How to get rid of PayPal referrals in Google Analytics

Occasionally you may find that if users are paying by PayPal (or any other pay provider where users are taken offsite to pay, for example Sage Pay) the revenue in Google Analytics gets attributed to rather than to the source/medium the session originated from.  This annoying little issue will throw off reporting and particularly if you’re investing in digital marketing campaigns like eCommerce SEO campaigns you will want to accurately measure the results of this work.

How to find if PayPal is coming through as a referral

You can check if this is happening by going to Acquistion > All Traffic > Source/Medium and searching for “PayPal”.  If it is happening you will see a very high eCommerce rate from / referrer, for example:


The Fix

If you are using Universal Google Analytics it is a very simple fix, you need to head to Admin > Property > Tracking Info > Referring Exclusion List:

the fix

Once here you simply add as a domain to exclude:

excluded domain

How do I correct historic data?

The problem is that Google Analytics is not giving SEO and/or PPC all the revenue it is actually driving, it is attributing some of the revenue to, however you can get the exact revenue figures by heading to Conversion > Multi-Channel Funnels > Top Conversion Paths, and select source/medium as the primary dimension and filter by “PayPal”:

historic data

Export this data and attribute the revenue is getting to the previous source /medium, and to the existing revenue figure for PPC and/or SEO. For example, the revenue in line 1 would go to PPC, and the revenue in line 2 to SEO and the revenue in line 8 to direct.

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About the author: James Marshall

James is Head of Paid Media at ThoughtShift working in Paid Media since 2011, having previously worked at digital marketing agencies and as an in-house digital specialist. He has worked for household brands such as Panasonic, Saga, the AA and STA Travel.

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