Semalt Expert: Fixing The Issue Of Self Refferals In Google Analytics

Sometimes, one's domain may appear in the Google Analytics report as part of the traffic. It is a problem that developers need to fix as it can cause problems with reporting and give unreliable data. If one does not eradicate the self-referral issue, it may lead to skewed data which may result in wrongful decision making for marketing campaigns. In addition to this, it becomes impossible to credit the marketing channel which helped increase conversion rates for the site.

In most cases, the problem arises due to the failure of Google Analytics to configure correctly, or the owner's wrongful implementation of the extension.

Jack Miller, the Senior Customer Success Manager of Semalt, outlines here the causative factors and how to correct them. Also, he offers a universal analytics' fix at the end to reduce the number of self-referrals to the site.


Referral traffic is the portion of traffic which reaches a site from another source. It may be in the form of a link from another domain. The links should not have any campaign characteristics otherwise it will term as referral spam. Unlike spam, analytics automatically detects where the spam comes from and displays the names of the domains that generate it.

1. JavaScript Redirects

Migrations from websites are harder than what most people think. To make sure one covers everything, taking a structured approach would be the most rational thing to do. JavaScript redirects are common and often result in self-referrals.

How to fix: instead of using JavaScript, server-side redirects would work better. They make sure that the universal tracking code loads on the new domain and should verify that the problem does not persist.

2. Pages Missing a Tracking Code

When people forget to tag their pages, it becomes hard to track them. The result is people find their domains on the reports page.

Fix: always make sure to include a tracking code on all the pages on a site. If one is unsure of the site's status., the Tag Inspector will come in handy.

3. Pages Dropping Cookie Data

Universal Analytics Cookie should apply when jumping between pages. If one page drops the cookie for some reason, the session automatically ends. Consequently, a new cookie begins creating a new session. One should make sure that they examine all the landing pages learn where the self-referral begins using the secondary dimension tool.

Fix: Go through the pages to know where the issue starts and why it does. Once the developer knows the cause of the problem, it gets easier to target it. If the fix comes easy, then go ahead and fix it. If it is hard, one should involve a developer who needs to be well aware of the importance of solving the problem and let them fix it on behalf.

4. Cross-Domains

Some companies may own several domains, and they sometimes get the need to connect visitor activity to several of them. If done effectively, they should make sure that the original cookie remains constant. Technically connecting these domains is the way to go.

Fix: Ensure that all cookies remain constant across domains.

5. Session Timeout Myth

When a session expires after a given moment, a new session starts. It is believed to create new data traffic.

Fix: One can set the time limit for a session to higher and see the impact it has on self-referrals.

The referral exclusion list is one setting that helps tackle the issue of self-referral directly.