As we noted a couple days ago, it is possible to track the referrals coming in to your site from G+, but it’s not straightforward. Yesterday, Google made it much more straightforward.
When you click on a link now in G+, it redirects it through the plus.google.com domain. Why? Because Google+ uses HTTPS to be more secure, but that strips referrer information that would normally be passed to sites like TechCrunch. So they have to redirect to another non-HTTPS domain to pass that data. Previously, it was simply through a google.com/url domain (which we were tracking). Now it’s a plus.google.com domain — much easier to track for a casual analytics user.
And sure enough, as of yesterday, plus.google.com is showing up as a referrer to TechCrunch — and yes, a big one despite us not actively using it to send out articles just yet (and again, the limited number of users).
Facebook does a similar redirect to ensure that the pageviews they’re sending others’ way are correctly counted. Others, like Twitter, do not generally do this, which likely makes their sharing stats appear lower than they actually are.
There is real opportunity for Google to leap ahead on the sharing analytics front.
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