What is a referrer URL?

What is a referrer URL?

  • A referrer URL (or referrer, referring URL) is the URL of the web page that a user came from when they clicked a link to reach the current page. It indicates the source from which the user navigated to the current page. Referrer URLs are commonly used in web analytics to track and analyze the traffic sources of a website.

How Does a Referrer URL Work?

A referrer URL works by providing information about the source from which a user navigated to the current webpage. Here's how it typically works:

  1. User Clicks a Link: When a user clicks on a link on one web page to go to another, the browser includes the URL of the originating page as the referrer in the HTTP request headers.

  2. HTTP Request: When the user clicks the link, their browser sends an HTTP request to the server hosting the destination webpage.

  3. Referrer Information: The HTTP request includes a field called "Referer" (note the different spelling), which contains the URL of the page that the user was on when they clicked the link.

  4. Server-Side Processing: The server of the destination webpage can access and process the referrer information. This is often used for analytics purposes to track where users are coming from.

  5. Analytics and Tracking: Website owners use referrer information to analyze traffic sources. It helps in understanding which websites, search engines, or marketing campaigns are driving users to their sites.

It's important to note that not all requests will include referrer information. For example, if a user types a URL directly into the browser or accesses a page via a bookmark, there may be no referrer information.

While the referrer information can be valuable for analytics, privacy concerns have led to some limitations. Modern browsers may, for privacy reasons, limit the information shared in the referrer, especially when moving from an encrypted (HTTPS) site to a non-encrypted (HTTP) site.

Why Block Referrer URL?

  • Sometimes, websites might want to block users coming from specific URLs.

  • This could be due to spammy traffic, unwanted associations, or irrelevant sources.

  • Blocking referral links can help in managing the quality of traffic and protecting a site's integrity.

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