Buzz has been growing over the past 4-5 days about what appears to be a new Google search results test that, if widely implemented, might spell doom for SEO rank checking software and some other tools. Many are concerned that it could kill web analytics software, too, but that may not be the case. Google appears to be testing AJAX-based search results on a limited basis. Users who are able to access the test see different URLs for Google searches. Rather than the standard www.google.com/search?q=keyword, URLs in the AJAX test use a hash mark, like this: www.google.com/#q=keyword. Michael VanDeMar wrote about this test last week, and a commenter on that post points out that the test was active in The Netherlands as far back as November. What Does It Mean? If Google rolls out AJAX-based search results on a wide scale, there could be some big ramifications. As Michael VanDeMar and the commenters on his post point out, SEO rank checkers and other tools could be rendered useless. (Google … [Read more...] about Google AJAX Search Results = Death To Search Term Tracking?
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Google has announced that it will now anonymize the server log data that it collects after 18 to 24 months, as a way to better protect the privacy of its users. Until now, Google has retained server log data in its original form indefinitely, which made it possible for anyone with access to those logs — such as government agencies possibly gaining them through legal processes — to potentially track queries back to users.I’m going to revisit what Google collects in its server logs to explain how that can — and cannot — be used to track information back to an particular user. Then I’ll also recap some of the other places where search history is retained, since it isn’t only within server logs. Server Log Records When you visit any web site, the web server records certain information about your visit. Here’s a simplified view of what that might look like if you came to Google and did a search: 184.108.40.206 – 13/Mar/2007 00:44:15 – … [Read more...] about Google Anonymizing Search Records To Protect Privacy
People outside the United States may try to reach Google.com for a variety of reasons rather than use their own country-specific version. But Google has made reaching Google.com more difficult than in the past, a change that may help the company with both advertising and legal issues. For many years, those outside the United States who tried to reach Google.com were usually redirected to their own country-specific version of Google. For example, if you were in the United Kingdom and tried to reach Google.com, you’d be rerouted to Google.co.uk. I know this well firsthand from having lived in the UK for over a decade and from regular trips back. Generally, this redirection has been a benefit to searchers. Country-specific versions are designed to rank content better for people in those particular countries. Someone in the UK searching for “football,” for example, is going to find Google UK provides more relevant results for what they want (soccer) than going to … [Read more...] about How Google Made It A Little Harder To Reach Google.com From Outside The US
Last week, the Google Advisory Council on the Right to be Forgotten (“RTBF”) issued its formal report (embedded below via TechCrunch). The report is the culmination of many months of public hearings and discussions in multiple countries throughout Europe. Among many other things, the document addresses the hotly contested issue of the “geographic scope of delisting.” This is now ground zero for RTBF — how broadly should it apply? Should it be limited to EU-member versions of Google only or should it apply to all Google.com results as well? Consistent with Google’s position, the report advocates that delisting be limited to the local versions of Google (or any other search engine): The Ruling is not precise about which versions of search a delisting must be applied to. Google has chosen to implement these removals from all its European-directed search services, citing the CJEU’s authority across Europe as its guidance. The Council understands … [Read more...] about The Debate Over Whether The “Right To Be Forgotten” Should Apply To Google.com
The popular Firefox browser is on track to use a secure method of searching Google by default, a change that will help prevent potential “eavesdropping” of what people are searching for. It will also further reduce the ability for publishers to know how people find their sites in Google — except for Google advertisers. A loophole in Google Secure Search continues to provide them with this data. “We are currently testing the change to use SSL for built-in Google searches in our Firefox nightly channel. If no issues are uncovered, it will move through our Aurora and Beta release channels before eventually shipping to all our Firefox users. This will include migrating the changes to our non-English version of Firefox, as well,” said Johnathan Nightingale, Director of Firefox Engineering, when I emailed Firefox about the posted change. How The Change Happened Privacy advocate Christopher Soghoian noted the change on his blog today. Back in February 2011, he … [Read more...] about Firefox To Use Google Secure Search By Default; Expect More “Not Provided” Keywords To Follow