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If you have ever wondered if Google knows which sites you click through to from its results pages, the answer is ‘Yes’; and below I will explain how.

If your search for a ‘Google Consultant‘ finds you clicking through on, or even hovering over, a link or two, Google knows precisely which by using JavaScript in the results page to load a small invisible image when the user clicks on a link. This image identifies the position of the link in the results on the page viewed, which in conjunction with the URL referrer, i.e. the http://www.google.com/search?q=Google+Consultant&start=0 in the address bar of your browser, allows Google to know precisely which link was clicked on. It can do the cross reference by utilising the ‘start’ parameter (see URL above) present in the URL, to identify which page of the results it is currently presenting. Oh, and the JavaScript also works when you don’t actually click, but hover over and move away from a particular link.

Just imagine what Google could do with this enormous amount of contextual data regarding which links are clicked on and which aren’t. Go on, imagine….

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Filed in Blog, June 20th, 2004. Leave a comment, or trackback from your own site. Follow comments via RSS

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