Tobold's Blog
Friday, February 10, 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 http://www.google.co.uk/url? 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.
Comments:
Thanks for the heads-up. I didn't realise they were doing this now.

Even though the name is silly, I have recently found myself using DuckDuckGo more often. This latest will certainly not stop me from moving in that direction.
 
I wonder if there's a plugin for Chrome that will do this...
 
Link redirection happens pretty rarely for me, I only get hit by it about once every 10 searches.
 
I noticed this a while back as well. The redirect messes up using the back button as well. One click goes to the redirect link which goes back to same spot. You have to double back or what I do now is open each link in new tabs.
 
There's a ">>" next to each result now. You click that and get a cached preview of the page, and they also have the URL available there.

You get a quick way to verify the page is what you want, and can cut the URL from there.
 
hrm, just saw this as well. I tested out Bing to see if they were also doing it, doesn't appear so. Maybe I'll start giving Bing a try as a main search engine.
 
For Google Chrome, you can use the "Undirect" extension:
https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/dohbiijnjeiejifbgfdhfknogknkglio?hl=en-US

I haven't tried it myself (*) but if it does what it says on the box it should do the trick.

Otherwise as this article says:
http://www.consumingexperience.com/2009/10/google-search-results-redirection.html

You can use a Greasemonkey script to remove the redirect (I assume this means FF users, not sure about IE).

The logging-out method mentioned in the article doesn't work BTW, I just tried and still got the redirect.

(*) Google search is a great service given for free. But TINSTAAFL as we all know, and so, I give up some privacy and comfort so Google can make a profit. That said, I agree with many points you (Tobold) raised and I hope that Google fix these. Breaking right-click especially for non-HTML links such as PDFs is especially a problem :(
 
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