Google U.S. vs. Google Germany

There has been some discussion on a German weblog about Google recently.
(Der Schockwellenreiter, actually quoting KerLeone:
– plus a large number of comments)
The general point is if you’re in Germany, Google presents you with German sites or at least a German page. Even if you click through to ‘Google.com in English’, the page has on it an invitation to go to Google Germany, which means they know you’re German, and you’re seeing a page intended for Germans only.When you first call up Google, it gives you google.de (I use the Google toolbar, so I don’t see it at once – when I search, I get a page telling me I’ve been searching ‚das Web’. If I double-click on the big word Google in this first search screen (not on the toolbar), I get a screen with the option to choose Google.com in English. Finally, I reach this English page and see I have reached the URL www.google.com, but the page also has a line saying ‚’Go to Google Deutschland’ (sic).

The consensus seemed to be that at least you are searching ‘The Web’ (it tells you so), so you’re in the same position as an American. But the problem is that this is not the page seen in the USA, and the page and the service can be altered in future, and there’s no way to click through to the *real* American start page.

But it gets worse: I searched for ‘Santa Cruz’ (no inverts), and in both Google.com in English (with the invitation to go to the German) and Google Germany using the option for the whole Web I got 272,000 hits. On the narrower German option, I got fewer results, and the first one was German. On the Google Germany for the whole Web, the results were preceded by a news link for Die Welt, whereas on the supposedly English page, the link was to an American paper.

I then emailed a friend in Denver and asked her to search in Google for Santa Cruz. She got 2,670,000 results! Later, another U.S. contact repeated the search and got 2,640,000 results.

What am I to make of this? It seems I’m genuinely being given a different search. I know the number of results varies from day to day, but not that much.

Further tactics were to clean out my temporary Internet files, remove all Google cookies and refuse cookies. When I refused cookies, I wasn’t even able to reach the Google.com English page with the invitation to go to „Deutschland“.

Why is this done? It may be connected with matching the advertising to the user – anything that keeps Google going financially is OK for me – but why restrict the search size?

I know AltaVista does the same thing, and so, I gather, does Dogpile.

Others have recommended www.vivisimo.com and Alltheweb, but that’s not the point. (And Alltheweb gave me German results first!) Nor do I believe, as some do, that Google pays its advertisers by giving them a high ranking, nor is it a problem for me that its searches are not Boolean.

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