Analytics
6.4K members online now
6.4K members online now
Learn to identify referral spam traffic, as well as best practices to reduce referral spam in your Google Analytics account
 
Guide Me
star_border
Reply

Not sure whether to make a filter or exclude subdomains

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 1
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Hi,

 

we are running a GA Account for which the many subdomains show up a lot within the referrals and blur up the input from real links. Can be for instance the subdomain used for payments, or for the blog, and so on. Which means it may have some value to still keep this information. 

 

I am not sure what is smarter regarding this. I can either exclude them (in which case every hit after that pops up in direct traffic, right?) or make a specific filter for them. According to what I read the former is the one that usually gets recommended. What are the best practices here? If we opt for a filter then should it be made again on a new profile? 

 

Thanks,

 

Pauline.

Marked as Best Answer.
Solution
Accepted by topic author Pauline V
April 2016

Re: Not sure whether to make a filter or exclude subdomains

Follower ✭ ☆ ☆
# 2
Follower ✭ ☆ ☆

Hi Pauline -

I think it comes down to deciding which provides the most value to you in reporting. If you are reporting on the referrals to see how your link building campaigns are going, for identifying additional partners in your space as well as monitoring the quality of those referral links and traffic to your site I would absolutely add those subdomain and payment domains to the referral exclusion list. Why?
1- It will surface more meaningful referral source data and make analysis easier.

2- You can still see user click path data of those subdomains and payment services by adding your GA code to those pages as well if you haven't already. Some analysts even keep a separate property for this as opposed to a separate view, I like to call the "omnipotent" property that has everything reporting in from everywhere (subdomains, blogs, 3rd party pages, etc). If you need to add your code to those subdomains and another code already exists on those pages (your first code or someone else's in the case of a payment platform, or a blog managed by someone else) be sure to see Google's instructions for implementing multiple GA codes on the same page.

2- You're correct, adding a domain to the Referral Exclusion list does not block the traffic from recording in the Analytics account, but re-categorizes the traffic in the Direct channel as opposed to the Referral channel. Once in the Direct channel you lose detail data about that traffic's source. On the flip side, if you were to set up a filter for those subdomains, the traffic data would be excluded from your account totally. It would not just be blocked from you seeing it, it would be blocked from ever recording a mark in the account, you can never get it back. So, using the Referral Exclusion list gives you a better picture of your data and user behavior.

3- I'm not sure, but I believe the user's session cookie gets maintained. The full story of the user path and journey on your site is now stitched together into one session. In your current configuration if a user starts on a page, navigates to the subdomain and then comes back to another page it may look like they viewed one page, left and then came back to the site starting a new session. By placing the subdomain on the Referral Exclusion list let's Google know that those domains are "all in the family". <--- Can anyone confirm/deny this?

 

Hopefully you are not using the count of the incoming traffic from a payment subdomain as the indication that a payment was completed. There are better methods for payment tracking. But in the event that you are, placing the payment subdomain on the Referral Exclusion list will make this difficult.

 

Please Note - the Referral Exclusion list is a property setting, not a view filter. This means that once you set it for the property, it will apply to all the views associated with that property.

 

One more option: If you find value in, and really want to "see" the data from those sources separately from your referral traffic you could also consider making a custom channel grouping, effectively earmarking that traffic and putting it in it's own bucket. 

 

 

 

Filters and Views

As far as best practices on filters and views, what is commonly recommended is to maintain a minimum of 3 views for any property, although you can have more.

1- All the raw data, no filters, no nothing, but all the other account configurations you are using like audience and site search enabled, goals configured, that add to, but don't alter the original data. This is the "in case of emergency" data you can always fall back on if a filter goes awry in your master or test views. 

2- A test view. This is your configuration sandbox. It should have started out looking exactly like your Raw Data view. Use this view to test filters like those excluding IP addresses, spam filters, etc. You can compare to the data in your Raw Data view to verify! Then, if the filter accomplished what you intended it to do, copy it up to the Active/Master View, also leaving it active in your Test view. You can copy the filters easily in the admin panel from the Account settings.

3- Active / Master view. This is the view you actually report from. This data is the data that you have scrubbed internal IP addresses, spam, bots and other things that blur the data you really want to see. Never add a filter here if you have not tested it first in the Test View first!

 

 

 

Re: Not sure whether to make a filter or exclude subdomains

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 3
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
Thank you Liz. So basically all that needs to be checked about the referral exclusion list is whether a visit gets recounted once it has been excluded and that the visitor exits the payment page to reach the "normal" website again.

Can anyone confirm this?

Re: Not sure whether to make a filter or exclude subdomains

Follower ✭ ☆ ☆
# 4
Follower ✭ ☆ ☆
Hi Pauline -

Is your payment system on a subdomain of your site? If so you can add your GA code to those pages and those who go from your "normal" site to the payment pages and back to the "normal" site should be seen as one session.
If you have a 3rd party payment system that takes users off your root domain all together, there may be analytics integration options provided by your payment system service. Do you mind sharing what payment solution you are using?

Re: Not sure whether to make a filter or exclude subdomains

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 5
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
Hi Liz,

our main payment page is on the subdomain of the website. We have the GA Code implemented there already.

The thing is, we also do offer Paypal since a little while (which gets reported with their own domain as a referral), though not many customers choose it until now. There is no analytic code implemented there, nor am I aware of a solution for them to help us tracking our customers once they are logged in on their website? It would indeed be nice to pin down on which platform our customers most usually stop their buying process.

Thanks,

Pauline.