Referrer logging is used to allow web servers and websites to identify where people are visiting their website for marketing or security purposes. You can find out which search engine they used to find your site and whether your customer came from a site with your website link. It is basically the URL of the previous webpage from which your link was followed, the referring URL.
By default, most hosting accounts don’t include referrer logs but may be subscribed for an extra monthly fee. If your web host does not provide a graphic report of your log files, you can still view the referrer logs for your website by logging into the host server using free or low-cost FTP software, like these:
- FTP Explorer: http://www.ftpx.com/
- SmartFTP: http://www.smartftp.com/
- FTP Voyager: http://www.ftpvoyager.com/
The log file is available on your web server which can be downloaded into your computer later. You can use a log analysis tool, like those mentioned below, to create a graphic report from your log files so that the files are easier to understand.
- Abacre Advanced Log Analyzer http://www.abacre.com/ala/
- Referrer Soft http://www.softplatz.com/software/referrer/
- Log Analyzer http://www.loganalyzer.net
You can view the files using Word or WordPad files even if you don’t have the right tool. This information is very crucial to your business and marketing plans and should not be neglected.
Another option is to create a Google account and subscribe to Google Analytics. You will have access to all kinds of information. We setup accounts with automatic reports emailed monthly.
In addition to identifying the search engine or linked site from where your visitor arrived, referrer logs can also tell you what keywords or keyword phrases your client used for searching.
At times, the referring link sits behind a secure website. If so and the link points to anywhere except another secure website or webpage, then the referrer field is not sent.
Recent changes to website coding, specifically HTML5, allows programmers and website owners to support the attribute/value rel = “noreferrer” in order to instruct the search engines not to send a referrer. This can help with blog comment spamming by telling Google not give the link credit.