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Google Web Light

What is Google Web Light?

Google Web Light is a transcoding service which is intended to reduce the bandwidth required to load a website. In some circumstances when users request a webpage over a slow internet connection, their browser will use Google Web Light to optimize the site on-the-fly to reduce page load times.

When your website is served via Google Web Light, you will see a different domain name reported in your Google Analytic reports. For example, if a webpage from www2.gmu.edu is served to a user via Google Web Light, the domain name in Google Analytics will display as www2.gmu.edu.googleweblight.com. In those cases, although those are not the domain names we might expect to see in GA, the user really did request to view one of our sites. It is real traffic from a real person, and not spam.

Google will only transcode webpages when requested from a mobile device using the Chrome browser or the Android browser in “selected countries”.

You can opt out of transcoding by including a specific HTTP header in your web pages. (But it will probably make your pages slower for those users.)

More info from Google on Google Web Light

We have previously discussed Google Web Light, along with other causes of unexpected domain names showing-up in your Google Analytics reports. For more info, see the previous post: Why Unusual Hostnames Show-Up in your GA Reports

Who Uses Google Web Light?

Google only says “selected countries”. Which countries? We can see ourselves from our Google Analytics data using a custom report.

Custom Report: Google Web Light Audit

Answer: India (mostly)

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