Google Fesses Up To AJAX Search Results Test

Mar 16, 2009 - 8:35 am 3 by

A month and a half ago, Google began testing Google AJAX search results, which caused a major uproar amongst webmasters who were unable to track referrer information in their analytics package. Google released a statement that they test things all the time and didn't say more. Soon after, AJAX search results went away and we forgot about it.

Then Brett Tabke asked Google's Matt Cutts at PubCon last week about this test. Lisa Barone has the live blog coverage of that question, where Matt answered:

That was really funny. The team there only thinks about speed. They want to get the results back to users as quick as humanly possible. JavaScript makes the search results a lot faster. Suppose you do a search for flowers, as you’re typing flowers, they can do a query from the back end and fold search results right into the page. You’re still in and they can pull in the results automatically. It doesn’t give you the referrer. He says the team didn’t think about the referrer aspect. So they stopped. They’ve paused it until they can find out how to keep the referrers.

Right, and that is what most of us assumed. So Brett followed up by asking Matt, "why didn't they just come out and say that?" Matt replied, "that's nice feedback and he would let them know".

Some actually think Google is starting the AJAX test again. SEO Smackdown reports again, seeing it. He said that to get around the referrer problem, Google is passing variables in the click through URL that Google Analytics understands, but other analytical programs do not. Of course this is not the solution and he says so. I also see the URL parameters in my searches, but I am not getting the AJAX search results.

Google is a big company. Google Analytics was upset that the Google search UI team did this. Google's search UI team had no idea of the implications of their change.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld and Sphinn.


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