Chapter 09

View Referrer Reports

By Anna Tomalik

Up until now, you’ve learned about visitor reports and action reports. So you basically know who your visitors are, and what they do on your website. Now it’s time to find out where they come from.

The referrer reports will point you to websites, campaigns, search engines, and social media that bring people to your website. Looking at these reports you’ll know if your advertising is working okay, if you’re communicating well in social media, and if your company can be easily found in Google.

In the referrer reports, there are four types of traffic sources:

  • Direct entry is when a visitor enters your website by typing your site’s URL into the browser. When someone comes to your site through the direct entry, it means they already know your website. So you can treat direct entries as a gauge of your brand awareness.
  • Websites are when a visitor enters your website by clicking on a link on another website. For example, if you’ve placed a link to your website on medium.com, and somebody clicked on this link, the report will show you the medium.com website as a source. Websites refer also to social media sites, so in this category you will find Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and more.
  • Campaigns are when a visitor enters your website by clicking on a link from a campaign you are running like a Google ad, Facebook ad, newsletter, and more. For campaigns to be seen in reports you need to tag them using the Piwik PRO URL Builder or Google URL Builder.
  • Search engines are when a visitor enters your website by clicking on a link in search engine results from Google, Yahoo, and more. Nowadays, the Google search engine is widely used, so most search engine traffic will come from it.

The referrer reports group and organize the referrers into a few reports.

To access the referrer reports, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Menu > Analytics.
  2. In the left-hand menu, click Referrers and pick the report you’d like to see.

First, we will look at the overview report.

Overview report

The overview report is a good observation point of all your traffic sources. The report will show you:

  • The number of visits coming from different types of referrers.
  • The percentage of visits for each referrer.
  • The number of distinct search engines used by visitors.
  • The number of distinct keywords used by visitors.
  • The number of distinct websites linking to your website.
  • The number of distinct campaigns bringing people to your website.

By looking at the overview report you can easily see the ups and downs of your traffic and spot the sources that may be responsible for an increase or decrease in visits to your website. Knowing which referrers are bringing people to your site you can think about investing money in campaigns, affiliates, bloggers, social media, or search engine optimization.

All referrer report

The all referrer report consists of two reports: the referrer type report and Referrer report. Both of these will give you detailed information about visits coming from different sources.

In each of these reports, you will find several metrics:

  • The number of visits.
  • The number of unique visitors.
  • The number of actions per visit.
  • The average time on website.
  • The bounce rate.

Using these metrics, you can better see how people from a certain source behave on your website. The number of visits and visitors will tell you how many people reached your website thanks to that source. The number of actions and average time on a website will show you how engaged people are on your site. And the bounce rate will show you if people just walk in and out, or pay a longer visit to your site.

By analyzing both the number of visits and the bounce rate for each source type, you can tell how successful you are in bringing people to your website.

If you have lots of direct entries, it means people know your brand and want to reach out to you. Lots of people coming from other websites indicate that your brand has plenty of sites recommending you. Many visitors coming from campaigns show that your campaigns are running and engaging people. And lots of people reaching you thanks to search engines indicate that your website is well described for the search algorithm.

However, if you see a high bounce rate for a referrer you should be worried. It usually shows that people were expecting something seeing an ad, a search result, or a link and once they clicked they arrived at a place that is not meeting their needs.

Tip: In all referrer reports, you will find a keyword phrased as “Keyword not defined”. It happens because Google and other search engines don’t share keywords used by people to reach your website. Therefore, about 90 to 93 percent of keywords will not be defined.

Other reports

In the referrer reports, you will find three other reports: search engine & keyword, website & social, and campaigns. Each of them will show you detailed information about each traffic source.

The search engine & keyword report illustrates the keywords and search engines used by people who reached your website. As we mentioned before, most of the keywords will not be defined, because they are kept secret. And most of your traffic will surely come from the Google search engine, as it’s the undefeated champion among search engines.

The websites & social report shows all websites and social media sites thanks to which people reached your website. It’s a mine of knowledge about websites that recommend your business, bloggers who talk about your product or service, news articles that mentioned your brand, or social media that spread the word about who you are.

The campaign report gathers data about the online campaigns that you are running like paid search, Google Ads, Facebook ads, newsletter, and more. Yet, if you want to see this data in your reports, you need to track it using the Piwik PRO URL Builder or tag them manually. We will explain how to track campaigns in the next chapter. For now, you need to know that this type of report is available and you can use it once you set up a campaign.