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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Google Causes a Stir over New AJAX Search Test

Posted by @ 8:02 pm

The industry has been busy debating the consequences of a new search results test by Google which could have a serious negative impact on SEO campaign measurement and success.

Google has apparently (I’m unable to simulate the test) been trailing an AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) based search results page, which could make rank checking and analytics software useless.

Several industry experts have weighed into the discussion, pointing at the idea that Google could be using the AJAX results to force more people across to their analytics service. Peter Da Vanzo, via Aaron Walls SEObook blog, had this to say:

“Trouble is, what happens to existing tools? Plugins? Rank checkers? Stats and other referral tracking packages? All tools that rely on Google passing data in order to work… Perhaps the only place you’ll be able to get this data is Google Analytics? Is this the next step – a lock-in?”

Matt McGee reached out to the team at Google to garner some more insight on the tests, and these are the responses he received.

“We’re continually testing new interfaces and features to enhance the user experience. We are currently experimenting with a javascript enhanced result page because we believe that it may ultimately provide a faster experience for our users. At this time only a small percentage of users will see this experiment. 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, please see:”

And a second response…

“Currently AJAX results are just a test on Google. At this time only a small percentage of users will see this experiment. It is not our intention to disrupt referrer tracking, and we are continuing to iterate on this project and are actively working towards a solution. As we continue experiments, we hope that this test may ultimately provide an easier solution for our customers and a faster experience for our users. For more information on the experiments that we run on Google search, please see”

Now if this test is solely for the purposes of speeding up the search experience, I think they’re wasting time and energy on an issue that doesn’t exist.

When you consider that a search for the very generic term “food” takes a whopping 0.14 secs to find 843,000,000 results – I don’t think speed is an issue they should worry about.

Do you think the test is really about faster results and better experience? or Do you think Google are really just trying to force users across to Google Analytics.

Share your opinions below…


Rene LeMerle Rene is the marketing manager of - a global search engine marketing company. He also leads the marketing for - a web 2.0 style community for online and digital marketers. Rene has been in the industry since 1997 with much of that time spent helping businesses embrace the best of the internet and digital world.

View Rene LeMerle's profile

Discussion (4 - comments)

I completely agree that it wouldn’t make sense for Google to spend this energy to simply speed up the user experience. It seems disingenuous of them to say that they’re doing it to create a faster experience.

I hope they’re being honest about the fact that they have no intention of disrupting referrer tracking and they are continuing to iterate – because if they do roll this out they are going to break a lot of successful business models. I, for one, would not like to see that happen.

Thanks for sharing the info from Matt McGee. I think this is a well written post on an important change to Google.

By Keith Holloway - February 9, 2009

I won’t use anything that I “have to use”.

By don - February 10, 2009

This “lock-in” is how Infoseek doomed themselves and how the rival Google was born. If Google wants to remove themselves from the search engine marketplace, then there is plenty of room for a serious contender to be created.

By Anonymous - February 10, 2009

Is this not just a case of Internet sites becoming more ‘application-like’, so the user experiences a web site like using a peice of software on their PC.

One could argue that this is an expected route for most web sites in the coming years, and frankly I like the feel of an Ajax enabled web site… it feels more punchy somehow.

However I do see the argument about tracking and I’m sure Google would not want to deter such activity, after all its the SEO business that makes them money? … but not forgetting its this activity that has lined the SEO communities pockets too.

I think it’s great that Google are experimenting with newer technology, afterall if they stood still it would be silly in a fast paced arena.

As for the lock-in, well if Google chooses to make itself less popular then maybe the search throne will be toppled… but SEO’s will have to move with the times I guess… plus change means more money for you ultimately!

By Anonymous - February 10, 2009

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