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

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.


Take your knowledge of Web Analytics to the next level. Checkout my web analytics training course.

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 !!