Excluding Payment Gateways as a Referral source In Google Analytics

Accurately tracking the source of sales online is a given for anyone promoting their business through a website. It allows budget allocation to be reviewed and and continued improvements made on the return from each channel (Direct, Organic, Paid, Referral and Social). 

As anyone who’s ever bought anything online, you’ll know that generally you don’t just click to a website, make the purchase and then go away. It is never that simple. In practice the process is more complex - you’ll visit the website several times, probably finding it through different channels before finally completing the goal.

Attribution is the process by which ‘credit’ is given to each channel against a sales conversion. By default, Google Analytics gives 100% credit to the last non-direct click. 

So, a visitor may well find your website through a paid click initially, but by the time they come to complete the purchase later, Analytics will track the sale from a different source (which is somewhat frustrating for your PPC person!)

Understanding the interaction between different channels is a complex process, but to see the overall effects of differing attribution models go to GAnalytics, navigating to Conversions > Attribution > Model Comparison and changing the model.

(TIP for PPC People - It’s fairly easy to show a 50% uplift in AdWords performance just by changing this!)

One specific issue we often come across is sales being attributed to a specific referral souce – the payment gateway. As shown below.

Now we know the sale didn’t come from the gateway, but because of the data interchange between the site and gateway, Analytics has tracked it as.

There is a simple solution to this though. All you need to do is go to Admin > Property > Tracking Info > Referral Exclusion List.

Once there, click Add Referral Exclusion and copy the gateway domain e.g. checkout.sagepay.com and press Save.

This will exclude your payment gateway and leave your list of referral sources slightly less cluttered. 


Gerard McHugh Posted by Gerard McHugh

Gerard McHugh - PPC Expert based in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire UK

Gerard has spent over 15 years working on Pay Per Click campaigns for companies operating in the UK, Europe and USA. He is Google Ads Certified in Search, Display and Shopping and a Microsoft Certified Professional

View Gerard McHugh's profile on LinkedIn



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