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How to spot Google Podcasts in your server logs

· By · 1.7 minutes to read

We were curious: it turns out that Google Podcasts is harder to spot than many podcast apps.

Here’s the definitive guide on how to spot Google Podcasts in your podcast logs. You need to check both the user agent and the referrer to do this accurately.

Web (desktop and mobile)

Here’s an example from a user on Google Chrome on a Mac:

UA: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10_15_6) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/86.0.4240.198 Safari/537.36
Referrer: https://podcasts.google.com/

… it looks like a normal browser (because it is), but the referrer is always set.

iOS app

UA: GooglePodcasts/2.0.7 iPhone/14.1 hw/iPhone12_1
Referrer: -

Android app

UA: Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; Android 10; Pixel 3a XL Build/QQ3A.200805.001; wv) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Chrome/86.0.4240.198 Mobile Safari/537.36 GSA/11.38.8.23.arm64
Referrer: -

Assistant screenless devices (eg Google Home)

UA: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux armv7l) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/84.0.4147.125 Safari/537.36 CrKey/1.50.229149
RSS slug:bot.google.com
Referrer: https://www.gstatic.com/narrative_cast_receiver/podcasts/receiver.html?feature=2

Google’s bots

You should discard any downloads made directly by the Googlebot or similar services, which will occasionally automatically download your audio for analysis.

This page contains the useragents that Google uses. Podnews has seen AdsBot-Google, Googlebot, Googlebot-Video, and others.

RSS feeds

If you check RSS user-agents, then Googlebot is used to parse all RSS feeds for Google Podcasts.

Useragents that Google used to use

GoogleChirp - once the codename for Google’s home speaker. This is no longer used for anything related to Google Podcasts or Google Assistant.

Google-Podcast - once the thing that Google Play Music Podcasts used to use to grab your audio, once per episode. This is now closed.

James Cridland is the Editor of Podnews, a keynote speaker and consultant. He wrote his first podcast RSS feed in January 2005; and also launched the first live radio streaming app for mobile phones in the same year. He's worked in the audio industry since 1989.

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