I start noticing that some Google results are links to some Google redirect engine. But almost all the others are direct links.

Are they starting to count the clicks to better rank your site?

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Actually, all of the links go through a Google redirect. Check with Firebug or Dev Tools in Chrome, you'll see the URLs are something like /url?sa=t&source=web&cd=11&ved=0CBgQF.... I assume they use some form of Javascript to make the browser show the real URL in the status bar.

  • 1
    Yes, you're right, silly me for not checking – Eduardo Molteni Sep 6 '10 at 16:05
  • However, if you right click, copy link address and paste - somelinks don't have the redirect and some do. – Dennis Williamson Sep 6 '10 at 21:45
  • @Dennis Williamson: I've never come across any that don't. Even links to Google apps like Gmail use the same redirect. – Lèse majesté Sep 9 '10 at 10:25
  • @Lèse majesté: Here's an example search that doesn't have redirects on the result links. – Dennis Williamson Sep 9 '10 at 23:02
  • @Dennis Williamson: Do you have JS disabled possibly? Because every one of those results has a redirect when I right-click on it. As Matthew pointed out, they are inserted when you click on the links. – Lèse majesté Sep 10 '10 at 1:49

They do this if you are logged into your Google account to keep track of your search history (which you can later search or review).

They also have done this in the past to see how their search results are being used.

They do not use it for ranking sites. It can be manipulated way too easily for that.

  • Even when not logged in, they put a javascript function on onmousedown – Eduardo Molteni Sep 6 '10 at 16:04
  • In the webmaster tools there are statitics about how many people clicked on a link for your side. – Hendrik Brummermann Sep 7 '10 at 19:11

The links start out pointing directly to the actual result. When you click on the link, an onmousedown event handler changes it to the redirect link. If you click a link and drag the mouse off of it (so you don't actually follow the link), you will start seeing the redirect link in the status bar for that link.

  • Some links with the click and drag only show the direct link and not any redirect. – Dennis Williamson Sep 6 '10 at 21:45

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