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Learn to identify referral spam traffic, as well as best practices to reduce referral spam in your Google Analytics account
 
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Exclusion Referral List and Filter not Working?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 1
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Hello everyone,

 

I am running into an issue excluding inbound referral traffic from analytics. I am trying to exclude all data coming from some.domain.org:8443

 

The exclusions were set up before I arrived but apparently never worked. Every time I test the exclusion filter I get no change even though there are about 20 instances in the past 3 days alone that should be excluded with the new regex.

 

Any help would be greatly appeciated.

 

I have the following set up.

Filters:

type custom exclude

filter pattern: some\.domain\.org.*

 

Referral Exclusion list
some.domain.org.*

1 Expert replyverified_user
1 ACCEPTED SOLUTION

Accepted Solutions
Marked as Best Answer.
Solution
Accepted by topic author Blake F
February 2016

Re: Exclusion Referral List and Filter not Working?

Top Contributor
# 4
Top Contributor
Yes, there is potential double-counting without the entry in the REL. If the user goes from your site to paypal.com (for example) and back, GA would see 2 sessions. With an entry for paypal.com in the REL, GA would combine the 2 sessions. NOTE: The 2 visits need to be within the 30-minute session timeout window.

When you put the entry in the REL, and a visitor returns as a referral from that site, the REL strips the referral, making it direct, then GA puts the referral back in since it attributes the visit to the previous non-direct source. Since the REL strips out the referral, it passes your view filter, then GA re-attributes back to the original, making it look like the view filter isn't working.

sigh...
Mike Sullivan, Google Analytics Top Contributor
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View solution in original post

Re: Exclusion Referral List and Filter not Working?

Top Contributor
# 2
Top Contributor
Two things:
- the referral exclusion list is not to be used to exclude traffic; it is supposed to prevent visits to your site that go to a payment gateway and return to your site from being interpreted as 2 separate visits - one from the original source and the second from the payment gateway, It JOINS the two sessions together by excluding the second referral. For other traffic, it would simply strip off the referral and display the visit as direct traffic.
- GA uses last-non-direct attribution, so if you got a visit from Source A, then added Source A to the Referral Exclusion List, return visits from that user would be turned into direct visits, which would then be re-attributed to the previous Source A...which would be the referral you were trying to "exclude".

Use a view filter or a segment to exclude traffic from a specific referral. Do not use the Referral Exclusion list.
For more on this topic, see: http://help.analyticsedge.com/spam-filter/why-you-should-not-use-the-referral-exclusion-list-for-spa...
Mike Sullivan, Google Analytics Top Contributor
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Re: Exclusion Referral List and Filter not Working?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 3
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
Hi Mike,

Thank you for clearing up the issue as to the Referral exclusion list and why I should not attempt this functionality there.

This means that incoming traffic from those domains on the exclusion lists may be counted twice as the second is perceived as direct traffic. However, I should not be seeing either referral as the view filter is set to exclude that domain correct? Below is my view filter setup.

Type: Custom - exclude
Field filter: referral
Filter Pattern: some\.domain\.org.*
*not case sensitive

However I am still seeing referral traffic in my View that has the filter mentioned above. The referral traffic source I see comes in as some.domain.org:8443 which the wildcard at the end of the regex should take care off. Will tracked referrals from "some.domain.org" be excluded once I remove the exclusion filter?
Marked as Best Answer.
Solution
Accepted by topic author Blake F
February 2016

Re: Exclusion Referral List and Filter not Working?

Top Contributor
# 4
Top Contributor
Yes, there is potential double-counting without the entry in the REL. If the user goes from your site to paypal.com (for example) and back, GA would see 2 sessions. With an entry for paypal.com in the REL, GA would combine the 2 sessions. NOTE: The 2 visits need to be within the 30-minute session timeout window.

When you put the entry in the REL, and a visitor returns as a referral from that site, the REL strips the referral, making it direct, then GA puts the referral back in since it attributes the visit to the previous non-direct source. Since the REL strips out the referral, it passes your view filter, then GA re-attributes back to the original, making it look like the view filter isn't working.

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

Re: Exclusion Referral List and Filter not Working?

Explorer ✭ ☆ ☆
# 5
Explorer ✭ ☆ ☆
Your Regex expression is incorrect. The * wildcard in Regex is not the used in the same way as it normal is, which is 'anything after that'.

Re: Exclusion Referral List and Filter not Working?

Explorer ✭ ✭ ✭
# 6
Explorer ✭ ✭ ✭
Hi Blake,

First we need to understand why you want to exclude this referrer, if it is because they are spamming them you do not fix ghost referrals this way but should rather find a solution here : https://plus.google.com/+StephaneHamel-immeria/posts/WXdZAEe9Qb5

Re: Exclusion Referral List and Filter not Working?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 7
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
Thanks Hoang,

That explains why ^some\.domain\.org.*$ also doesn't work. can you tell me where google documents how they treat regex expressions if they don't follow the standard?

Re: Exclusion Referral List and Filter not Working?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 8
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
Thanks mike.

Exclusion Referral List and Filter not Working?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 9
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Hi Mike-

 

We're running into this issue with the payment gateway, and have corrected it in the past with PayPal by adding the referral exclusion paypal.com; however, now we have setup Amazon Pay, and we're getting referrals through Amazon.  We've added na.account.amazon.com as our referral exclusion, but it does not work.  We do not want to entirely exclude amazon.com, is this what you're suggesting as the fix?  If we added it to the referral exclusion list, would all non payment gateway amazon traffic that comes from amazon show up as direct traffic?

Exclusion Referral List and Filter not Working?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 10
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

As a side note, the referral path shows /ap/oa, but we can't add this as a referral exclusion.