back to article Google 'Instant Previews' hit Google Analytics with fake traffic

Update: This story has been updated with comment from Google, and it has been clarfied to show that Google did tell webmasters when "Instant Previews" launched that it would be doing real-time fetches in some cases. We've also added stats concerning the fetches from The Register's site logs. Google's new "Instant Previews" …


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  1. J 3


    Does this mean "Google ads" also get displayed more than "usual", due to the previews? Does it make a different to the bottom line?

  2. Ian Oliver


    I've blocked google analytics (and hundreds of other sites) in my hosts file. Just show me the sodding content on *your* site and don't try and get my browser to wander off to other places.


  3. Quxy

    Yet another annoying "feature"

    I recommend using Ad Block Plus with the Element Hiding Helper to completely block those instant preview magnifying glass elements that are sensitive to clicking anywhere on the right side of the page.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up


      I have to agree. It really is a truly irritating feature. It's far too sensitive to popping-up.

      I'm not even sure what purpose it serves. The previews are too small to see anything, and I know what I'm looking for anyway, so why do I need a preview before I go there? Pointless and annoying.

      1. JCL


        I believe the purpose is to keep you on Google's search results page for longer, making it stickier and giving you more opportunity to look at their ads. Personally I find it incredibly annoying, but not as annoying as their "improved" image search results page.

        I assume they still have ads on their results pages?

      2. batfastad
        Jobs Horns


        Completely massively hate it... a small low-res preview. You can fudge it's removal with AdBlock or Greasemonkey, but just give me an option on the search prefs page. Simple!

        And some other stuff:

        - The new Google Images results pages are abhorrent!

        - Move the vertical search options pane down to the bottom of the page, so it doesn't take up my horizontal res.

        - Disable location-based search so I can get a list of results that are unbiased by location, by default.

        Funny how they won their market by creating plain simple search results pages, now they're forcing all this pap on people.

        Still not going to stoop to using Yahoo, Bing, A9, Ask though... Google's search algorithm is still the best.

        1. IglooDude
          Thumb Up

          Scroogle is what you want then

 scrapes the Google results and still delivers "plain simple search results", better yet without pervasive and sticky logging.

          1. The Fuzzy Wotnot

            Well said!

            Scroogle is a non-profit mob, so if you like what they do, drop them a couple quid to keep their scrapers running!

  4. shade82000

    Loading preview, please wait...

    If I search for 'google preview' and click the preview button, might I cause some kind of infinite loop and accidentally create a black hole?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      black hole?

      No, you just get the same result as if you typed Google in the Google search box and hit return,

      You break the internet!

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Art Bypass

    The Google Web Preview user-agent (masquerading as a Safari browser) is only used when there are robots.txt restrictions in place blocking images etc - it only exists to bypass those restrictions.

    That way Google can continue to claim that Googlebot honours the Robots Exclusion Protocol and look squeaky clean.

    No wonder they didn't announce it in advance.

  6. rd232


    This nonsense has actually caused me to switch my default search engine to Yahoo. It's not as good, and I find myself more often trying to remember a site address than take it for granted that my search phrase will find it, but I can always go to Google if I actually need it.

  7. heyrick Silver badge

    What's the point?

    I use Google and I've noticed this miniature preview pop up. To what point, exactly. It is too small to see anything other than "oh, okay, it's supposed to look like that, huh?". Perhaps if the preview was to do something useful like "loading... oh s**t, we've just been infected by a hidden IFrame, suggest you DON'T click follow this link" then I might see a purpose to it.

    Otherwise, I'm sorry Google. It just seems to me that you've added a "cool feature" more or less "because you can".

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still blocking minority browsers

    Yes, very interesting copycat feature from the old Ask search engine...big deal.

    More importantly, what's the reason Google continues to play chicken with anti-trust regulators and browser-sniff for Opera users and block them from Google Instant and this preview feature...?

    Just asking...

    1. Code Monkey
      Thumb Up


      That sounds like a good reason to use Opera, then.

      1. The Fuzzy Wotnot

        Think you're safe?

        Opera are sitting on a search stats database bigger than Google's!

        It's just that Opera don't sell the stats they collect....not yet!

  9. Tim Bates
    Thumb Down

    Pain in the rear

    I hate the new "features" Google keep adding. They're getting in the way of actually searching the web.

    Instant Preview gets aroused far too easily - like a teenage boy seeing a nipple.

    Instant Search isn't so bad if you're on a fast, unshared internet connection. But it's added bonus of changing the standard keyboard arrow keys from scrolling around the page to moving a little pointer is a right pain. At least you can turn this crap off, unlike the preview one.

  10. A J Stiles

    So what?

    According to my nameserver, is And I have a little proxy that quietly swallows cookies matching /^__utm/i .

    I do not exist to help you make money.

  11. AndrueC Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Yeah, what is the point?

    I suppose if you're looking purely for images it might have some value but you can't read the text so what's the point in preview? All it's doing for me is eating up scarce bandwidth at the office where we only have a flaky 4Mb/s connection.

    1. Panix

      Just FYI

      The Instant Preview will shutdown when it detects that your system or connection is too slow. Had it happen to me yesterday while working on a 1.3GHz Celeron machine we use for a print server.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    @ all of you...

    to disable the previews click the lil magnifying glass (its a toggle switch)

  13. heyrick Silver badge

    A quick way to kill this thing stone dead...

    Firefox with AdBlock Plus is required.

    Press Shift-Ctrl-E to open the ABP settings. Add the following rules:

    (and repeat for any local versions of Google you use, like, .fr, etc)

    Restart Firefox, and smile as that little magnifying glass and hyper-sensitive hyper-annoying popup have both vanished.

    I'm now off to tweak my blog PHP to sniff the preview and return a black page with large white text that reads "SAY NO TO GOOGLE PREVIEW". Why? Because it's taking my bandwidth for no useful purpose, it isn't like the (potential) visitor can actually read it without going to my site... and... um... fetching it all over again...

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