Top Referrers

Your top referrers report shows where the traffic to your website is coming from. You can use it to understand which marketing/promotional efforts are working well and which ones aren’t:

Referrers for plausible.io

How it works

There are two distinct ways that Plausible collects the referrer for a visitor.

Manual: link tagging

Whenever you post a link online or send it to someone, you can choose to add a special query parameter to the link. When the ?ref=<value> query parameter is present, Plausible will show it as the referrer source.

Both source and utm_source query parameters are also valid

For example, let's say you're running a digital advertising campaign. Your ad will be shown to visitors on different websites, so with the default behaviour these would all show up as distinct referrer sources in Plausible.

Instead, you want to group referrals from this advertising campaign together. The way you can do that is by changing the link in the advertising campaign to include ?ref=<advertiser-name>. Now, all referrals from this campaign are linked together and shown as one referral source in Plausible.

Automatic: the referer header

When someone lands on your website without the special query parameter defined, we fall back to the referer header (the HTTP header is misspelled with one r for historical reasons).

There are some limitations and fall-backs with using the referer header for various historical and technical reasons. Not every request from a browser will have the referrer specified, and it’s not always accurate. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of problems with the header:

  • Whenever someone is moving from http to https or vice versa, the referer header is dropped

  • Facebook never sends the post or comment id where someone clicked. Their referer only includes the fact that the visitor came from Facebook.

  • Twitter sets the referrer to their link shortener, not the tweet that brought the traffic.

  • Google does not include the search keywords in the referrer.