A common support issue is about self-referral traffic. This is where the website's domain name appears in referral traffic, this is particularly common when there are subdomains e.g., a separate www. and tickets. website.

There are a few things you can try to reduce and hopefully eliminate self-referral traffic.

  1. Referral exclusions documentation
  2. Analytics script version
  3. Referral Exclusion List
  4. Long-tail of referral traffic from returning users

Referral exclusions documentation

A good place to start is the official documentation page https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/2795830?hl=en
These other steps in this guide will reference that so it's a good idea to start there if you want a high-level overview

Analytics script version

If there is a separate ticketing sub-domain (as in the case of BlocksOffice) then you will need to check that the following is true:
  1. To best minimise referral exclusions you will need to be running the newer analytics.js, not the older ga.js
  2. Both www. and ticketsmust be running analytics.js, not the older ga.js
  3. This will then give you access to the Referral Exclusion List. See: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/2795830

Referral Exclusion List

Google has a Referral Exclusion List that can be used to manage self-referrals. If there is nothing in that list you will want to add your domain names to that list. For example if you were running a BlocksOffice website for example.com you would want to add the following domains to that list:

  • example.com
  • www.example.com
  • tickets.example.com

Long-tail of referral traffic from returning users

The other thing to note is that there can be a long-tail of referral traffic from returning users. The "Referral Exclusions" support page has some good information about this:  https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/2795830?hl=en

From that link:


Why returning users from excluded domains still appear in your reports

This issue results from the default campaign timeout of 6 months:

User A arrives to your site via a referral from Domain B before you add that domain to the Referral Exclusion List.

That first session is attributed to Domain B.

You add Domain B to the Referral Exclusion List.

User A returns directly to the site (e.g., via a bookmark).

Because of the last-non-direct-click attribution model, this second session is also attributed to Domain B.



The best way to see this is to look at the % New Sessions under Referrals. 

Note the drastically lower value for % New Sessions compared to other referrer, if you see this it hints that you are seeing the issue described in the docs.