Pin Me

Google Analytics Reports: Referring Sites

written by: Lucinda Watrous•edited by: Misty Faucheux•updated: 10/24/2008

Ever wondered about which links to your site are bringing in the traffic? Wonder no more because the Google Analytics Referring Sites help you evaluate the effectiveness of all the links that you have coming into your site. Read on to find out more about this report and how you can use it.

  • slide 1 of 5

    The Google Analytics Referring Sites report will help you see from where people are coming to your site . This is helpful when you have left your link in comments on blogs and to measure the success of your site in the social media world with sites such as StumbleUpon, Digg and Reddit.

    GA Traffic Refer 

    You can access this report by clicking Traffic Sources and then clicking Referring Sites. It will look like this:

  • slide 2 of 5

    The report will show you how many different referral sites sent a total number of visits to your site each day. These are presented in graphical form, and, as with all other reports, you can change the view by clicking on the icons at the lower right of the screen. Below the graphical representation you will find the data represented on the graph.

    On this report, you will be able to see the site that the visitor used to get to yours. This will help you keep track of which links that you have placed to your site are actually bringing in traffic. When you purchase ads with smaller sites in your niche, this is a great way to see if these ads are working to your advantage. You’ll also find your search engine traffic in this report as they count as Web sites bringing you traffic. This information will be presented by itself in the Search Engines report, which will be covered in another article.

    By default, you’ll only see the domain of the referring site, not the entire URL. Sometimes it is better to see the entire URL though you’ll be able to figure it out with just the domain name most of the time. Don’t fret though as there are a few different ways that you can adjust the Google Analytics program in order to show the full URL.

  • slide 3 of 5

    The User Defined Report

    You’ll want to add a filter to your Analytics data like this:

    • Step 1: Click Goals.
    • Step 2: Click Learn how to Setup Goals and Funnels.
    • Step 3: In the pop-up window that opens up, scroll down to where you see Filters Applied to Profile.
    • Step 4: Click Add Filter in the top right of the box. If this is the first time that you are using the program, choose the Create a new filter for profile option. Your screen should look something like this: GA NewFilter 
    • Step 5: Choose a Custom Filter.
    • Step 6: Choose Advanced option.
    • Step 7: In Field A, enter/choose: Extract A: Referral (.*)
    • Step 8: Field B, enter/choose: Extract B:
    • Step 9: Make sure Output To option says Constructor: User Defined $A1
    • Step 10: Field A Required: Yes
    • Step 11: Field B Required: No
    • Step 12: Override Output Field: Yes
    • Step 13: Case Sensitive: No
  • slide 4 of 5

    Changing the Code

    If you are feeling brave, you can make this work without having to use the User Defined Filter. You have a couple options for altering the Google Analytics Tracking Code that you received when you set up your account.

    Option 1: Place this code in the head section of the page and use this body tag:

    <body onload="javascript:urchinTracker(document.referrer);">

    Option 2: Place the code below in the footer before the tag. Do not use both codes. The XXXX’s in the code represent your unique tracking code assigned by Google Analytics.

    <script src="" type="text/javascript">


    <script type="text/javascript">

    _uacct = "UA-XXXXXX-X";




  • slide 5 of 5

    Now you know how to make the Referring Sites report work best for you to help track your advertising outside of AdWords.

Learn More About Your Website Traffic with Google Analytics

Learn all about the sources of your web traffic so you can find out what works and what doesn't. This will help you decide what to do with your advertising budget.
  1. Learn More about Your Website Traffic Statistics
  2. Google Analytics Reports: Direct Traffic
  3. Google Analytics Reports: Referring Sites
  4. Google Analytics Reports: Search Engines
  5. Google Analytics Reports: All Traffic Sources
  6. Google Analytics Reports: Keywords
  7. Google Analytics Reports: Ad Versions
  8. Google Analytics Reports: Campaigns