Google – Breaks all analytics – evil?

February 3, 2009
The # in the picture above - is the culprit

The # in the picture above - is the culprit

Google just started bucket testing a feature that is breaking many analytics programs. The culprit seems to be the ‘#’ in the url after a search is made, they used this symbol in order to use AJAX to display the search results.

The problem is anything after the ‘#’ in the url isn’t kept by the browser, so many analytics programs that use the url string to determine the referrer to a website is now showing blanks where keywords used to be.

– This brings into question the company’s motto “Don’t be evil.” I think it really shows that google might be motivated to do some things it normally wouldn’t do, in the interest of its share holders, or because of this economical climate.

– Another question is “Who owns the data?” Google? The User? or The Website they visit? I know there are millions of dollars invested in companies that google just shot in the foo.  I wouldn’t put it past any of them from bringing suit and/or pushing for a antitrust suit.

– I am waiting a repsonse from any credible source; I will update the post when this happens.

Update:

The saga continues, I guess I caught wind a little late as this test has been going for the last 4-5 days. The test has to be a pretty small bucket test as most of my sites are showing less than 5 blank referrers.

It is not our intention to disrupt referrer tracking, and we are continuing to iterate on this project. For more information on the experiments that we run on Google search

That is the best news so far, that when they do roll it out – it won’t be the exact implementation of what is happening now, the bad news is we don’t know for sure if they will f ix the referrer issue. The statement references this post

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2006/04/this-is-test-this-is-only-test.html

That post has no reference to this specific test; and just says they do bucket testing. Google is still being unusually quiet about this one; No post yet by Matt Cutts or nothing 😦

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