Google’s tracking links – grrrrrrrrr!

Over the past couple days, I’ve become plenty annoyed with Google’s tracking links breaking, or failing to return any data. I get the same experience with Yahoo (which loves redirection) quite often – at least with Google SERPs it’s only a small percentage of links that are getting tracked.

Hey Google, if you’re going to implement a feature that does nothing for users, I hope you don’t mind losing a few users in the process. I’m going to switch my default search over to MSN for a bit. Every time Google drives a user to try another search, there’s a chance that the other engine will win the taste test.

For the geeks among you, here’s an (edited down) HTTP trail from WebBug on a Google redirect link:
GET /url?sa=t&ct=res&cd=9&url=http%3A// HTTP/1.1

HTTP/1.1 302 Found
Cache-Control: private
Set-Cookie: PREF=ID=ddccf96dc54d1008:TM=1124665190:
expires=Sun, 17-Jan-2038 19:14:07 GMT;

As you can see, Google is setting a cookie on the way through the redirect. I assume this allows them to see when a user clicks the back button or “bounces” from the target page back to the SERP. Conspiracy theorists, have fun with that… (Note: I added the line breaks in the cookie code to make it fit our page layout.)