How to Uncover (Direct/None) Referral Traffic in Google Analytics


Have you noticed in your client’s Google Analytics that certain sources are not being identified clearly in Source traffic? One of the best ways to alleviate this issue is to use URL Parameters modifiers to essentially call out where the traffic is coming from. This helps GA tag the traffic coming in and sorting it into its own specific source, which allows you to identify and confirm the referral source.


This is an issue I know most marketers are aware of as (Direct/None) traffic can be a number of things. It’s not very likely that every one of your customers is typing in the long, specific URL every single time though. What’s more likely is that Google doesn’t know exactly how to sort the traffic or identify where it’s coming from.

I recently identified this issue for a website who’s Facebook tracking wasn’t firing and Analytics wasn’t reporting much referral traffic coming from Facebook, despite plenty of paid ad clicks. So looking through GA you’re likely to notice a large portion of traffic from Direct/None and while it’s unlikely to ever uncover 100% of the unknown traffic, you can tag URL’s from traffic that you know you’re driving, to help close the loop.

So how do you accomplish this? Below are a few quick steps to use URL Parameters to tag your traffic for GA to more easily sort. Note, this specific example was for tagging Facebook referral traffic.

1.) Identify that your ad traffic definitely isn’t being reported accurately in Google Analytics.

2.) Pull the URL of wherever you are driving traffic (i.e.

3.) In the case of Facebook, you’ll add the following URL Parameter at the end of the url:

?source=facebook (i.e.

4.) Copy and paste that URL into your browser to make sure it doesn’t cause any errors or unexpected reroutes.

5.) After sufficient clicks on your ad using this URL Parameter, go into your Google Analytics > Behavior > Content > All Pages. This will allow you to see what pages all of your users are landing on.

6.) Using the URL Parameter you set up earlier you can identify that specific landing page (, which you’ve tagged as coming from a specific source. In this case it’s a Facebook ad, so GA will sort out that traffic and label it with the new URL so you can easily identify this traffic is in fact coming from your Facebook ad — breaking it out of the ambiguous Direct distinction.

You’ve now uncovered your referral traffic out of (Direct/None) in Google Analytics!




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