This morning I spotted dozens of threads in the Google Web Search Help forum from searchers complaining the back button doesn't take them back to Google. In summary, a searcher searches for something on Google, finds a result, clicks on it, and then when dissatisfied they click the back button to go back to the Google search results. The issue is, clicking the back button doesn't take all of these searchers back to Google, instead it takes them back to the page they were just on.
The first report I found came in last night in the Google Web Search Help and said:
When I do a search on google and then click on one of the search results on the results page, my browser goes to a URL like http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&source=web&ct=res&cd=8&ved=0CDcQFjAH&url=
and then it gets automatically forwarded to the actual result.
Unfortunately, this means that when I try to click "back" to get back to my list of results, I cannot - I keep getting stuck on this forwarding page which keeps forwarding me to the result. This happens no matter what I search for.
Google confirmed this is not a malware issue but rather a test Google is running that has a bug in it. Jaime from Google said:
You may have been randomly selected to be part of one of our many experiments that helps us evaluate our results and test small changes. Clearing your cookies likely removed you from that experiment. However, even in the experiment, the redirect should not have interfered with your browser's Back button.... I'm curious if this is a bug in one of the experiments, simply an anomalous glitch, or some other conflict.
Forum discussion at Google Web Search Help.
Update: Jaime updated the thread today at 1:30pm (EST):
Update: This is indeed a bug affecting Internet Explorer 8 users. We have a fix and are in the process of rolling it out, so you should have Back button functionality restored later today (within a few hours if all goes well).
Many thanks to those of you who reported this problem -- the details you provide are always helpful in figuring out where the problem lies and whom it's affecting.
My apologies for any confusion or inconvenience.
Thanks again, Jaime
The fix is not yet out, but hopefully soon.