Yahoo Search as a Referral

A quick tip for those who in analytics trying to attribute conversions to channels like organic search, paid search, referral and the dreaded direct sources. Starting in January of 2014 (according to some sources) Yahoo secure search started impacting the referring source of your traffic in Google Analytics and other reporting software. I do not expect your total traffic or visitor numbers would be affected much by this due to small total traffic historically. What is important here though is the impact on your conversion rates, cost per acquisition and other more important metrics. If you sell big ticket items and have only a handful of conversion daily on a good day, then getting even a few conversions attributed incorrectly can throw your numbers off.

Traffic coming from, and converting from, Yahoo search will now come up as in Analytics and be listed as a referral and not organic search traffic. I have read other reports of this being shown as a direct source, but as you can see in the image it is not always the case.

According to Aaron Wall’s Blog on the subject:

It looks like Yahoo! is now passing about 36% of their search traffic through an internal redirect which strips keyword referral data. The redirect is still used & does not pass keyword information to the publisher website, even if the site which is being linked to is secured.


One possible fix is to set yourself a reminder in one of your Analytics dashboards. Add a new widget to your dashboard as shown in this image to catch those cases.


This way when one does convert you can adjust your source numbers for a more accurate report of ROI for the channels affected. If you look at the first 3 months of 2014 now that you have this widget in place you may be shocked to see how many conversions and hits have already been misrepresented by not catching this sooner.

Again, sites like this and this have reported the traffic as showing up as direct, but it clearly shows as a referral in Google Analytics.

About author

Todd Kron

of Sellaholics is a veteran of Analytics, PPC, Display, video, UX, conversion optimization, affiliate programs, web design and web programming since 2002. My background includes affiliate sales to 6 figures, director of a web design agency, and currently the digital manager for a leading energy company located in Huntersville, NC. From search to sale 1000 different ways is my background. Sellaholics is a Google Partner Agency.