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Breaking Down Web Analytics: Referrer Type

Have you ever wondered how a visitor discovered your website? ClickDimensions web tracking can help! Each time a page view is generated in CRM, the field Referrer will help shed some light on that exact question. Before we begin our dive into the Referrer Type, it’s important to understand what a referrer is and how that information is passed from server to server.

Let’s break down the process of what happens when someone tries to visit your website. When someone clicks on a link to access a website, it initiates what’s called an HTTP request to access the website’s address. That request is sent to the server where the website you want to visit is hosted.In that request, there are several pieces of information, but for this blog post, we’re going to focus on what’s known as a header. The header contains various information about the client requesting access, including the URL they are requesting access from. This is known as the referrer URL. The referrer type is determined by the referrer URL.

Now that we know what the referrer URL is, we can start to determine how the visitor arrived at our website. In ClickDimensions, we have five different values for referrer on the visit record: 

  • Direct Traffic
  • Email
  • Social
  • Search Engine
  • Unknown

When a referrer type is Direct Traffic, this will imply there was no referrer URL in the HTTP request header. This means that the visitor knew the exact URL and typed it directly into the browser address bar or they clicked on a bookmarked page. A Direct Traffic referrer type will look like this:

Note that the Referrer field is blank, indicating the visitor did not request to access this page from a location.

If the referrer type is Email, it means that the URL contains ClickDimensions tracking parameters. On the visit record, the Entry Page URL will display those parameters:

 

Also note how the Visit record will be tied to the email send record the visit was generated from:

 

The referrer type will be set to Social if the referrer URL has a domain value related to a social network. We keep an extensive list of social networks to ensure accuracy.

 

Similarly, the referrer type will be Search Engine if the Referrer URL has a search engine domain value:

 

When we have a referrer type of Search Engine, depending on the search engine used, we may be able to pull in the keywords used by the visitor to locate our page. Google will not display any keywords resulting from an organic search; however, if the visitor clicked on a paid Google ad, those keywords will be passed through on the visit record. See here for more information.

If none of the above criteria apply, a referrer type of Unknown will be displayed:

 

Page views will also display referrer information similar to visit records, with the exception of those that are unknown. With page views, we have a referrer type of Referring Sites. This referrer type can occur under four different circumstances and is often influenced by the visit’s referrer type. A page view record will display a referrer type of Referring Sites under the following circumstances:

  • Visit Referrer Type = Unknown
  • Visit Referrer Type = Social
  • Visit Referrer Type = Search Engine
  • The page view is not the first page view of the visit

 

Happy Marketing!

2018-04-04T07:50:16+00:00 By |Web Tracking|0 Comments

About the Author:

mm
Emma D'Arcy is a ClickDimensions Product Consultant.

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