You can stop looking for googleapis in your site’s analytics
This month (February 2021), Google has released a new product update on its Google Search Central Blog, explaining that Search Console Discover report now includes Chrome data.
In this release note, Google focuses on changes they released to the Discover report on the Search Console. However, what I found interesting enough to share is that it says they're going to stop using the referrer of "googleapis" and instead will be using "google.com" for all purposes (including for Discover-related referrals - see below).
As a blogger, I always love seeing this referral on my Google Analytics reports. So I thought to write this quick update to let you know that you can say goodbye to this referrer. Seeing the "googleapis" referrer is a reliable indication that your content is performing well on Google. So the fact that you won't see it anymore shouldn't make you worried, but you should look for the google.com referrer instead.
More about the proactive discovery tools Google offers publishers
Anyone who's focused on writing high-quality content cares about its reach. While SEO is still the main channel for blogs to grow, over the past months, Google has been increasing its use of new discovery tools as a supplement:
Getting your article there is a great way to engage with readers and grow your audience. The rules to get there are quite strict and require a substantial investment to understand. However, the payoff can be huge. I won't be going deeper into Google News here as many people already wrote great posts about it already.
I'm talking about Google's new content discovery system for those of you who didn't visit Google Search Console recently. As writers, we're used to focusing on increasing the discoverability of our content on Search, which requires the user to search for a query to get content. Google Discover is totally different in the sense that it's proactively offering content to readers.
The Discover system is displaying content to readers on the Google Chrome app for Android and iOS. You probably encountered it as the feed of "Articles for you" whenever you open a new tab on Chrome on your mobile device. Discover also works on the independent Google app itself, which I guess is mostly being used by iOS users (I didn't check that, though).
Getting Google to pick your article using the Discover tool is a challenge since there are no specific guidelines to follow. Even if your item gets picked up, there's no guarantee for any traffic according to Google's documentation on that topic.
You can stop looking for "googleapis" referrer on your favorite analytics tool. Instead, look for "google.com" which compounds the traffic coming from Google Discover as well.
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