Rand Fishkin tweeted something curious last night. His blog was featured on the front page of Hacker News and recieved over 25,000 visits. Nice.
But all the traffic should up as direct in Google Analytics.
The reason for this? HN is forcing https and is no longer passing referral data. This is similar to Google’s move to SSL that created the (not provided) fiasco.
Sad to see a huge site with as much influence as HN block all referral data. It’s harmful to them as there’s no way to quantify the impact of being on the front page of Hacker News anymore. Gone will be all the “Here’s what being on the front page of HN looks like” posts. I also worry that sites like Reddit might be next.
A lot of sites are already losing around 50% of their search data with (not provided) and browsers with SSL search enabled by default. There’s not going to be any referral data left if large sites keep moving to https.