Referral exclusions

Leave out some domains from your referral sources.

This feature is only available for properties using Universal Analytics. Learn how to set up Universal Analytics or upgrade from Classic Analytics to Universal Analytics.

Traffic can arrive at your site several ways: directly through a browser window; by clicking a paid ad or organic search engine result; or as a referral. Referral traffic is the segment of traffic that arrives at your site through a link on another site. Analytics automatically recognizes where traffic was immediately before arriving on your site, and displays the domain names of these sites as the referral traffic sources in your reports. For more information on different kinds of traffic, read about traffic sources.

Read the technical feature reference about Campaign & Traffic Sources or consult the Campaigns & Traffic Sources flow chart for a visual representation.

You can exclude specific domains from being recognized as referral traffic sources in your Analytics reports. A common use for this feature is to exclude traffic from a third-party shopping cart to prevent customers from being counted in new session and as a referral when they return to your order confirmation page after checking out on the third-party site.

Google Analytics recognizes the URL you use to set up a new property in your account and automatically excludes this domain from your referral traffic, so you won’t see self-referrals in your Analytics reports.

You must, however, manually add all other domains (including sites in a cross-domain tracking or third-party shopping cart setup) to exclude traffic from those domains from being recognized as referral traffic in your reports.

How excluding referral traffic affects your data

By default, a referral automatically triggers a new session. When you exclude a referral source, traffic that arrives to your site from the excluded domain doesn’t trigger a new session. If you want traffic arriving from a specific site to trigger a new session, don't include that domain in this table.

Because each referral triggers a new session, excluding referrals (or not excluding referrals) affects how sessions are calculated in your account. The same interaction can be counted as either one or two sessions, based on how you treat referrals. For example, a user on my-site.com goes to your-site.com, and then returns to my-site.com. If you do not exclude your-site.com as a referring domain, two sessions are counted, one for each arrival at my-site.com. If, however, you exclude referrals from your-site.com, the second arrival to my-site.com does not trigger a new session, and only one session is counted.

Add or remove referral traffic sources

This setting is controlled applied in the admin settings of each property in your account. To exclude traffic from specific domains as referral traffic:

Any hostname that contains the string you add will be excluded. For example, if you add example.com to the list of referral exclusions, another-example.com will also be excluded from your referral traffic.

  1. Navigate to a property. If you're not in the settings screen, click Admin.
  2. Click Tracking Info then Referral Exclusion List.
  3. Enter the Domain.
  4. Click Apply to save.

You can also remove domains from the list of exclusions, reintroducing that traffic as a referring source in your reports, by following these steps.