One of the most sought after data on Google Analytics is referral traffic—what segment of traffic is coming on your website via other sources. But this data can be misleading for a variety of reasons.
For example, consider the traffic on an ecommerce website. After the check out on a third-party website, the user is directed back to the order page. This counts as a referral traffic. But this is not how the user came upon your website.
This type of referral messes with your data. And you surely don’t want that. That’s why Google Analytics offer referral exceptions. You can choose the referrals which don’t count.
Adding a Referral Traffic Source
Referral exception settings is initiated manually. You choose the referrals that don’t count and add them to exceptions.
You can do so by following these simple steps.
On your Google Analytics account, navigate to Admin in the navigation bar and click on it. In the Admin area, select an account and use drop-down to choose a property (which actually implies a website) for which you wish to create an exception.
Then, in the PROPERTY column, click Tracking Info. This will generate a list of options below. Click Referral Exclusion List to proceed.
Now, click + ADD REFERRAL EXCLUSION to create a new referral exception. Enter a domain name in the text box, and click Create to save the exception.
But there is one thing that you should keep in mind. Entering a domain name, like domain.com will create exception for all traffic coming from domain.com and its subdomain, like sub.domain.com. It will not create an exception for referrals from domains like another-domain.com.
Removing a Referral Exception
Follow all the steps above to access the referral exclusion list. In the referral exclusion list, you will see a remove button opposite to each of the exception in the corresponding row. To remove an exception, click remove and then confirm by clicking Delete domain.
Why referral exception is important
Any incoming traffic from a referral triggers a session. However, if there is a referral exception, a new session never kicks-off. So having an exception decides how sessions will be calculated on your website.
That is, if you don’t create a required exception, you will end up concluding that you’re getting a good referral traffic. This will in-turn push you to make wrong and misinformed decisions. Not to mention how it can be bad for your business.
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