Organic search clicks attributed to campaigns when preceded by campaign click

I have Matomo configured to track each campaign as a new visit. This works great.


My question is regarding how Matomo treats a visitor session when they first visit the site via a campaign, and then moments later visit the site from, say, an organic search result.

For example, someone searches in Google for “blue helmets” and they see ads that my company has created at the top of the search results, but they also see organic search results beneath, also pointing to my company. If they click on the ad, they will be redirected to my site with all the various campaign parameters in the URL. Matomo tracks this as a unique visit, and as a campaign hit. Great. However, if that user sees the product and are not happy with it, they can press the back button to return to the search results page. Now, they decide to click on a search result from the organic results (not the ads), and are then directed to another page on my site. Matomo DOES NOT treat this as another visit. In other words, Matomo will attribute to that prior campaign click the organic search result they just clicked, instead of creating a new visit, which means that the organic search result click was incorrectly attributed to the campaign as the responsible driver for that traffic. This is no good from a marketing perspective, as the numbers that help determine the effectiveness of a campaign are inaccurate.

Is this a bug?

The use case I described does not seem overly unique, and at face value seems like an important requirement if accurate analytics are the goal, so I’m wondering whether there’s a configuration I overlooked, or whether this is by design, or a bug.

I don’t know if the below documentation I’ve quoted applies to the above, but some clarification would help.

Matomo only records 1 referer by visit, which means that only the first referer used to access the website will be recorded.
If you search for a keyword in a search engine, click on your website in the search engine results, and land on a page with the Matomo tracker, you may expect to see the keyword in your Matomo reports.
However, if you visited your website less than 30 minutes ago, Matomo will recognize you as an known visitor on the website, will record your page view, but will not update your visit referer. Matomo only record the first referer of a visit. When testing Matomo and search engine detection, make sure you make the test more than 30 minutes after your last page view on your website.


Based on further reading, as I’m treating Google Analytics as the baseline to compare (which is probably what a lot of Matomo users do), Google Analytics would treat the above described scenarios as individual campaigns. A click on a Google search result organic link will cause Google Analytics to start a new visit, even if the previous click was a click to an ad from that same search result: