This is the seventh lesson video from my course The Exact Process For Setting Up Google Analytics – https://www.thequantifiedweb.com/exactga.
I decided to post the videos from the lessons publicly, but I encourage you to log into the course because from within the course you can access the written notes and the checklists, plus access my special offer. The course is completely free to register 🙂
In this lesson you’ll be learning about the Referral Exclusion list, and why you should update it.
The Referral Exclusion list determines which domains will count as an external referral and which ones will be ignored (considered to be internal).
This is especially important if your online sales process or product offering spans more than one website or domain, uses an iframe to link third-party tools to your website, or uses payment processors like paypal.com which are hosted external to your main website.
Click to Open Transcription of Video
Hi! Welcome to Lesson Seven in the Exact Process for Setting Up Google Analytics. Now, in this lesson, we are going to go through Setting Up the Referral Exclusions and these referral exclusions will enable you to have certain websites that can refer traffic to your website without it counting as a brand new session.
Now, just an explanation on what this means. When we went through the session timeout lesson, I explained that there were only two ways that a session would end if someone came to your website. So one is if the session timed out and the other would be if they left your website and then even, well if they came back but they came back via a link then it would count as a new session.
So we can run into situations where we have sessions that accidentally split in half due to sending our users away to another website and then they use a link to come back. Now, if we don’t have the other website included in our excluded referrers, then when they come back via the link then it will break the session in half. And if this process is a key conversion on your website then you won’t know what marketing channel led to that conversion because the conversion will be attributed to the source that the final referrer came from.
So for example, Paypal. You may send someone to Paypal and then they, the user may click on a link that says return to the website and that’s a link. So if you don’t have Paypal set up as an excluded referrer, then if someone comes back via the link then you’ll see paypal.com as a referral and that will be attributed to the actual conversion as the originating source of traffic which isn’t the case. And that will really mess up your reports because it won’t let you see which campaigns led to conversions and that’s what we’re trying to achieve here.
Alrighty, so I’m going to just — let’s go through the lesson now, shall we? So go to this website, www.thequantifiedweb.com/exactga and put in your email address and click Get Started Today. And then go down to the lesson, here it is, Set Up the Standard Referral Exclusion List and then Here’s how to do it.
Alrighty, so — alright, so you might have more than just Paypal that would be considered a referrer. So what we’re going to do, we’re going to just do a bit more detailed procedure of checking if there are any other referrals that we might want to include. So let’s follow through the steps.
Alright, so we’re going to Check the Referral Traffic graph. So we go to the Acquisition, All Traffic, Referrals. Okay, Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals. Okay, now this particular website doesn’t have any referrals coming in for this time period. Let’s just see. So actually, I don’t have the steps in there for it but if we don’t have anything, might want to extend the time period. So I’m just going to do a bit more time. Now we don’t have any — Oh, I’m in the wrong view. Okay, so we want to make sure that we’re on the right view first of all.
So if you’ve been following along, you want to make sure that you are in the Filtered Data No Params view. Might actually add that to the procedure. Okay, so now, I’ve already got that in there, I just didn’t follow the procedure. So switch over to Filtered Data No Params view and expand the number of rows if necessary. So we have 17 rows in this case so let’s just increase the number of rows.
Alright, now what we are looking for first of all is: are there any referrals from URLs that have a similar name or a subdomain of the client’s domain. These URLs may be owned by the client. Alright, so you will see fairly commonly you’ll have websites that they have sister websites or basically, there’s more than one website now as an aggregate to the user’s business.
So there’ll be — okay, so different situations where this could occur. So you might have a blog on one website and then a business page on another website and in fact mine is like that. So I’ve got petramanos.com as my blog and then thequantifiedweb.com is my business page so that’s one situation or you might have a domain is being used for a particular software.
So now that we’ve got courses and things being hosted the — typically you’ll find that the course website is being hosted on one website and then the, your main domain name might be on another one. Similar with forms and you’d have lead pages and landing page software – they are often hosted on different domain names. Then another situation that you might see is where you have payment processors. So you can have completely external payment processors like Paypal or you can have pay, payment processors that are hosted on a subdomain.
So subdomains are counted as a completely different hostname in Google Analytics. So what we want to do is we want to find any URLs that have a similar name or a subdomain or basically any domain that we know is also owned by the same business that we would want to link in some way.
Another situation you might see is the same domain but without the www. So this particular one that I’m going through actually, they do not have a www in their URL. But www is a very common subdomain of a hostname. In fact, it’s so common that it’s ubiquitous on the internet. We just assumed there’s going to be a www but it is actually a subdomain and it’s not a requirement.
But some websites, if they’ve got their hostname a little bit wonky, some pages will have the www’s and some pages will not. And then, if people are clicking between the two, then you get a really messy situation where the sessions keep getting split in half all the time because every time they switch from the www to the not www, it counts as a different subdomain, therefore a different domain and Google Analytics restarts a session. Nasty. So we want to be looking out for that kind of situation.
So we’re on referrals and I am not seeing — Oh, here we go actually I have found one. So this particular person has a Clickfunnels website that has — so they have a Clickfunnels website which is part of the same business group. And then there’s also this myshopify one as well. So both of these have subdomains that are close enough to the business name that we would want to consider them as the one business.
Basically, it’s not — so Facebook is obviously not this client’s business but this Clickfunnels page is associated with this, but this Clickfunnels page is. Alright, so we want to — if you’ve got multiple domain names, we want to add all of them to Referral Exclusions. So I’ve just said be a bit vigilant when looking through. So I’m going to write down some notes about — I’m just going to do it really, really quickly.
Alright, so I just wrote those down. Good old pen and paper. I’m fond of just having a piece of paper next to my desk.
Alright, so I’ve noted down the domain names that need to be added to Referral Exclusions. Now, do also look for any obvious issues such as payment processors or booking or appointment setting websites or websites that have a large percentage of referrals that might not be owned by the client but that is or owned by yourself but are integral to your business.
So let’s have a look. So we’ve got Facebook, that’s social media. Social media, Instagram, Facebook. Now, we’ve got a Clickfunnels one. Now, this app.clickfunnels.com, that one is, often that one is usually associated with testing on Clickfunnels. But in general, once we’re getting down into the ones and twos, it’s really not a big issue. It, we want to be concerning ourselves with the bigger ones and to be honest, referral traffic isn’t — we’ve gone all the way from January and we haven’t got too many anyway, so, in this particular one so we don’t have to worry about that.
Alright, so let’s set this up. So let’s go back to Admin. And I’m going to open the Referral Exclusion list. Alrighty, so I’ll just look into it, Tracking Info, Referral Exclusion that’s right. It’s blank for a second there. Alright, so what you should find is your own domain name – should already be in there. If you have blank in here then we’re going to be adding your domain name but that’s, I’m probably getting ahead of myself.
So, so far, the Referral Exclusion List should include referrals from your own website and payment gateways. So if you — if it’s not already added, add your own domain to the Referral Exclusion List. Alrighty, so in this case, we already have so we’re good. Now, add any additional referrals noted in the earlier step to the Referral Exclusion List. So what we do is we click this Add Referral Exclusion button and I’m just going to add those now.
Alrighty, now the next thing we want to do is exclude paypal.com. Paypal is so common that I just do it as part of the standard set up just in case because the chance of someone eventually adding Paypal to one of their websites is not far-fetched. So let’s click on Add Referral Exclusion again and let’s just add Paypal.
Alrighty, look I often work with e-commerce businesses. And in e-commerce businesses I quite often see afterpay.com so I’ll just be adding afterpay.com as well. If you have no intention of ever using it then don’t worry about adding it, but that’s one that I often just add up because, to be honest, it doesn’t hurt just to have it in here. It’s not going to create any problems.
Alright, so at the end of this step, you should now have your Referral Exclusion List correctly set up and now if someone clicks your website from any one of these, well from any links from any one of these domains, it won’t count as a new session. Hopefully, that makes sense.
Alrighty, well the next lesson that we are going to go through is Creating a Traffic Has Dropped Alert which we do before we start setting up all the filters and I will go through that with you on the next lesson. Bye!
If you liked this video and want to find the next one, look out for How to Create a “Traffic Has Dropped” Alert in Google Analytics. In that next video, we’ll be showing you how to set up an email that lets you know if you have a loss of traffic, which is really helpful when you are changing filters. You would not want to accidentally lose a chunk of your data due to a small mistake!