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Specific referrals being treated as direct traffic

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Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 1
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

We publish healthcare journals, and a major traffic source for us is Pubmed, an indexing service of the US govt. Our platform provider sends Pubmed metadata for our content, including URL, which Pubmed uses to provide direct links from its site to ours.

 

Traffic to our site from Pubmed appears in GA as a referral from ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, but since last Wednesday this traffic has dropped off a cliff. At the same time, direct traffic to our site has surged, suggesting that GA is no longer recognising the referral as such.

Screen Shot 2016-10-06 at 16.30.23.png

Link URLs from Pubmed appear to have the following parameters appended (I'm trying to find out if this is a new thing):

 

?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori:rid:crossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub%3dpubmed

 

Plenty of pages with this suffix are visible in the realtime reports, but other reports don't record them.

 

Does GA simply not recognise this as a referral? And can I use an advanced filter to write this traffic back into referrals?

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Accepted by topic author Tom P
October 2016

Specific referrals being treated as direct traffic

Top Contributor
# 2
Top Contributor

Hi :-)
Is your website http or https?
Ive noticed the ncbi.nlm.nih.gov is https which by default will not pass referral information to a non https website.
Maybe they have only recently changed to https?

Will they allow you to add GA utm campaign tagging parameters the the urls?

 

Bronwyn Vourtis, Google Analytics Top Contributor
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View solution in original post

Marked as Best Answer.
Solution
Accepted by topic author Tom P
October 2016

Specific referrals being treated as direct traffic

Top Contributor
# 2
Top Contributor

Hi :-)
Is your website http or https?
Ive noticed the ncbi.nlm.nih.gov is https which by default will not pass referral information to a non https website.
Maybe they have only recently changed to https?

Will they allow you to add GA utm campaign tagging parameters the the urls?

 

Bronwyn Vourtis, Google Analytics Top Contributor
Was my response helpful? If yes, please mark it as the ‘Best Answer.’ Learn how here

Specific referrals being treated as direct traffic

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 3
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Hi

 

Yes! I just heard that pubmed changed to https on 30 September, so that accounts for the pattern I'm seeing. We won't be able to add campaign tracking parameters to our pubmed urls, but I'll speak to our developers to see what we can do with our site.