How to track DuckDuckGo as organic referrer in Google Analytics

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Emma Barnes

DuckDuckGo not appearing as an organic referrer in Google Analytics? Fear not, I can help you.

Background

DuckDuckGo is an emerging search engine, making headlines as “the search engine that doesn’t track you”. There has been a large growth in DuckDuckGo traffic since 2013, and as a search engine,  you should receive traffic from it within Google Analytics.

DuckDuckGo Traffic 2013 2016

DuckDuckGo Traffic 2013-2016

You can check what traffic you’re getting from DuckDuckGo in Google analytics by going to the Acquisition report. If you scroll down below the traffic graph to the “source / medium” table you’ll see that DuckDuckGo is listed as a referrer.

DuckDuckGo Referral

DuckDuckGo listed as a referrer

Since DuckDuckGo is a search engine, this traffic should be reported as organic, not referral, and that’s what I’m going to help with in this post.

Problem: Adding DuckDuckGo as a Custom Organic Search Source doesn’t work

The easiest way to solve this type of problem in general (i.e. “I’ve found a search engine that’s tracking as a referrer, can I make it track as organic?”) is to go to Admin > Tracking Info > Organic Search Sources and click +New Search Engine. It works for Dogpile (remember Dogpile anyone..?) and most other search engines, but for some reason doesn’t work for DuckDuckGo.

Custom Search Engine Google Analytics

How to add a custom search engine in Google Analytics

It’s quick to set up a Custom Organic Search Source, with Google providing a good guide alongside a list of their current “default” search engines.

Some search engines that I’ve noticed that are consistently tracked as referrer are:

  • DuckDuckGo.com
  • Search.Yahoo
  • Search.TB.Ask
  • Search.BT
  • Searchlock.com
  • search2.Virginmedia.com
  • Dogpile.com
  • MySearch.com
  • MyPrivateSearch.com
  • Search.alot.com
  • Search.Clearch.org
  • EasySearch.org.uk
  • Search.com
  • SecureSearch.co
  • google.android.googlequicksearchbox
  • images.google
  • startpage.com

Most of these can be added to the list of Custom Search Engines in Google Analytics, but a few will need an advanced filter to properly track their traffic as organic instead of referral.

The Solution: An Advanced Filter

You might be aware that I love using Advanced Filters to solve problems. The advanced filter I want to use is a rule that says “any time you see a referral from DuckDuckGo, change the medium to Organic”.

The settings for this filter are:

Type: Custom (Advanced)
Field A -> Extract A: Referral duckduckgo\.com$ [Note: Use Regexr or a similar Regex tester if you want to include more search engines]
Field B -> Extract B: Campaign Medium referral
Output To -> Constructor: Campaign Medium organic
Field A: Required
Field B: Required
Override Output Field: Yes
Case Sensitive: No

Advanced Referral to Organic Filter Google Analytics

Advanced Filter example

Save your filter, and your DuckDuckGo traffic should come in as organic, not referral.

Google Analytics good practice points

  • Test the filter on a testing profile before moving to main reporting
  • Add an annotation to show when this change came into effect
  • Be aware that your organic traffic will look different year-on-year because of this. To avoid this happening, you may want to use an advanced segment that includes both organic traffic and Duck Duck Go referrals to get a better comparison
  • Regularly review traffic sources in Google Analytics for other examples of misreported traffic

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