Google and the Global Traveler

Whenever I travel outside the US I get a kick out of entering “google.com” and seeing what happens. That’s because Google makes use of two behind-the-scenes technologies known as “geolocation” and “content negotiation.”

Here is the Web page Google took me to…

google_ca.jpg

It is Remembrance Day here in Canada, which is why the logo has been localized. But also notice that I’m at the Google Canada Web page instead of Google.com. What Google did was look at my IP address and assume that because I’m now located in Canada that I’d prefer to visit the Google Canada site. But at the bottom of the Web page is a link that will take me to Google.com should I rather get back to the URL I originally input. Not everyone likes geolocation because it makes certain assumptions about what a Web user wants — in my case it guessed incorrectly. Not suprisingly, international travelers typically complain about this Google feature.

Also, Google looked at the language preference of my Web browser and took me to the English Canada page. This is the “content negotiation” technology at work. Note that there is a link to the French-language Canada page should I wish to search in French.

I’d love to start collecting these country-specific and theme-specific Google home pages; if you collect a screen grab from where you live, send it to me at info@bytelevel.com and I’ll post them.

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Author: John Yunker

John co-founded Byte Level Research in 2000 and is author of The Web Globalization Report Card. He also co-founder of Ashland Creek Press.

2 thoughts on “Google and the Global Traveler”

  1. Yeah,

    It’s annoying when I travel and just want to go back to the main site. But at the same time, it’s probably easier for the residents of that location to just see the site in their language. I imagine if the Japanese saw an english site as the home page, and not the Japanese one, they would have a hard time even finding the correct link and most likely leave the site.

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