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Our website displays content based on an ID included at the end of the url:

www.mywebsite.com/pageID

So the Google analytics data shows each ID as a separate page, which is what we want. The problem is that, for each page, there are many referring urls for external pages which don't actually link to that page, but do link to a different page.

For example, the referrers for www.mywebsite.com/page1 will include external pages that link to www.mywebsite.com/page2, www.mywebsite.com/page3 etc.

Why is this happening?

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I'm not a guru, but basically for referrers Google uses the referrer URL from the visitor's request which gives them the page with the your-site-link on it and the visitor's previous page. And depending on the visitor's path and how they arrived on your site (on any page) Google can report different results. Analytics needs help from you by using tags to understand where your inbound links are coming from.

You have regular referrals (let's call them Real referrals), self referrals (Analytics reports activity from your own site as a referral), referral spam (bots, spiders). You need to look deeper into the traffic details to see where referrals are actually coming from.

In Analytics check your Channels - Secondary Dimension - choose Medium, this will show you where your referral traffic is coming from. See what domains come up. You can also check Acquisition - All Traffic - Source/Medium for that information. Here's an article on how to remove internal/spam referrals from your results.

  • As the question states, the problem is with external referrers, and I know for a fact that these external pages do not link to the pages on my website that GA is saying they do. – lockstock Mar 22 '18 at 23:42
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Have all of your site pages got the GA tracking code installed on them? That is the simplest cause of a problem like this (i.e. internal site pages showing up as referral traffic).

  • As the question states, the problem is with external referrers – lockstock Mar 22 '18 at 23:43

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