Monday, August 22, 2005

Google Tracking Clicks

I noticed something interesting this morning. Google is tracking how people respond to their search results.

Try this: Do a Google search. It does not matter what you search for. Pick one of the search results, put your mouse on the link, and hold down the left mouse button. You'll see a Google link shown at the bottom of your browser. When you release the mouse button you'll be taken to the web site you've selected.

The links in Google search results have been set up to activate a link to Google when you push down on your mouse button and then take you to the web site you selected when you release the mouse button.

What does this mean?

This allows Google to measure which links people are actually clicking on. Using cookies they can tell when you arrive at Google, and how long you are away looking at a web site you found in a Google search. This information allows Google to identify relevent web sites based on which are getting clicked on and whether people stay at the site or return to the Google SERPs to try another web site.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Buyer Be Wary

Recently I had a company offering to sell me a domain they said ranked very high for my name. When I checked the search results it had the top two positions in Google. If I accepted their offer I could buy this #1 ranked domain for just $75.00!

Does this sound like a bargain?

I was suspicious from the start because I had never seen this domain before. It had come out of nowhere and just showed up in the #1 position in Google. That’s unusual. I regularly monitor about 100 keywords for various clients and web sites typically don’t just pop into the #1 spot.

I was also suspicious because the domain name was a generic word, unrelated to me or anything I do. And the content on the site was just one sentence about a marketing book I had written 12 years ago. That’s not much content.

So I waited and watched.

Two weeks later the domain disappeared completely from Google.

What they had done was to set up a redirect that “stole” the top spot in Google from one of my own sites. When I checked the Google cache it showed one of my web sites, but the link in the search results went to the domain this company was trying to sell me. When Google re-spidered the site they picked up the correct content and dropped the listing from the search results. My guess is that the owner of this domain has set up a new redirect and is now stealing someone else’s search position in Google, which they will then attempt to sell back to that person.

So buyer be wary. If a deal sounds too good, walk away. And if someone is telling you that you need to buy now, take your time.