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…
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 email@example.com and I’ll post them.