can tell) and while they claim they are not ‘hurting’ your site – which they probably aren’t, your data is now skewed.
Any SEO practitioner who uses Google Analytics regards a bounce rate as a measure of relevance and usefulness of a page to the user, the lower the bounce rate, the more useful the page is to the potential customer.
There are two methods that are currently being used to effectively stop seeing them in your stats, and having your data return to normal. While this cannot and does not stop them coming, at least your stats are now accurate.
We all understand that the internet has bots and crawlers, spiders that gather data for search engines and for search engine optimisation purposes. These are essentially tools that bring information back to analyse and make use of for online business plans.
For the website below I submitted it to their removal tool on June 6th, there was one ping on the 9th and nothing until the 16th… then it started again, I resubmitted it on the 17th and 20th. Finally I added a filter on the 18th of July. So far, so good.
Before doing the change to your analytics, I would recommend you setup a raw data view, along with a Master profile, so you have control over the insights the data is providing for you.
The Semalt crawler does not behave like a normal robot.
Update: There has been more and more information coming out about semalt and security issues. While we are not in a position of research on this level, it would be remiss to not let others now that there are greater concerns about other than just invading Analytics and skewing data. Please read the rest of the information below with this in mind.
Their crawler is not simulating real user behaviour. A real user comes to a site, spends some time and (usually) goes to more than one page. The Semalt crawler spends no time on the site, has 100% bounce rate (it exits immediately) and only goes to the one page.
The first of which is to analyse data… and this data is now skewed.
Have you any other methods that work or other information? Let us know below.
Why is 100% bounce rate bad?
Semalt’s auto SEO is claimed to be a ‘unique whitehat technology’ for website promotion on Google search engine . According to Semalt, the auto SEO service allows natural links placing on the niche-related web resources relevant to your website content. Links placed are integrated into ‘unique content’ which allows achieving perfect results. Semalt claims to have a base of more than 50,000 high-quality partner sites of various subjects. Sites are carefully selected according to domain age and Google Trust Rank.
On my part, I would never spam any website with my links, let alone know anything about .fr extensions.
And to be fair, it got better with each passing day. Semalt does make good on their promise to help rank your website immediately.
Website SEO promotion.
While Semalt claims that they send ‘an SEO specialist’ to analyze your site upon choosing and paying for a campaign, it seems they in fact, use some sort of bot or automated method in adding these backlinks. Of course, there is the possibility that the dashboard is only returning what it is being fed with to convince their clients that their campaign is paying off. But it is, isn’t it? The results are truly there on Google SERP. Or how best do we explain how Semalt adds 280 backlinks from 40 domains to a client’s website in 10 days?
Semalt also threatens Publishers who write ‘negative’ reviews about them. I have read on several blogs where publishers claimed they got threatened via emails to take down their experience-based reviews. Make no mistake, I’ll gladly publish their emails when I get them.
Semalt claims their AutoSEO strategy allows them to add 750 high-quality backlinks (25 backlinks per day) to your website every month. For the FullSEO campaign, the amount of added links is 100 backlinks per day. Semalt claims all of their backlinks are from selected, trusted partner websites that meet all SEO standard criteria.
How the backlinks are added doesn’t really worry us so long we are getting the desired result, right? Results are what matters the most when you as a client pay for a performance-based service and Semalt just about does that. However, we have our reservations about Semalt. We strongly recommend you should not use them for your SEO services. They are in business, no doubt but there are so many things about their operations, approach and customer services that tell a whole lot about their brand. It is not enough to just condemn them, is it? Below is why we advise you should never use Semalt.
Bot Hurt: Semalt defends its bots.
Here’s why we believe you should never use Semalt.
I had my fair share of experience with them recently. I signed up a cousin’s blog for a trial SEO. He is a greenhorn with SEO related issues and has no idea how it works. Towards the end of his campaign, he sent me a screenshot of an email from ‘his account manager’, asking that his trial period was almost over. Note that he never signed up on Semalt let alone used his email address on their website.
Somehow, we can confirm that Semalt’s auto SEO works wonders as we have used their platform on two various occasions and the result was phenomenal. The first month, which is often the trial month is billed at To be fair, ‘trust’ is a really big word, particularly on SEO issues. A cascade of mishaps and your blog or website is faulted or penalized, never to be found on Google’s SERP as envisaged. So, can a total stranger be trusted? Is it really wise to put all your hopes on an SEO company promising almost instant presence on Google’s search engine result pages with 15% visibility?.99, which is quite unbelievable. A screenshot of a running campaign as seen below shows an astronomical growth on Google’s SERP.
This is not about trying to ruin a business. Infosecurity published an article about how Semalt hijacked hundreds of thousands of PCs for massive BotNet in 2014. Well, that was a long time ago and Semalt claims that they have changed and are no longer in that business. Unfortunately, Semalt’s review on Trustpilot is a great eye-opener. You sure should take a look if you don’t find this convincing enough.
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How Semalt’s Auto SEO Works.
See it this way, Semalt is like a luxury place you can use so long you have the money. You have no access to enjoy the rights you and your website once did if you fail to pay afterward. I would advise you to look for good SEO companies who sell permanent backlinks and SEO services to take care of your SEO issues. Semalt is not just the place for you if you are looking for permanent backlinks to your website!
Above, you can see Semalt claims to have added 280 backlinks to our site and they are all referred by 40 domains. The chart on the right tells about the distribution of those backlinks and which Top-Level Domains (TLDs) take the larger share. Semalt seems to truly have many ‘partner’ websites. The entire backlinks (280) to the site were added in 10 days!
Successful ranking growth is expected between day 7 and 14. Great, yeah?
A day after, he sent WhatsApp screenshots of a Daniel Carter from Semalt, asking him to pay $99 for a month so as to ‘enjoy their auto SEO’. I signed up his blog for the service using my Semalt account and nowhere on his blog was his phone number or personal details made available. They found it somehow and reached out to him. Worse still was the fact that he was being harassed continuously.
Know this is Semalt’s when you see the below in your analytics: