Google has announced a change to the way it handles duplicate URLs in Search Console. Check out our summary for what you need to know.
In a post on its Webmaster Central Blog this week, Google announced a change to the way the various reports and statistics on Google Search Console reference URLs. Starting in April (and prepping a backfill of data even sooner), the URLs reported in the Search Console will be the Google-selected canonical URL for the page, as opposed to the exact URL where things happened.
Previously, if traffic hit an alternate version of a URL or if Google is reporting an issue with indexing a URL, it would do so using the exact URL that was hit. This made it difficult to see aggregate traffic for the normal and AMP versions of a page (or any other alternative version of a URL) as a single number.
With this change, you’ll now be able to see numbers based on your content rather than URLs, which can be much more useful when determining how your site is working, especially when it comes to a page with multiple versions (such as AMP and normal HTML).
This also is useful for determining cross-domain URLs. Previously you would have to look at the stats in Search Console on both the www.example.com and example.com (without the www prefix) and add the numbers and reports together to determine what the real impact on your site was. Now only one URL for each page should be reported.
One thing that we’d like to stress here is that Google is going to collate the stats to the URL that Google chooses as canonical, not necessarily the URL you indicate with your rel=canonical tag. While the rel=canonical tag is a strong indication to Google of what the webmaster believes to be the correct version of the page, Googlebot makes its own decision based on a number of factors, so the URL it chooses as the canonical version of a page may not necessarily be the version you indicated.
While Google’s announcement indicated that this change will go live in April, the very next day webmasters around the web saw that they were already able to view consolidated stats. When asked about this on Twitter, John Mueller replied that data is being tracked in parallel until April 10 as a preview, so the stats can be seen both in a consolidated view and on the original URL.
Yep! We're doing a preview and tracking the data in parallel until Apr 10, to help make understanding & transitioning to the new way easier.
— 🍌 John 🍌 (@JohnMu) February 7, 2019