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 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 to 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.

Related Article: Tracking true referrals in Google Analytics when using PayPal and other payment gateways

Other Articles on Specialised Tracking in Google Analytics

  1. Google Analytics Recurring Revenue and Subscriptions Tracking Guide
  2. How to track the impact of cookie consent on website traffic in Google Analytics
  3. Phone Call Tracking in Google Analytics and Beyond
  4. Scroll Tracking via Scroll Depth Trigger in Google Tag Manager
  5. Video Tracking via YouTube Video Trigger In Google Tag Manager
  6. Calculated Metrics in Google Analytics – Complete Guide
  7. The one thing that you don’t know about PayPal.com and the referral exclusion list
  8. Introduction to Postbacks in Google Analytics
  9. Creating Content Group in Google Analytics via tracking code using gtag.js
  10. Tracking Site Search without Query Parameter in Google Tag Manager
  11. Setting Up Site Search Tracking for POST based search engines in Google Analytics
  12. Tracking Site Search for GET-Based Search Engines in Google Analytics
  13. Understanding site search tracking in Google Analytics
  14. Tracking Virtual Pageviews in Google Tag Manager – Complete Guide
  15. Creating and using Site Search Funnel in Google Analytics
  16. Learn to Setup Facebook Pixel Tracking via Google Tag Manager
  17. How to use Keyword Hero to reveal Not Provided keywords in Google Analytics
  18. Guide to Event Tracking via Google Tag Manager
  19. Learn to track Qualified and Won leads in Google Analytics
  20. Creating your own Google Analytics Tag Auditing System
  21. Using multiple Google Analytics tracking codes on web pages
  22. Guide to Offline Conversion Tracking in Google Analytics
  23. Google Analytics and YouTube Integration Guide
  24. Complete Guide to Google Analytics for Facebook
  25. Tracking true referrals in Google Analytics when using PayPal and other payment gateways
  26. Virtual pageviews in Google Analytics – Complete Guide
  27. YouTube Video tracking via Google Tag Manager
  28. Implementing E-Commerce Tracking via Google Tag Manager
  29. Event Tracking in Google Analytics – Complete Guide
  30. E-Commerce Tracking in Google Analytics – Complete Guide
  31. Google Analytics Cross Domain Tracking Explained Like Never Before
  32. Google Analytics Social Tracking – Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and LinkedIn
  33. Setting up & Tracking AMP Pages in Google Analytics
  34. Setting up Sales Funnel across websites in Google Analytics
  35. Using Data Visualization to analyze the SEO Performance
  36. Tracking offline conversions in Google Adwords
  37. How to Correctly Measure Conversion Date & Time in Google Analytics
  38. Tracking Twitter and Linkedin Social Interactions in Google Analytics
  39. Implementing Scroll Tracking via Google Tag Manager
  40. Phone Call Tracking and ROI calculations – Champion’s Guide
  41. Google Analytics Cross Domain Tracking (ga.js)
  42. Open Graph Protocol for Facebook Explained with Examples

Learn about the Google Analytics Usage Trends Tool

The Google Analytics usage trend is a new tool which is used to visualise trends in your Google Analytics data and to perform trend analysis.


Do you want to Learn Web Analytics in 8 Weeks?

  • Learn and Master Web Analytics, Conversion Optimization & Google Analytics from Industry Expert in 8 weeks.
  • Lifetime access to the course + Lifelong FREE course updates.
  • New study material added every few months (lifelong learning).
  • Up to date training material.
  • Most exhaustive course on Google Analytics on the internet.
  • Hundreds of Assessments to test your learning.
  • Your 24/7, 365 days a year reference source.
  • Learn at your own pace and from any place.

Take your Analytics knowledge to the next level. Checkout my Best Selling Books on Amazon

Maths and Stats for Web Analytics and Conversion Optimization
This expert guide will teach you how to leverage the knowledge of maths and statistics in order to accurately interpret data and take actions, which can quickly improve the bottom-line of your online business.

Master the Essentials of Email Marketing Analytics
This book focuses solely on the ‘analytics’ that power your email marketing optimization program and will help you dramatically reduce your cost per acquisition and increase marketing ROI by tracking the performance of the various KPIs and metrics used for email marketing.

Attribution Modelling in Google Analytics and Beyond
Attribution modelling is the process of determining the most effective marketing channels for investment. This book has been written to help you implement attribution modelling. It will teach you how to leverage the knowledge of attribution modelling in order to allocate marketing budget and understand buying behaviour.

Himanshu Sharma

Certified web analyst and founder of OptimizeSmart.com

My name is Himanshu Sharma and I help businesses find and fix their Google Analytics and conversion issues. If you have any questions or comments please contact me.

  • Over eleven years' experience in SEO, PPC and web analytics
  • Google Analytics certified
  • Google AdWords certified
  • Nominated for Digital Analytics Association Award for Excellence
  • Bachelors degree in Internet Science
  • Founder of OptimizeSmart.com and EventEducation.com

I am also the author of three books:

error: Alert: Content is protected !!