The one thing that you don’t know about PayPal.com and the referral exclusion list

Many businesses use PayPal to accept online payments. But this can create tracking issues in Google Analytics.

Whenever a customer leaves your website to make payment via PayPal and then return to your website, Google Analytics often attribute sales to paypal.com instead of to the original traffic source.

You can often find paypal.com appearing as a top referrer in Google Analytics referral report:

When you add paypal.com to the referral exclusion list, people who arrive at your website from paypal.com, do not trigger a new Google Analytics session and the traffic from the paypal.com is reported as direct traffic by Google Analytics.

So adding paypal.com to the referral exclusion list will not help you track the original referrer.

The best way to track original referrals while using paypal.com is to use one of the direct payment gateways solutions provided by PayPal like: ‘PayPal Payflow Pro‘ or ‘PayPal Payments Pro‘.

When you use direct payment gateway then your customers can complete transaction without leaving your website and Google Analytics do not attribute sales to paypal.com but instead to the original traffic source.

Note: The referral exclusion does not work retroactively.

So any visit/sales attributed to paypal.com before adding paypal.com to the referral exclusion list will still be attributed to paypal.com in GA reports.

Therefore you need to make sure that once you have added a domain to the referral exclusion list, you look at the referral report from the time period when you first implemented referral exclusion.

Other articles on specialized tracking in Google Analytics

  1. Google Analytics Ecommerce Tracking Tutorial
  2. Google Tag Manager Event Tracking Tutorial
  3. Google Analytics Event Tracking Tutorial
  4. Google Analytics Store Visits Tracking Tutorial
  5. Offline Conversion Tracking in Google Analytics – Tutorial
  6. Ecommerce Tracking Google Tag Manager (GTM) – Tutorial
  7. Tracking Virtual Pageviews in Google Tag Manager – Tutorial
  8. Google Tag Manager YouTube Video Tracking
  9. How to unlock not provided keywords in Google Analytics?
  10. Google Analytics Virtual Pageviews Tutorial
  11. Google Analytics and YouTube Integration Tutorial
  12. Google Analytics for Facebook Tutorial
  13. Cross Domain Tracking in Google Analytics – Complete Guide
  14. How to use two Google Analytics codes on one page
  15. Google Analytics Calculated Metrics – Tutorial
  16. Creating your own Google Analytics Tag Auditing System
  17. Google Tag Manager Search Tracking without Query Parameter
  18. Tracking Google Analytics Paypal Referral and other payment gateways
  19. How to Track Phone Calls in Google Analytics – Call Tracking Tutorial
  20. How to track leads in Google Analytics via CRM
  21. Postbacks in Google Analytics Explained
  22. Subscription & Recurring Revenue Analytics in Google Analytics
  23. Track the Impact of Google Analytics Cookie Consent on Website Traffic
  24. Tracking Offline Conversions in Google Ads
  25. Implementing Scroll Tracking via Google Tag Manager
  26. Scroll Depth Tracking in Google Tag Manager – Tutorial
  27. Site Search Tracking In Google Analytics Without Query Parameters
  28. Google Tag Manager Youtube Video Tracking via YouTube Video Trigger
  29. How to Correctly Measure Conversion Date & Time in Google Analytics
  30. Google Analytics Social Tracking – Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and LinkedIn
  31. Cross Domain Tracking in Google Analytics – Complete Guide
  32. Google Analytics Linkedin & Twitter Tracking
  33. Creating Content Group in Google Analytics via tracking code using gtag.js
  34. Google Analytics Site Search Tracking via Query Parameters
  35. Google Analytics Site Search Tracking Tutorial
  36. Creating and Using Site Search Funnel in Google Analytics
  37. Learn to Setup Facebook Pixel Tracking via Google Tag Manager
  38. AMP Google Analytics Tracking – Learn to track AMP pages
  39. Setting up Sales Funnel across websites in Google Analytics
  40. Regex Google Analytics & Google Tag Manager – Tutorial

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Maths and Stats for Web Analytics and Conversion Optimization
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About the Author

Himanshu Sharma

  • Founder, OptimizeSmart.com
  • Over 15 years of experience in digital analytics and marketing
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  • Nominated for Digital Analytics Association Awards for Excellence
  • Runs one of the most popular blogs in the world on digital analytics
  • Consultant to countless small and big businesses over the decade
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