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How do I not let my website show up on 'Incoming Links' sections in a website's stats page?
March 23, 2011 3:44 AM   Subscribe

I'm setting up a personal blog/ site and need some advice on not exposing my blog's URL through outgoing links.

I have a blog. On its stats page, I can see a section labelled 'Incoming Links', where I see other websites which have links to my own and have had people click through them to my site.
In particular cases, I wish to include links on my own website which link to external websites, but I do not want my website to show up on their 'Incoming Links' in their stats pages. How can I achieve this?
posted by WalterMitty to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Untested, but I wonder if using a URL shortened on the links would help? Bit.ly for example
posted by backwards guitar at 4:03 AM on March 23, 2011


Bitly does a 301 redirect. I'm guessing that the referrer header for the redirected request is still going to include the original blog URL, although I haven't checked.
posted by pharm at 4:13 AM on March 23, 2011


The only way would be via some sort of redirect that changes the referral header. It shouldn't be hard to roll your own but the real question is why you would want to do this. If you can answer that, we might be able to solve your problem better.
posted by turkeyphant at 4:18 AM on March 23, 2011


If you are talking about the WordPress wp-admin page, this is not how the incoming links section works. They use a Google-provided service that maintains a global list of which blogs link to what, without relying on anyone actually following the links. If you want to keep your blog totally private then you will have to disable search engines using robots.txt or the special meta headers.
posted by AndrewStephens at 4:21 AM on March 23, 2011


Can't think of an easy solution here--referrers are sent by the browser so you have little control over what is sent to the target of the link.

backwards guitar does have a good idea, to move your links through a proxy--but it doesn't look like bit.ly will work. bit.ly does pass the referrer through to the target. (As pharm mentions.)

anonym.to seems to do what you want, although it throws up an Interstitial webpage. (anonym.to returns a 200 from the link and then redirects using a refresh metatag.) hidemyass.com seems to work the same way.

Thinking maybe it's tricky to remove the referrer from a 301. Retaining the referrer information is probably a feature--most people would want to have it passed on a 301.
posted by sexymofo at 4:34 AM on March 23, 2011


The most basic way to do this is put all your links as plain text URLs, for example this:
http://metafilter.com
instead of this:
MetaFilter
Obviously this inconveniences your readers somewhat though.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:43 AM on March 23, 2011


Yeah, link shorteners won't do it. For example, click on this bit.ly shortened link and look at the Referer field, and it should be the URL of this thread at ask.metafilter.com.

The only way to pull this off is to do a HTML redirect not a HTTP redirect, which means a short annoying interstitial page, for example like this. If you look at the source of that page it's using a http-equiv="refresh" meta tag with a delay of 1 second. You could improve on the user experience by making that 0 seconds, but that service wants the brief opportunity to advertise their proxy service. You could buy a second domain (just random nonsense characters) and make your own redirect service that shows an empty page with a delay of 0 and it would be almost indistinguishable from a true HTTP 30x redirect.
posted by Rhomboid at 4:52 AM on March 23, 2011


There's a technique to do a double meta refresh that blanks the referral header, but that can look suspicious on incoming logs (the blank) if people are looking at them and have reason to be curious about such a thing. Or as mentioned above there are referral sites that spoof your outgoing links for you, which can look just as suspect as blank referrals.

I guess it's possible this has a legitimate purpose behind it so I won't judge.
posted by empyrean at 5:01 AM on March 23, 2011


If you bought another domain name, you could setup your own redirector using javascript or something, in order to obscure the link. That would also stop any kind of spidering.
posted by delmoi at 5:18 AM on March 23, 2011


If you're using firefox, you can simply change a setting to prevent it from sending Referrer headers.
posted by James Scott-Brown at 6:16 AM on March 23, 2011


Referrer links are sent by the web browser visiting your website; it's not really in your control. I'm seconding the "rethink why you want to avoid this" -- referrers are the least of your trouble. Google is going to 'spider' your website, and will let people see everything on your site with a link like site:metafilter.com. And, if Google has spidered your site, people can do a search like link:metafilter.com and find everybody that's linking to them, even if it didn't show up in the referrer logs. There's no "hiding" things on the internet - you have to make things completely inaccessible in order to block people from finding your website. Your blogging software likely has a plugin or a setting to password-protect pages, so use that.
posted by AzraelBrown at 6:35 AM on March 23, 2011


Seconding AndrewStephens... in addition to worry about the referral page, you'll also need to worry about search engines like google blog search, which is where WordPress gets its links.
posted by toomuchpete at 7:01 AM on March 23, 2011


You can use Referer.us to suppress referral headers. You don't even need to use the link generator on that page, as the URLs all use a simple format so you can create new links manually (or automate through your CMS). I've tried a few different URLs and the redirection works, though I haven't confirmed that headers are actually suppressed by this service.

Downsides: All your URLs will have "http://referer.us/" in them, which might look strange to your users. This could be masked by piping every link through a URL shortener first. Also, if referer.us goes down, your links will all be broken — you'd be dependent on the third-party service.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 8:09 AM on March 23, 2011


If you've got a provider where you can take advantage of HTTPS, browsers won't report the Referrer value. The meta-refresh Rhomboid posted is a decent way to do it but requires an intermediary page. You can also javascript up document.location and do the link that way or otherwise drive control via Javascript. Strange that the 301 redirect persists the referrer. We use a simple gateway mechanism that uses referrer and lord help me, the number of things that -do- break it.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:56 PM on March 23, 2011


Thanks for the replies, I think I've gotten what I need.
posted by WalterMitty at 1:16 AM on March 24, 2011


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