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Google Analytics is a must-have for anybody running an online business - it’s crucial in tracking your website’s performance. One of the key metrics you’re likely to track is revenue, which will help you measure the success of your marketing efforts.

This sounds simple enough, but what happens if your revenue is misattributed to the wrong channel? Before we take a look at possible solutions, let’s first discuss what referral traffic is.

What is referral traffic?

Referral traffic is when someone visits your website by clicking on a link from another website. For example, if someone clicks on a link to your website from a blog post or article hosted by another website, then that’s considered referral traffic. In many cases, referral traffic is a good thing, especially if you’re running an affiliate marketing campaign. 

However, referral traffic can cause problems in certain situations.

Misattributed referral traffic

Here’s a common example of misattributed referral traffic: using a payment service that requires the shopper to be redirected to their website and then back to yours.

As the payment provider’s website doesn’t contain your tracking pixel, Google Analytics can’t recognize that this is part of the journey the customer took. As a result, Google will label this as a referral, which can cause large sums of revenue to be misattributed to the referral channel - this can then lead to an inaccurate view of revenue for your other advertising channels.

The solution? Referral exclusions

Referral exclusions allow you to exclude certain websites from being counted as referrals. This will help you ensure that revenue is being accurately attributed to the correct marketing channels.

Set up referral exclusions in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

In GA4, referral exclusions are called unwanted referrals and are set up in a slightly different way:

  1. Under admin, click on data streams in the property column.
  2. Click web and then click a web data stream.
  3. From there, click configure tag settings located near the bottom of the page.
  4. Under the settings section, click show all to see all available settings.
  5. Click on ‘list unwanted referrals’.
  6. You’ll see a field called ‘include referrals that match ANY of the following conditions'.
  7. Select a match type, enter the identifier for the domain you want to match under the domain field and click add condition to add another domain.
  8. Finally, click save.

Excluding certain websites from being counted as referrals can give you a more accurate view of your website’s performance, helping you make better-informed decisions about your marketing strategy.

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