Google Ajax Search Could Shut Us Down

Has anyone saw this recently in their traffic analytics?

Did Google finally post a link from their homepage to your site? Dream on! Google is working on the integration of a new search experience high on Ajax. The consequence is that analytics tools will be referrer-blind. Not quite, but almost. Here is how Sean from Clicky summarizes it:

Here’s what the new search result URLs look like with the new “Ajax” feature:

http://www.google.com/#q=clicky

See how there’s a hash mark # in there now, and the “q=test” is after it? The problem is that web browsers don’t send anything after the # in the referrer string. This means organic searches from Google will now show up as just “http://www.google.com/”, with no search parameters. In other words, no analytics app can track these searches anymore.

The reaction in the community is divided: some think it will get fixed; some think that Google is doomed if they try to blind us all; others believe that as a business, Google is in its right to do whatever they feel like. Personally, I am torn between two things:

1. Google’s philosophy is geared towards openness. I trust this brand.

2. There are just too many changes going on right now: The economic climate hastens Web companies to make cash. Google is no exception. It already shut down a few services. Companies like Twitter opt for VIP access to make money. Facebook has always been a walled-garden, and it is growing at a scary pace.

And of course, Google Blog Search ‘broke’, and it doesn’t seem like they are about to fix it.

So which road will Google take here? If they make referring keywords private, of course it will generate a shameless amount of money for the company. It would be so ‘evil’ though, it would seriously hurt the brand. I don’t think that Google would cut us off this way, but by switching technologies, they have leeway to negotiate a new relationship with publishers based on new rules.

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