A Routine Google Change Turns Search Traffic into Referrer Traffic

Google has changed the way it reports referrer information to users who use the Chrome browser. As a result of this some analytics programs may list search visitors as referrers, implying they came directly from Google without doing a search.

On Monday Night Google posted an update on its Webmaster Blog. It was regarding the Google HTTP Referrer.

It read:

“Starting in April, for browsers with the appropriate support, we will be using the “referrer” meta tag to automatically simplify the referring URL that is sent by the browser when visiting a page linked from an organic search result. This results in a faster time to result and more streamlined experience for the user.”

For those finding it tough to understand, here is a simplified version of it. Referrers are Caller IDs for web browsers that tell websites where someone comes from. If you click on one page to visit the next, the page you were on is passed along as referrer information that can be seen through web analytics tools.

Last year Google blocked referrer information from being leaked by those searching on the engine in case they were signed up and using a secure connection. Google justified the change as necessary to maintain higher levels of privacy. From April this year, Google will begin to use the referrer meta-tag to report a simplified “referrer”. The tag will help override the real referrer.

The change only impacts Chrome and nothing else as only Chrome supports the meta-referrer tag. Users on the Chrome browser will pass along a shorter URL for where they came from.

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