Looking at yesterday, according to Google Analytics, I got six direct visitors to my site (their source/medium is direct/(none)). Only one ended up at the actual domain. The other five ended up at miscellaneous foo.com/xyz.html. I did not send out links to people by email, and I'm not sure how likely it is the people would have copy/pasted the URLs.

How do the visitors end up there? Is there a way to better capture where they might be coming from?


It basically means these requests are missing the http referrer header. There are several reasons why that would be the case -

  1. A https page has a link to your website, and the user follows that link. Browsers don't send the referrer in case of a https -> http transition. A simple case is a search engine accessed via https.
  2. They are behind some kind of proxy that strips out referrer headers, or they have deliberately installed a browser plugin to do that.
  3. Someone is trying to scrape your website using a custom program (not browser), and is not sending the http referrer.

6 requests is a very small number. If you see several hundreds of requests, you could try to co-relate and find out more information. Otherwise, there is no definite answer.

  • Okay, I think the HTTPS sounds the likeliest (most of the traffic is pretty local to people I know). Is it possible that I would get both traffic attributed to Facebook, and not, based on the type of login (HTTP/HTTPS) that users are using? (The 6 is over 2 days, or 15 of 26 visitors week, 1 of whom went to the root.) – mfg Mar 14 '11 at 18:00
  • @mfg - I didn't understand your question. What do you mean by attributed to "facebook and not"? – Sripathi Krishnan Mar 14 '11 at 18:20
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    @Sripathi - mfg wants to know whether Facebook may be sending traffic to the site from both HTTP and HTTPS sources (Facebook-specific question). Just tested and it does appear Facebook links out from both HTTP and HTTPS contexts. – danlefree Mar 14 '11 at 18:54
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    The only way you can influence the browser is by making your website https enabled. A https -> https transition preserves the referrer header. – Sripathi Krishnan Mar 14 '11 at 19:06
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    +1. This is an excellent answer. Worth including: Non-web sources, like mobile or desktop apps. – Yahel Mar 14 '11 at 20:13

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