Google Planning AJAX Interface – Doom’s Day for Analytics

Google has been offering AJAX based results through API for a long time now but recently it has been observed that in some countries Google has rolled out its AJAX based interface in main Google search as well. While this is still used selectively only in certain regions it can very well be the way Google decides to work in future.

The main difference between the traditional Google search engine result pages and the new AJAX based pages is in the URL structure. A normal Google page looks like

http://www.google.co.in/search?hl=en&q=google+ajax&btnG=Google+Search&meta=

The AJAX version would look like..

http://www.google.com/#hl=en&q=google+ajax&btnG=Google+Search&aq=f&oq=google+ajax&fp=0k_STq_SEOg

Now what is the big difference between these two ?
Note the “#” in the second URL. On any Google query the URL string carries the query value under the “q” parameter and we can easily understand the keyword ( and at times other information as well) by looking at “?hl=en&q=google+ajax&btnG=Google+Search&meta=” part. In the new URL the query part is placed after the #.

All the web analytics packages that are used today, may it be a server based log analyzer or a JavaScript based analytics package; they work by parsing the data passed by browsers through the URL. So a traditional Google search URL could have been easily parsed to understand what was the keyword searched for, the language, the page in which the result was displayed and similar data. However, with this new URL structure, browsers would not be able to pass the value displayed after the” #” mark, as a result all your Google referrals would show up as just Google.com and there would be no way for your analytics package to tell you which keyword sent you the visitor and what was the keyword position in search results page.

It is probably not a small tweak in the JavaScript that would allow the analytics to track this data and the possibilities are that if Google decides to roll this out as a regular feature globally it would actually mean the end of all the existing analytics packages. Even Google analytics is not able to handle these URLs at present and shows the referrers as Google.com/referrer. However, it is a possibility that Google might do necessary modification to Google Analytics to track such AJAX based results before they role out the new feature globally. In such case it would spell the doom for all the existing analytics package and would actually create a virtual monopoly for Google analytics.

What are your thoughts on this?

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This article has One response

  • Anonymous
    01.08.2010 5:31 pm Reply

    I wasn’t a big fan of analytics until recently, one of my new customers relies heavily on analytics so I’m guessing… bummer, that’s not good.