Does your Google Analytics Acquisition report show “Direct / None” traffic as a top source of referral traffic? If so, you likely have improperly configured Google Analytics.

 

Solution 1 – Referral Exclusion List

To solve the problem, simply add your ROOT domain to the Referral Exclusion list in ADMIN > PROPERTY > TRACKING INFO:

 

If your domain is www.mydomain.com, you want to enter mydomain.com (the ROOT domain) to the domain exclusion list:

Why does this work?

Each time your website redirects a user to an internal link with a different subdomain or ssl level, you will get a new GA analytics. GA will recognize the same user, but the redirect will create a new session.

For example:

Redirect from www.mydomain.com to mydomain.com will create a new session. The original session will have the proper referrer, but the new session will show up as a “Direct/None” referrer.

By adding your root domain to the domain exclusion list, an internal redirect will never generate a new referrer or new session. You will be able to track the user from the original session.

One last note: even after you make the changes, it can take a long time to see results. Any users who have already been redirected will still have their “Direct/None” referrer. New traffic will not have the problem.

Solution 2 – One More Thing to Check

One more thing: if your site is not https/ssl for 100% of connections, you will also likely have a high number “Direct/None” referrers.

Why? The specification for the HTTP protocol and therefore the default behavior of popular web browsers, like Chrome, is to NOT forward a referrer if the secure status is downgraded on the referral.

That means, if your user is being referred from an HTTPS secure site to your non-HTTPS insecure site, Chrome will NOT include a referrer in the request header. Analytics will report that user as a “direct/none” referrer. For more information, read this article.