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why is traffic medium for images.google.xxx reported as referrer, rather than organic?

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why is traffic medium for images.google.xxx reported as referrer, rather than organic? davidfree 9/27/09 1:35 PM
hi there,
this issue has been raised before (and also HOW to track the keywords), but I cannot understand just WHY the image-search is treated differently from the "normal" search.

I can understand, that from Google News there can be referrer traffic (as people click on the homepage of news.google.xxx)...

But with images?

There is no homepage with lots of images!

People search actively for terms, then click on a picture....

So:
- why referrer traffic and not organic?
- why no easy way to see keywords?

Any ideas out there?

And the advanced question:

if I DID define images.google.xxx as a search engine in the setup file, would I THEN receive keyword/organic data?
Re: why is traffic medium for images.google.xxx reported as referrer, rather than organic? davidfree 9/27/09 2:04 PM
BTW, the definition in the help section article (see below) is not satisfactory to me... What does google[referral] mean? Not all referrals from Google.com domains come through organic search or AdWords ad listings. Referrals may come from a variety of sources, including Google Groups posts, base.google.com listings, or static pages on related Google sites. Such visits are tagged as [referral] instead of [organic] or [cpc]. With images (as I stated above) it´s not a post, listing, or static page! It´s a search!
Re: why is traffic medium for images.google.xxx reported as referrer, rather than organic? JohnPhilipGreen 10/22/09 4:30 PM
I agree... I would be curious to hear a better rationale as well. Our site gets a LOT of google image search traffic but I have no visibility into what people are searching for through GA.

Best I can do is a Custom Segment and see what the top landing pages are. Maybe that will help you in a small way.
Re: why is traffic medium for images.google.xxx reported as referrer, rather than organic? Sam563 4/13/10 9:10 AM
I'd also be interested in an answer. Did anyone try adding images.google.xxx as a search engine?
Re: why is traffic medium for images.google.xxx reported as referrer, rather than organic? JezC 4/26/10 5:46 AM
See Brain Clifton's very helpful book (about be revised to the second edition) and his web site, which includes scripts to identify maps.google.com, local search engines, etc. 
Re: why is traffic medium for images.google.xxx reported as referrer, rather than organic? Blast Advanced Media 8/3/11 12:52 PM

Brian Clifton's resources are great for this too. It just depends on what your end goal is. To address your specific question and get the insights you are after you need to alter your ga-track.js file. Add the script below in between the setAccount and trackPageview in order to change the google image search to organic and gain visibility into the keywords. The basic reason that Google doesn't do this automatically is the fact that there are too many sources to manage. So they give you the power to override this yourself if you so choose. Remember Google Analytics can be a very powerful tool but it is extremely basic out of the box. People forget that GA is meant to be customized just like all other Analytics tools.  

var ref = document.referrer; 
if ((ref.search(/imgres\?imgurl/) != -1) && (ref.search(/prev/) != 
-1)) 

  var regex = new RegExp("\.google\.([^\/]+).*&prev=([^&]+)"); 
  var match = regex.exec(ref); 

  _gaq.push( 
    ['_setReferrerOverride', 'http://images.google.' + match[1] + 
unescape(match[2])], 
    ['_addOrganic', 'images.google', 'q', true] 
  ); 


I recommend testing this out on a test account/profile first so you don't lose any data if something goes wrong. Big shot out to Andre from Traffic4U for providing this helpful script.
Re: why is traffic medium for images.google.xxx reported as referrer, rather than organic? Blast Advanced Media 8/3/11 2:40 PM
Okay, so we were notified via Rachaell regarding another change in how image search is being handled by Google Analytics. Upon investigation it appears that the code provided above no longer works due to changes in the URL parameters that Google Image Search is passing. Our team has re-engineered this code to work with the new changes. Be aware that we have tested it using a Proxy on a live site but it has not been used in production yet. So please test before you deploy live. 

Here is the revised script to track all Google Image Search in aggregate:

//handle google images referrer
var ref = document.referrer; 
if ((ref.search(/google.*imgres/) != -1)) { 
  var regex = new RegExp("\.google\.([^\/]+)(.*)"); 
  var match = regex.exec(ref); 
  _gaq.push( 
    ['_setReferrerOverride', 'http://images.google.' + match[1] + 
unescape(match[2])], 
    ['_addOrganic', 'images.google', 'q', true] 
  ); 

Remember that this needs to be executed above the _trackPageview.

If you want to track Google Image Search by country domain modify the addOrganic like this:

['_addOrganic', 'images.google' + match[1], 'q', true] 

We are implementing this on some sites this week. Let us know if anyone uses this with success or has any additional questions.

Regards,
Kayden
Re: why is traffic medium for images.google.xxx reported as referrer, rather than organic? davidfree 8/3/11 11:23 PM
Well, the good news is that (in at least in 1 of my GA account), the image traffic now appears as part of the Search Engine Traffic.... And keywords are shown (as I suggested above).
You still need a filter to extract the exact referrer and an advanced segment to only show the image traffic, though (as there is no subdomain like images.google.x any more, but only the referrer type google.com/....imgres/....)

I am still happy with the result...
Re: why is traffic medium for images.google.xxx reported as referrer, rather than organic? DevinXX 8/25/11 10:32 PM
I use the follow code, but don't work.

//handle google images referrer
var ref = document.referrer;
if ((ref.search(/google.*imgres/) != -1)) {
  var regex = new RegExp("\.google\.([^\/]+)(.*)");
  var match = regex.exec(ref);
  _gaq.push(
    ['_setReferrerOverride', 'http://images.google.' + match[1] +
unescape(match[2])],
    ['_addOrganic', 'images.google', 'q', true]
  );
}

I search a keyword in google images, click the result to enter my site.  A few hours later, I find the keyword from source "google" not from "images.google" in my ga report.  There is no source "images.google".

Who can tell me any solution ?
Re: why is traffic medium for images.google.xxx reported as referrer, rather than organic? Blast Advanced Media 8/26/11 6:48 AM
Hi DevinXX,

Please point us to your website so that we can investigate your implementation.


Thanks,
Joe
Re: why is traffic medium for images.google.xxx reported as referrer, rather than organic? Blast Advanced Media 8/26/11 1:39 PM
Hi DevinXX,

Try setting your custom variable (_setCustomVar) after this block of code.  That should fix it.


Thanks,
Joe
Re: why is traffic medium for images.google.xxx reported as referrer, rather than organic? DevinXX 8/26/11 7:09 PM
Hi Joe,

You are great.
Finally I see the souce "images.google",  when I placed the  _setCustomVar after this code block.
Now it work well.  
Thank you very much.