I'm trying to get an understanding of how many visits to landing pages (e.g. /) are coming from external referrers (e.g. Google/other search engines, direct) vs. self referrers (people clicking links that take them back to landing pages while active on our site). But it seems like most reports on referrers focus on external/direct referrers and not self referrers.

I've tried going to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages, then clicking the landing page I'm trying to understand (/, the home page), and then adding Source as a secondary dimension, but it seems all sources are either other sites (google, github.com, etc.), or are (direct) (which I understand to mean either typing the URL in the address bar, bookmarks, or visiting the site after the GA session expires). I'd expect to see either our domain show up in the list, or something like (self), but none of the results show anything like this.

I've also tried going to Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals, but all of these are external sites. Acquisition > All Traffic > Treemaps would be helpful, as it shows the medium (e.g. organic search, referral, direct, social, email, (other)), but still doesn't seem to include self referrals.

Would self referrals be included in direct? (Hopefully not, as it seems important to be able to distinguish between self-referrals and bookmarks/address bar referrals.) Or am I missing something?


In reading more about this, it seems like in GA, a referral is what brought the user to your site originally, even if it was several pages prior.

What I'm looking to gain more understanding from is the page they were on immediately before visiting the landing page, including visits to (referrals from) another page on our site (for example, the HTTP_REFERER header). Does GA not capture/report on this immediate referrer page?

1 Answer 1


You'll have to put this together from a couple of places, but you should be able to get what you are looking for.

The Source dimension is always the source for the session as a whole, so you're right that it's not the only thing you need to look at. It is likely something you want to look at to get the whole picture, though!

If you go to Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages, you'll get only the pageviews that were the first in their respective session. Adding Source as a secondary dimension to that report will show you where people arrived from if they landed on that page from outside your site.

To get more specific than Source, there are referral dimensions, but whether they work for your site is highly dependent on your site being SSL. A visit from an https site to an http site will hide the referer information. Even if you are SSL, you may see a little bit of spottiness to the data. To use it, though, from the Landing Pages report add a secondary dimension of Full Referrer. There is also a Referral Path dimension, but that's most helpful if you've restricted to a particular source, since it doesn't indicate the domain.

To get the internal traffic, you'll go to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages and add a secondary dimension of Previous Page Path. This isn't in any of the standard reports (probably because it doesn't make sense as a primary dimension) but it will show in the dropdown for secondary dimensions. In this report, all of the people who landed on the page will have a Previous Page Path of (entrance), and the internal traffic will be separated out by which page they came from.

The previous page path report counts every pageview - if someone reloads the page, they will have a previous path of the same page, and if they visit it twice in one session, both of their previous paths will be included - but it should give you a sense of proportions.

On a general report interaction note: in the case of Source and Previous Page Path, instead of filtering the report to the page you're interested in and adding the secondary dimension, you can also click through on the page you're interested in and change the primary dimension to Source or Previous Page Path. The restriction to that one page will be preserved and it might make the report easier to look at. For whatever reason, whether you've clicked through or not, Full Referrer and Referral Path are only available as secondary dimensions.

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