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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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Referral Traffic

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 1
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

If there is a link pointing to my website http://www.mywebsite.com but I'm using an SSL certificate e.g. https://www.mywebsite.com what will the medium be on the traffic that click the link? 

 

I have a 301 redirect in place for the http:// to https:// I assumed it would come through as referral but it has been suggested that due to the 301 it may appear as direct? 

 

Anyone have any experience of this?

 

Thanks

 

1 Expert replyverified_user

Referral Traffic

Top Contributor
# 2
Top Contributor

Hi :-)

If the 301 is setup correctly then the referral traffic should be tracked as normal..not just direct.

Traffic from an external https site to a http website will show as direct because https does not pass referral info to http by default. Since you have the 301 redirect in place though, it shouldnt be an issue.

 

Bronwyn Vourtis, Google Analytics Top Contributor
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Referral Traffic

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 3
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Hi,

 

So just to clarify, there is an external website who are linking to my website. They have said that I won't see any referral traffic from their site to mine because they set up the links incorrectly and linked to http version of my site, not the https.

 

You're saying that anyone who clicked the link on their site to come through to my site will be shown in Google Analytics as direct/none source/medium because the data cannot be passed through the redirect?

 

 

Referral Traffic

Top Contributor
# 4
Top Contributor

Hi :-)

So just to clarify, there is an external website who are linking to my website. They have said that I won't see any referral traffic from their site to mine because they set up the links incorrectly and linked to http version of my site, not the https.

 

You're saying that anyone who clicked the link on their site to come through to my site will be shown in Google Analytics as direct/none source/medium because the data cannot be passed through the redirect?

 

Nope.. that is not what I am saying.

What I am saying is you should see their referral info fine if your 301 is setup correctly.
The 301 when setup correctly, behaves seamlessly and it should go directly to the https page.
The referral info should stay intact.
Test it though, to be sure and see how it actually behaves.

Bronwyn Vourtis, Google Analytics Top Contributor
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Referral Traffic

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 5
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Perfect, thanks. 

 

Referral Traffic

Top Contributor
# 6
Top Contributor

Nps :-)

If you test it and find for whatever reason the referral info does not stay intact, I'd be interested in knowing

 

Thanks :-)

Bronwyn Vourtis, Google Analytics Top Contributor
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Referral Traffic

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 7
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Hello Bronwyn,

 

After various Google searches, I found this thread and have a follow-up question.

 

I'm having this same issue, which is:

- a 3rd-party [https] website posted a link to my website using [http] instead of the preferred [https]. As a result, any clicks from their [https] site to my site (using their [http] link to my site) results in the referral getting logged in my GA as "(direct) / (none)".

 

Prior to discovering this, my site was not configured to redirect any [http] request to [https] (where it does have a proper [https] SSL running).

 

Once I realized this, I added a 301 redirect in .htaccess, with the following:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTPS} !=on

RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [L,R=301]

 

So now my site properly redirects [http] to [https].

 

But -- here's where the problem lies: despite my .htaccess redirect, the referrer info is still getting lost -- any clicks from the 3rd-party [https] site are still getting logged in my GA as "(direct) / (none)".

 

You mentioned earlier in this thread:

"The 301 when setup correctly, behaves seamlessly and it should go directly to the https page. The referral info should stay intact."

 

Can you advise on what I can fix to ensure the referral info stays intact?

 

This has to be a fairly common issue for websites since Google has been pushing the use of HTTPS for all websites. Yet I haven't gotten referral info to stay intact, despite the numerous blog and stackoverflow posts I've read thru.

 

PS: In my GA Search Console, I also have 4 properties set up:

http://mydomain.com
http://www.mydomain.com

https://mydomain.com

https://www.mydomain.com

 

Obviously I can't control how other websites link to my site, so I'm wondering if there's something else I should be doing (either for the 301 redirect, or in Search Console, etc.)

 

Thank you!

 

Referral Traffic

Top Contributor
# 8
Top Contributor

Hi @Five Tango Victor A :-)

 

Is it only that particular https site that seems to present with the issue?

Are you able to provide a link to your site so i can take a quick look via browser

and also to the page on the 3rd party site that contains the link to your site?

Bronwyn Vourtis, Google Analytics Top Contributor
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Referral Traffic

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 9
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Thanks for the quick reply.

 

So far, this is the only website I'm aware of that's linking to my site in this manner (but of course I can't confirm that since I don't see any referral info).

 

So here's some more detail...

 

This is the [https] site that is linking to my site using a [http] link:

 

https://generalaviationnews.com/2018/05/29/new-app-helps-pilots-learn-from-accidents/

 

(see their opening sentence: "The Flight Chain App has launched...", which links to my site using [ http://www.flightchainapp.com ].)

 

On clicking their link, my site properly redirects (via my .htaccess) in the browser to [ https://www.flightchainapp.com ].

 

However, the referrer still logs in GA as "Source" = (direct) / "Medium" = (none).

 

Thanks for any advice you can pass along!

 

Referral Traffic

Top Contributor
# 10
Top Contributor

Hi @Five Tango Victor A :-)

 

I've noticed your https://domain.com is not redirecting to https://www.domain.com

Ideally it shouldn't be available via both.

 

I sent a couple of hits to your page via my own site (which is https), they are appended with ?testing, ?testing2 and ?testing3 at the end of the url.

When the traffic gets thru to the reports, can you check what the source/medium is for those hits?
Thanks :-)

 

 

 

 

Bronwyn Vourtis, Google Analytics Top Contributor
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