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Commissions attributed to homepage

When you first start tracking, you might notice some historical commissions are attributed to your homepage or "/" on your website.

Here is why that happens and how you can fix it going forward.

Problem: Strict referrer policy

Many affiliate networks will track the the so-called "referrer" in their transaction data. In this case, the referrer should be the URL of the page on your website where the click originated.

This data is sent by the browser to help websites and servers know where their visitors are coming from. Affiliate networks often use this to verify that you are sending traffic from an approved website.

However, after a recent change in Chrome's default referrer policy, the browser no longer sends the full URL by default.

Instead, it only sends your homepage (called the "origin").

And depending on your own, custom-set referrer policy, or if your affiliate links contain rel="noreferrer", it may send no data at all.

This means that your historical commission data is missing a lot of information about exactly where a commission came from.

What about privacy/security?

The reason Chrome changed its referrer policy was to improve privacy and security in the case that a website is transmitting sensitive information via the URL on pages containing external links.

For example, imagine you are on a hotel booking website and land on a confirmation page with a sharable URL. This URL contains your personal details like your name, travel dates, and hotel location. 

Previously, when you clicked on a link on that page to an external website, the full URL of that page would be transmitted to that third party. Meaning that your private URL is now stored and accessible via those server logs.

The upshot? Most content websites do not have these kind of security concerns. For this reason, you can safely send the full referring URL of your posts to your affiliate networks.

How to check if this affects your site

Here's one way to check whether this affects your website.

  1. Open a page on your website that has affiliate links in a new tab
  2. Click any affiliate link on your page
  3. On the advertiser's website, open the Chrome developer tools
  4. Select the "Console" and type document.referrer and press enter
  5. You are affected if you see only your homepage URL and not the full URL of the exact post on your website which referred the click

Important: While you can fix this behavior for future commissions, it is not possible to fix retroactively. One of the reasons Affilimate exists is to help you fill in gaps like this in your affiliate data.

Solution 1: Turn on Smart Labels

The most complete solution is to turn on Smart Labels. Smart Labels add dynamic tracking information to each of your affiliate links, every time the page is loaded.

This dynamic data includes information like the site, the full URL, the link being clicked, and more.

Again, this will fix your page-level attribution for transactions occurring as a result of future clicks, not past ones.

For more: Set up revenue attribution for your website

Solution 2: Change your site's referrer policy

For better native affiliate data, you may want to change your site's referrer policy. You may also be asked to do this by an affiliate network that you belong to.

There are two places where this issue can happen:

  1. Referrer Policy meta tag
  2. Affiliate link attribute rel="noreferrer"

Here are our recommended settings for each of those two locations:

1) Referrer policy meta tag

Place the following meta tag in the <head> of your website, and ensure that you do not have any other meta tags with the name "referrer" to avoid conflicts.

<meta name="referrer" content="no-referrer-when-downgrade">

2) Affiliate link rel attribute

You need to remove rel="noreferrer" from your affiliate links. You can do this manually when creating new links in your posts, and use a search/replace plugin to remove it from old content.

Specifically, your affiliate links may include the attribute rel="nofollow" or rel="sponsored". But noreferrer should not appear between the quotes on your links.

Good examples:

<a href="" rel="nofollow">my affiliate link</a>
<a href="" rel="nofollow sponsored">my affiliate link</a>
<a href="" rel="sponsored">my affiliate link</a>

Bad examples:

<a href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">my affiliate link</a>
<a href="" rel="nofollow sponsored noreferrer">my affiliate link>

Have questions? Contact us at anytime.

Last Updated 2/28/2022

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