Many site managers have asked what this traffic referrer is. The answer is simple. This is Google’s Translation Service.
The website or URL we are more likely to be familiar with is translate.google.com; Fairly recently Google changed some of the service to this alternative domain.
From what I can find, translate.googleusercontent.com is the URL seen when cached translated pages are served, and the cached page pulls data from the live site, e.g. images.
Seeing translate.googleusercontent.com in traffic data “means that someone has viewed your page using the Google Translate service, you will probably also see Google Cache in your list which as noted above means someone has viewed a cached version of your page”
Identity confirmed on Google Support Forum
The confirmation of the domain was finally found hidden in a post on Google Groups by Josh (a Google Employee) who answers some questions about the errors seen by AdSense users.
“We correctly block robots.txt from crawling our translations of webpages. We don’t want web crawlers to try to crawl complete translations of the web through our service.”
The translate.googleusercontent.com site blocks robots/spiders from crawling the indexed content.Josh also describes how to fix the error messages from AdSense by allowing the AdSense spider to crawl the affected site…
Apparently the translated pages are only partly cached, and there is a good reason for that. If the translated page was fully cached, then clicks from the cached page would result in loss of income to the site owner – who will the click-through fee go to – the cache?
Fair enough, it looks like Google is trying to combine the best of both worlds here, by caching the translated page content, but calling the page from the live website so any click-through on AdSense links gets credited to the site owners account. Rather clever in fact.
This explanation also answers another question.
IP look-up for translate.googleusercontent.com fails
Having identified a number of IPs used by translate.googleusercontent.com (a number of Google regional services have different IP addresses), those of us who have tried discovering what this referrer is have found no answers from IP look-up services. Josh’s answer to the AdSense question provides the clue – these services spiders are also blocked…
Not a hacker, spambot or botnet
This traffic source (translate.googleusercontent.com) is not a hacker, spambot or any other source of malign activity! Nor is it a bandwidth thief. It is simply Google doing it’s thing.
The real problem is the lack of information (once again) from Google. Considering this is their translation service they really should have a claim of ownership posted on their main website, or even Webmaster Tools… I wonder how may site managers have blocked the IP’s this service uses not knowing what it was. I did for a while!
I came across a large number of 404 page ‘page not found’ errors caused by traffic accredited to translate.googleusercontent.com after hotlink protecting images and downloads on my domains at Graphicline (It seems allowing free download and use of these items is not enough for some people – they also want free hosting and bandwidth too).
Considering the several hundred links from translate… resulting in 404′s I added the IP’s to the blocked list… The result of course was incomplete pages viewed from the translated and cached pages. I know it is not Google’s wish to serve partial content, nor is it mine to prevent the service from delivering full-page views – lack of information… After looking through the first 50 results from a Google search for the term translate… and getting only pages of more questions without adequate answers from a reliable source, the IP’s were blocked.
Now, having found the facts, I can add the domain to the list of those allowed to hot-link, and remove the IP’s from the block.
Yes, it is safe to allow translate.googleusercontent.com to link to your site, as well as your AdSense content!