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Let’s Examine the Meta Referrer Tag

It’s been two short years since Google announced that SSL-secured sites would receive a ranking boost in its search results. While the algorithm change only affects about 1% of queries worldwide, it still set webmasters scrambling to implement SSL certificates wherever possible.

With this change, many of us in the SEO world saw a drastic change in the way data was reported in Google Analytics. Previously, we could see what sites were sending referral traffic – with this change, however, SSL-enabled sites are “hidden” from Google Analytics referral data. Now, when an HTTPS site sends traffic to a non-HTTPS site, the referral data is lost.

Did you know there is a way to prevent this from happening? A little-known tag, called the Meta Referrer tag, can pass along your referrer data even if your site is SSL secured. Great!  How do you implement it?  It’s simple!

<meta name="referrer" content="origin">

Simply place that snippet in the header of any page you want to pass along referring information for.  Keep in mind, this will only send along your domain name – not the full URL of the page.  So, http://example.com/page.html would simply send http://example.com as the referrer.

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