Thursday, February 9, 2012

Google link redirecting

Google is becoming less and less useful to me, because over the last years they changed how they display their search results. Instead of displaying a link directly to the site you searched for, they engage in something called "link redirection", transforming the short URL of the site into a long link to with lots of code behind it. That is done to track your use of the search engine.

One minor negative effect of that is that clicking on a Google links becomes slower, because you first need Google to process your link tracking before you are allowed to proceed to the site you actually searched for. That can be annoying, but I can live with that. But what really killed the usefulness of Google for me was that I can't right-click on Google search results any more to copy links into my blog or elsewhere. A blog post tends to have links, and if you can just copy the link from Google instead of first having to go to the site itself, writing goes a lot faster. Also Google redirection prevents me from using right-click with the "save target as" function to save for example pdf files I searched for. Worst of all Google link redirect viruses have sprung up which use the Google link redirection feature to send you to sites you didn't want to go.

There are fixes around, for example I installed this Scrub Google Redirect Links script to get the normal links back. But I find it kind of ridiculous that Google doesn't give me an option to turn these link redirects off. Between being unpractical, the potential privacy concerns, and the virus vulnerability, this is really a feature that should be optional and not forced onto Google users.

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