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I have the following website setup:

One property called example.com.

On this property, I track multiple domains and subdomains, such as:

  • www.example.dk
  • subdomain.example.dk
  • www.example.se
  • www.example.de
  • www.example.es
  • ...

I am currently using old Analytics (not universal) but have started the process for migration. Have not yet updated the tracking code.

What will happen if I don't add the domains to the Referral Exclusion List? Will then every pageview, let's say on www.example.dk, be treated as a session, because it's coming from a referral (www.example.dk) not on the list of excluded referrals?

The reason I don't want to add the domains to the Referral Exclusion list is because I want to still be able to track cross-domain referrals (like from www.example.dk to www.example.de for example), and also managing the list manually with each new domain is something I want to avoid.

  • Hi, sorry for posting a too broad question. I was re-posting this from the Google Analytics product forum, where nobody answered yet. It should be now more clear what I'm asking. If not, let me know. – Cristian Oct 13 '14 at 8:17
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    OK, thanks for narrowing it down. If you do end up getting a suitable answer there but not here, please add it below in that case. – dan Oct 13 '14 at 8:23
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This is from: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/2795830?hl=en. In particular, to answer your question, I've bolded a specific sentence.

How excluding referral traffic affects your data

By default, a referral automatically triggers a new session. When you exclude a referral source, traffic that arrives to your site from the excluded domain doesn’t trigger a new session. If you want traffic arriving from a specific site to trigger a new session, don't include that domain in this table.

Because each referral triggers a new session, excluding referrals (or not excluding referrals) affects how sessions are calculated in your account. The same interaction can be counted as either one or two sessions, based on how you treat referrals. For example, a user on my-site.com goes to your-site.com, and then returns to my-site.com. If you do not exclude your-site.com as a referring domain, two sessions are counted, one for each arrival at my-site.com. If, however, you exclude referrals from your-site.com, the second arrival to my-site.com does not trigger a new session, and only one session is counted.

  • I have read this sentence myself when I was researching, it's pretty clear about distinguishing traffic between 2 different domains, but it doesn't say anything about the traffic from the same domain, for example from www.mycompany.dk/front_page to www.mycompany.dk/other_page - would that count as 2 sessions? A referral is technically also set when it's the same domain. – Cristian Oct 14 '14 at 15:03
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    OK, in that case it shouldn't register as a new session is from within the same domain; the cookie would have already been set for that particular domain, which would preclude a new session from starting. – nyuen Oct 14 '14 at 16:32
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    If you are quite certain that is the case, then you can modify your answer to include that information and I can accept your answer. Thanks! – Cristian Oct 15 '14 at 13:33

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