In Google Analytics, why does Google show up sometimes under an organic medium, and other times as a referral? (They frequently have the same landing page.)

As I understand (and I'm just as likely to be dead wrong), the organic medium indicates someone found a link to my page in search results and the referral is when a link from site X leads to my site. I understand a search engine just populates a page with links, so how does GA determine when to call a Google referral organic as opposed to referral?

1 Answer 1


This answer may help - https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1011811?hl=en-GB.

Not all referrals from Google.co.uk domains come through organic search or AdWords ad listings. Referrals may come from a variety of sources, including Google Groups posts, base.google.com listings or static pages on related Google sites. Such visits are tagged as [referral] instead of [organic] or [cpc].

  • I pulled one referral set from the google.ca domain; 3 new, 2 returning visitors. Is there anyway to get more detail on the referral than just the domain?
    – mfg
    Apr 13, 2011 at 13:53
  • 1
    If you click on the referring site name in the report then it lists the pages on that site that the link came from. Apr 13, 2011 at 13:58
  • @paulmorriss, the link is broken — I remember hearing this uttered in one of the GAIQ videos
    – Baumr
    Jul 10, 2013 at 14:42
  • I've fixed the link and quoted the answer, which I should have done first time around. Jul 12, 2013 at 8:41

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