In case you’re wondering whether 301 redirects preserve the referrer information or not and how this may affect Google Analytic’s referrer information, I’ll show you a simple example.
So pretty much what I did was I did a Google search for clothes and found some ads on the right hand side. I used firebug to extract the destination URL as I didn’t want to inflate their costs because I’m just doing an example. What I look for are obvious tracking URLs that track and monitor search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns such as DART (Double Click).
You can also figure this one out by seeing the domain of the URL. If this is different to the display URL, most likely this is a tracking URL because Google Adwords has enforced the policy that the destination and display URL must be the same (it’s ok to use tracking URLs though as long as you land on the same domain as the display URL).
So the URL I found was http://tsw0.com/2625/38659 . By typing this directly to your browser address bar, you’ll see that the referrer is empty (otherwise direct).
Using firebug, you’ll see that the referrer information is empty. This will be registered as direct in Google Analytics. Now when I actually click on the ad,
you’ll see that the referrer information shows my search for clothes on Google AU. This will be registered as google/organic in Google Analytics.