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Feb072019

Google Search Console to Unify Search Traffic Data on Canonical URLs

Google has announced a number of changes to how it reports search data within Google Search Console.

The update will bring changes to how performance reports in Search Console count metrics, says Google.

Instead of using the exact URL, it will soon begin consolidating a website’s search traffic data on canonical URLs.

At present, for a website with mobile and desktop versions on multiple properties, Google reports the search data for each property in different performance reports.

Soon, Search Console will unify data of a website from these different properties into a single canonical URL, rather than the URL referred to by Google Search.

And, the page metrics will now be credited to a Google-selected canonical URL, rather than to the exact URL, a user is referred to by Google Search.

Google said “to help unify your data, Search Console will soon begin assigning search metrics to the (Google-selected) canonical URL, rather than the URL referred to by Google Search.”

This unification of a site’s search data offers benefits including:

  • Ability to view all data for a single piece of content into one property.
  • Data from AMP and mobile pages will also end up showing as one property.
  • Improvements to the AMP and Mobile-Friendly reports will now show impressions and issues in the same property.

This transition of all performance data to one single property will be done on April 10, 2019.

And, this unified data will be pre-populated from January 2018.

During the transition, Google will let users see both old and new reports for a few weeks, so they can learn the impact of the change and differences, as shown in the following example report:

Google Search Console Unified Search Traffic Data on Canonical URLs

Google highlights how this change will affect search data:

  • At individual URL level, users will see a traffic shift from any non-canonical (duplicate) URLs to the canonical URL.
  • At the property level, users will see data from the alternate property shifted to the “canonical property”.
  • AMP property traffic will drop to “zero” in most cases.
  • For most users, most property-level data will shift to one property.
  • Users can still filter data by device, search appearance like AMP, country, and other dimensions without losing information about traffic.

In order to prepare for this traffic change, Google advises webmasters to modify any custom traffic report created by them.

Also, it said to review user access rights to the right reports, for example “do new users need to be added to canonical property,” Or “existing users be continue to access non-canonical properties.”

To know more about what Google considers a canonical URL for a particular URL, users can can use the URL Inspection tool.

Lastly, to save old legacy traffic data, users can export it from either the Performance report’s “Export Data” button, or use the Search Console API.

The Search Console API will change to a canonical data on April 10, 2019.

Google also provided a few before and after the traffic change examples, both on the total traffic (see the above image), individual page traffic and mobile traffic overview:

The image below shows how the traffic splitted between canonical and alternate pages are now all attributed to canonical URL:

Google Search Console Performance Report Individual page traffic Unified on Canonical URL

Here is a screenshot of mobile traffic data m. property vs. canonical property:

Google Search Console Performance Report Mobile Traffic Unified on Canonical URL

Update: Google has now rolled out the preview of the unified traffic data feature, confirmed John Mueller, Google Webmaster Trends Analysts.

Responding to a tweet, Muller said they have started doing “a preview and tracking the data in parallel until Apr 10.”

Google also now shows a message informing users that the “Performance data is now based on canonical URLs,” when logged into Google Search Console account.

Users can access this data by going to performance report and selecting a verified property.

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