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My friend maintains a website with the domain example.com. She also owns the domains example.org and example.net, which both do a 301 redirect to example.com. She uses Google Analytics on example.com.

She wants to know how many visitors she's getting from example.org and example.net, to figure out whether to keep renewing these domains.

Can Google Analytics give her these numbers? If so, where in the interface would that be?

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If the sites are all using either HTTP or HTTPS - meaning you do not have https://example.com and http://example.net, but either http://example.com + http://example.net + http://example.org - or https://example.com + https://example.net + https://example.org - Google Analytics should have this data under Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals. Anyone who comes from the .net or .org (and sends data to Google Analytics - not everyone is tracked, so keep in mind you may be missing some data) will be automatically captured there.

But, if there is a mix of HTTP and HTTPS, GA doesn't capture the referral. A few options to start tracking the redirects would be:

  • Install SSL certificates on all the sites so GA will capture the data automatically.

  • Instead of immediately 301 redirecting, you could set up code on the .org and .net that first sends server-side data to Google Analytics. With PHP as an example, you can use PHP to send a hit to Google Analytics, and then redirect the visitor. I am not sure how well this would work for search engines.

  • Or, on the .com, add code to check for the HTTP referrer. With PHP as an example again, you can get the referring URL, and if that referrer matches the .com or .net, you could send that data to either GA as an event or custom variable, or you could send it to your own tracking log - i.e. a text file - and track it there.

  • If she has access to server logs, she may also be able to find referral info in those, but they tend to be huge and tedious to wade through.

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