Use the Landing Pages Report to Isolate Self-Referrals

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With Full Referrer as a secondary dimension, the Landing Pages report can identify cross-domain issues.

In a recent post, we identified missing tracking code and incorrect cross-domain setup as the two primary causes of self-referrals manifesting in the Referrals report within Google Analytics.

We can take advantage of the Landing Pages report to isolate both of these issues. Specifically, if we apply Full Referral as a secondary dimension, and also apply the built-in Referral Traffic advanced segment just to temporarily hide other traffic mediums, you can see specifically where the breakdown is occurring.

• If the landing page and full referrer are on the same domain, the referring page is probably missing the Google Analytics tracking code. Easy fix: include the tracking code.

• If the landing page and full referrer are on different domains (main site and checkout site, as an example), you have probably not configured cross-domain tracking correctly. We’ll examine cross-domain setup in an upcoming post.

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Main Causes of Self-Referrals: Missing Tracking Code and Incorrect Cross-Domain Setup

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The occurrence of your own website in the referrals report usually indicates missing tracking code or incorrect cross-domain setup.

It’s normal to see a few occurrences of your own website in your Referrals report. If a visitor waits more than 30 minutes between two page accesses on your site, the second pageview will count as new session, with medium as referral and source as your own domain.

If, however, the Referrals report shows a significant number of self-referrals, you’re probably dealing with either of the two issues below:

• One or more pages on your site are missing the Google Analyitcs tracking code.

• You are using the same tracking code on more than one domain and have not correctly cross-domain tracking (for a shopping cart that resides on a separate domain, as one example).

In upcoming posts, we’ll use the Landing Pages report to isolate both of these issues, and we’ll walk through correct setup for cross-domain tracking.

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