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High number of anonymous refers in Web logs?

Why so many "-" refs

4:28 pm on Jan 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

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When looking through the II web logs for our public site, most of our pages have a very high number of anonymous refers (denoted by a dash in the web logs) For example, a specific page on our site receives only 500 refs from our home page, but another 1,400 anonymous refs. Is this normal? Any idea what the cause of these anonymous refs could be? I highly doubt that a lot of people have these pages bookmarked. Could it be search engine Web bots? We do have 2 servers.. but the backup receives virtually no traffic.
Thanks in advance!
9:04 pm on Jan 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

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It could be typein traffic, usage by people who've decided not to disclose their referrers, click fraud, or a host of other things. Bottom line: the referrer should not be trusted.
2:44 pm on Jan 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

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If your site's likely audience is technical people who for some reason have a world view that makes them think they have to go to the trouble of hiding everything about their activity, or if you are advertising in a way that opens the door for click fraud, then you should worry about those things. But if your site attracts everyday consumers, then there are many other reasons. The big one, in my experience, is this: if a page opens in a fresh window (either because of the way the link was coded or because the person has set their browser to always open clicks in a new window) then the referrer field will be empty for Internet Explorer and a few other browsers. A lot of personalized pages and an increasing number of search sites do this.

Another is --- you'd really be amazed at how many people type in a URL or pull it down from their browser's list of previous sites visited. If you can divide visitors into those who've been to your site before and those who haven't, you might find far more blank referrers for the first group than the second.

There's an item here in this forum that goes into this in more depth.

The referrer field should not be trusted but it should not be ignored either. Like everything in web analytics, there is going to be noise in the data. I would instead say "blank referrer fields should not be trusted." But work with what you have.

[edited by: McElvoy at 2:56 pm (utc) on Jan. 14, 2007]

12:38 pm on Jan 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Also the default settings on software like Norton Security is to not pass referrer strings. You can turn this off on tools like the Zone Alarm firewall as well - all done in the name of privacy.

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