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Why is Bing traffic showing as a referral instead of an organic search?

Google does its best to stay on top of the list of current search engines, but occasionally, you may run into one that isn't included in the list. Recently, Microsoft deployed a new search engine, Bing, which is not yet recognized by the UTM tracking code. Currently, in your reports, traffic referred by a Bing search result is shown as Bing.com [referral] instead of bing [organic]. To make this change, additional UTM code is necessary.

Both versions of the Urchin and Google Analytics tracking code (urchin.js and ga.js) do a pretty good job of recognizing traffic from search engines as such instead of categorizing it as just another referral. This is within the tracking code itself, where there is an array of search engine names and the query parameter that is used by that engine to store the search term. For example, a search for "urchin" through Google results in the following URL:


So, for Google, the tracking code contains an entry pairing Google and the URL parameter 'q'.

There are three usual cases for which tracking code must be modified to show the new search engine. Cases 2 and 3 require the change to be made to each page on your website. Of course, "bing" and "q" may be replace with the name of any search engine and its respective search term query parameter.

  1. Urchin.js hosted locally
    If using a locally hosted version of urchin.js, any search engine may be added without having to change the tracking code on each page of your website. Open the locally hosted urchin.js file for editing. Look for the section titled "//-- Auto/Organic Sources and Keywords". Scroll to the end of the section, copy & paste the last line at the end of the section, and increment each of the array indecies by one. Then, replace the value of the first array to "bing" and the second to "q".

    For example, if the section ends like this:

    _uOsr[32]="yam"; _uOkw[32]="k";
    _uOsr[33]="pchome"; _uOkw[33]="q";

    Then, add another line underneath that looks like this:

    _uOsr[34]="bing"; _uOkw[34]="q";

  2. Ga.js hosted by Google
    Add the following line of code before pageTracker._trackPageview;
    pageTracker._addOrganic("bing", "q");

  3. Urchin.js hosted by Google
    Add the following line of code before urchinTracker();

UPDATE (May 17, 2010):

To report Bing traffic as an organic medium type without modifying the UTM code, apply the following filters to your Urchin profiles:

  1. Purpose: Change medium type from "referral" to "organic"
    Type: Advanced
    Field A: utm_source (AUTO)
    Extract A: bing
    Field B: (NONE)
    Output To: utm_medium (AUTO)
    Constructor: organic
    Required: Field A
    Override Output: Yes
  2. Purpose: Extract search term entered by user
    Type: Advanced
    Field A: utm_source (AUTO)
    Extract A: bing
    Field B: request_query (AUTO)
    Extract B: q=(.*?)&
    Output To: utm_term (AUTO)
    Constructor: $B1
    Required: Field A & B
    Override Output: Yes


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