What exactly are the "direct " and "unknown" in Sessions by referrer? Where can I track them?

Isabella0924
New Member
1 0 0

My boss want to know where the "DIRECT" & "UNKNOWN" visiters came from and how to track them?

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Replies 4 (4)
Andrew
Shopify Staff
Shopify Staff
1411 145 256

Hi @Isabella0924,

Hyde here from Shopify. Great question!

Storeowners like yourselves may look through their reports and notice that our analytics were unable to determine where a visitor is coming from (ie. who the referrer was).

This could be down to any number of reasons. The visitor could be using a VPN, for example, or is using some other third-party tool that prevents us from collecting information about their referrer.

"Direct" means that the visitor typed the store name or address into Google and went directly to the website, as opposed to being referred to your site by an ad or a link on a third-party site.

Sometimes you might even see a random website that you do not recognize in your reports. This is due to a process called Referrer spam (also known as log spam or referrer bombing). This involves making repeated website requests using a fake referrer URL to the site.

Why does this happen? Well, because by doing this the sender hopes it will create a backlink to their own business and therefore improve the spammer's search engine ranking.

Not to worry though! This kind of spam will not harm your site or compromise your own SEO ranking in any way. All it does is pollute your Analytics, which is harmless if a little bothersome.

You could try leveraging a more dedicated, advanced analytics tool like Google Analytics, as it has more advanced filtering tools and can be set up to filter out information like this on Google Analytics reports. For more information on Shopify's Analytics, we have plenty in our guide right here

I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any further questions. -Hyde

Andrew | Social Care @ Shopify 
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Nadsza
New Member
1 0 1

Hi, 

This explains "Direct", but what is Unknown?

Thanks

Nadia

PeterSkrodolies
New Member
1 0 0

I think, everything before "Direct" in Andrew's post does actually explain what "unknown" is.

Andrew
Shopify Staff
Shopify Staff
1411 145 256

Hi @Nadsza

Sorry, I might not have been as clear as I could have been: when something is "unknown" it is because we were unable to collect information about it to display to you.

I offered a few reasons why this might be the case: the visitor might be using a VPN that masks some of their data like their location and/or browser, or they may be using a third-party tool or browser. Some browsers, for example, hide all information on a browser session, so if a visitor is using one of these browsers we cannot identify anything about them. Or it could be something as innocuous or unremarkable as the visitor's internet timing out mid-session!

I hope that clears matters up for you! Please let me know if there's anything else you'd like to ask or discuss.

Andrew | Social Care @ Shopify 
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