Referral Exclusion List GA4 – What, Why, and How

A website or a page that sends traffic to your site is considered a referrer and is shown in the referral traffic report.  However, sometimes the referral site includes the referral that you don't want to see in your reports because they are not true referrers to your site.

To make sure your data includes only true referrals you can create a set of conditions to identify the domains that you don't want to see in your referral report.

What are the referrals that you should consider removing

  • Your own site
  • Third-party payment proccing sites such as Paypal, stripe, etc.
  • Any websites that are part of your own flow e.g. a domain that is used for managing the account, password recovery, etc. They might be different domains but are part of the user flow on your site.

What is self-referral?

When the traffic is referred to you by your own domain, it is called self-referral. By default, Analytics should identify self-referral and remove it from referring domain list.

The following are considered self-referral

  • The referring website matches the domain of the current page or any of its subdomains
  • The referring websites are linked as cross-domain. When a user goes from one page to the other, the URL will contain the linker parameter _gl.

How to configure the referral exclusion list

To configure unwanted referrals, you need the Editor role on the property.

  1. Go to the Admin section of the property you want to exclude the referrals from.
  2. Scroll down to Data Streams in the Property section.
  3. Click on the "Web" data stream.
  4. Click on Configure tag settings (under Google Tag Section)
  5. In the Settings section, click on Show all (right-hand side)
  6. Click on List unwanted referrals.
  7. Under Include referrals that match ANY of the following conditions:
    • Choose criteria for the match type.
    • Under Domain, enter the domains or the identifier for the domain you want to match
    • To add multiple domains, click on "Add Condition" and add the criteria for the domains.
  8. Click Save.

How does referral exclusion work?

When you add the domains to referral conditions then GA4 evaluates events sent from your website and appends a parameter calledignore_referrer with a value of true to every event that matches the conditions (ignore_referrer=true). This parameter tells GA4 to exclude that referral.

The conditions are evaluated for every web page on which you have the Google tag.

Need help with GA4?

We are here to help you with all your Google Analytics needs. Our team can get you up and running in no time and also train you and your team to save you a lot of time so that you can focus on driving the business outcomes rather than configuring Google Analytics 4.

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