Preface: I'm taking a look at the Google Analytics we have for our product's website and we have a bunch of goals setup for each specific type of account we have on the website.

Question: When looking at the Traffic Sources > Referring Sites page, and then looking at it by Goals, it gives me a set of percentages for each goal by referring site. However, it seems like the only things that have conversions are our internal pages, our blog, and Google.

I guess my question is: if a user shows up from another website, and then clicks around before signing up, will they be counted?

1 Answer 1


If your main referring sites are internal pages, it means your Google Analytics is mis-implemented, and is leading to self-referrals.

In other words, people are coming to your site from external pages, then at some point, likely due to a subdomain change without proper code to handle the change, they're being treated as a new visit, with a referral from an internal page. Then when they complete your goal, that session has a source that is your internal page.

Hypothetical Example:

Google Search "Jon Lim's widgets" That leads me to jonlimswidgets.com/buy-now. On this page, I'm a visitor referred by Google Search.

I click a 'Buy Now' button, which takes me to secure.jonlimswidgets.com. But, if I didn't setup subdomain tracking in my tracking code, I've initiated a new visit, referred by jonlimswidgets.com.

Then I buy your widget, trigger your goal, and the Referring Site for completing that goal is jonlimswidgets.com

There are other things that could cause self-referrals, but this is the most common cause.

To prevent this from happening, you should read up on Cross-Domain Tracking in Google Analytics.

  • Might be the problem, let me investigate a little more. It's just weird because people coming in from the blog are counting, as are Google search referrals, but anything from other sites (Like Stack Exchange sites or Hacker News) is not counting. Thanks!
    – JonLim
    Commented Apr 19, 2011 at 20:27

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