We have two websites, A and B. A is tracked with Google Analytics.

Users arrive at site A and log in to site B from there. We have teasers for content on site A on the log out page of site B. So:

A -> B -> A

My goal is to track how many visitors respond to the teasers on site B and visit A.

I understand that after 30 minutes of inactivity a pageview starts a new visit.

Am I right in assuming that if the user is done on site B in less than 30 minutes his original visit to A is simply continued? If so, would all traffic source info be "carried over"? For example, the user arrives via Google on A, logs in to B, logs off, goes to A. Would I then see Google as the traffic source when I look at the traffic sources of the landing pages on A?

What would be a good way to accurately track clicks on the teasers? Tagging the links on B would be my preferred solution. We cannot install GA on B.

Many thanks for your help!


I decided to dig into this subject myself as I found a lot of contradictory info. Here's what I've found out so far:

  • The Firefox plugin Firebug (to look at request headers) and its extension Firecookie are useful tools for research on this topic.
  • GA's utmz cookie contains info on the referrer in its utmsr value.
  • During the same session, referral info is not overwritten by a second referral. So if the user takes the following path X -> A -> B -> A, utmsr is X upon the second arrival on A (again, same session).
  • Sidenote: utmsr is overwritten if the second arrival is coming from search/organic.
  • When __utm.gif is requested, one of the GET variables of the request is utmr. utmr contains the page referrer, i.e. B in the path example above.
  • GA seems to use utmz for referral reporting and not utmr. This is based on preliminary research. However, it would also explain why you sometimes see referring sites which don't have links to the specific page you're looking at.
  • I'll do some more research and post it here.

3 Answers 3


If site B is using https or even if you want to see the page views that come directly from site B on Site A on a separate line in Google Analytics there is another solutions.

Simply add a source string to your links to site A from site B. For example if your link was href="www.A.com/AddPage1" change it to href="www.A.com/AddPage1?Src=B-LogoutPage" on site B. Then whenever you received clicks on those links you would know they go to that specific page on site A.

One thing to be aware of is that you may need to add a link red="canonical" to the page on site A so Google doesn't think there is a difference between www.A.com and www.A.com/AddPage1?Src=B-LogoutPage. This would only be a concern if Google has access to the logged out page on Site B through web crawling.

If you eventually are allowed to use Google Analytics on Site B, it sounds like you may want to combine it with site A, if that becomes the case, I would suggest checking out Google Article on how to Track Multiple Domains with one tracking code.

  • GET parameters can easy be descridit(HTTP referrer also but harder). Commented Sep 16, 2010 at 19:19

You can check the referring sites in the GA statistics and see whether you have site B there. Have in mind that if site B is using https the referring site header is not send.

  • Do I really get a complete picture by looking at the referrer? Isn't the referrer the site the user came from when he originally entered A, assuming he spends < 30 minutes on B (i.e. the original visit is simply continued).
    – jmb
    Commented Sep 16, 2010 at 15:27
  • The referrer always point to the site you came from(where you click the link to get to the next website), no matter whether you spend there 5 hours or 5 seconds. Commented Sep 16, 2010 at 19:16
  • In a Google Analytics context, this doesn't seem to be true. See the update to the original question.
    – jmb
    Commented Sep 19, 2010 at 17:50

Also should mention that you can setup custom filters and "Goals" via GA that will allow you to track things at a glance. They take a bit to figure out and setup, but once done can give you the details you need in just a click or two.

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