In Search Console, the Performance report currently credits all page metrics to the exact URL that the user is referred to by Google Search. Although this provides very specific data, it makes property management more difficult; for example: if your site has mobile and desktop versions on different properties, you must open multiple properties to see all your Search data for the same piece of content.
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 change has several benefits:
- It unifies all search metrics for a single piece of content into a single URL: the canonical URL. This shows you the full picture about a specific piece of content in one property.
- For users with separate mobile or AMP pages, it unifies all (or most, since some mobile URLs may end up as canonical) of your data to a single property (the “canonical” property).
- It improves the usability of the AMP and Mobile-Friendly reports. These reports currently show issues in the canonical page property, but show the impression in the property that owns the actual URL referred to by Google Search. After this change, the impressions and issues will be shown in the same property.
When will this happen?
We plan to transition all performance data on April 10, 2019. In order to provide continuity to your data, we will pre-populate your unified data beginning from January 2018. We will also enable you to view both old and new versions for a few weeks during the transition to see the impact and understand the differences.
API and Data Studio users: The Search Console API will change to canonical data on April 10, 2019.
How will this affect my data?
- At an individual URL level, you will see traffic shift from any non-canonical (duplicate) URLs to the canonical URL.
- At the property level, you will see data from your alternate property (for example, your mobile site) shifted to your “canonical property”. Your alternate property traffic probably won’t drop to zero in Search Console because canonicalization is at the page, not the property level, and your mobile property might have some canonical pages. However, for most users, most property-level data will shift to one property. AMP property traffic will drop to zero in most cases (except for self-canonical pages).
- You will still be able to filter data by device, search appearance (such as AMP), country, and other dimensions without losing important information about your traffic.
You can see some examples of these traffic changes below.
Preparing for the change
- Consider whether you need to change user access to your various properties; for example: do you need to add new users to your canonical property, or do existing users continue to need access to the non-canonical properties.
- Modify any custom traffic reports you might have created in order to adapt for this traffic shift.
- If you need to learn the canonical URL for a given URL, you can use the URL Inspection tool.
- If you want to save your traffic data calculated using the current system, you should download your data using either the Performance report’s Export Data button, or using the Search Console API.
Here are a few examples showing how data might change on your site. In these examples, you can see how your traffic numbers would change between a canonical site (called example.com) and alternate site (called m.example.com).
Important: In these examples, the desktop site contains all the canonical pages and the mobile contains all the alternate pages. In the real world, your desktop site might contain some alternate pages and your mobile site might contain some canonical pages. You can determine the canonical for a given URL using the URL Inspection tool.
In the current version, some of your traffic is attributed to the canonical property and some to the alternate property. The new version should attribute all of your traffic to the canonical property.
|New, based on canonical URLs|
|Change||+0.7K | +3K||-0.7K | -3K|
Individual page traffic
You can see traffic changes between the duplicate and canonical URLs for individual pages in the Pages view. The next example shows how traffic that used to be split between the canonical and alternate pages are now all attributed to the canonical URL:
|Change||+150 | +800||-150 | -800|
In the current version, all of your mobile traffic was attributed to your m. property. The new version attributes all traffic to your canonical property when you apply the “Device: Mobile” filter as shown here:
|Change||+0.7K | +3K||-0.7K | -3K|
We know that this change might seem a little confusing at first, but we’re confident that it will simplify your job of tracking traffic data for your site. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out on the Webmaster Help Foru
Matthew Leffler is a freelance SEO on Upwork.com and SEOClerks.com with 20 years of technical experience and a technical education background. In those years of experience he's worked in several technical roles in informtation technology and software training. Matt has worked at Hewlett-Packard and Gateway Computers. Matthew earned his BSIT, MBA in Technology Management and MEd in Instructional Design. He holds over a dozen active technical certifications including A+, Netowrk+, Security+, Project+, is a Certified Webmaster Professional, and a HDI Help Desk Analyst.