Do you have Google Toolbar installed on your browser? I do, and I have to admit that I find it as a convenience in two ways. One, I know I can click on the Google button and it’ll pull up the Google search page. Two, I also use Google Desktop, and the icon for it sits on the toolbar, easy to find.
One thing I’ve rarely done, however, is type my search term into the little box next to the button. I almost never think about it sitting there. What’s funny is that, as I look up there now, I see the search terms I typed into the actual Google window the last time I was there waiting for me, as if I’m going to type them in again. That’s a quick way to search for something; I wonder why I have rarely used it.
Turns out there might have been a good reason not to do it, and I was just lucky. It seems that every time you put a search term into that little window and click the button, you’re sending information to Google telling them what you’re searching for. They in turn use that information to try to target ads specifically to you based on where you live and what you’ve been searching for. They store this information away, waiting for the next time you use it so they can do more calculations, trying to figure you out.
It seems this has been written about often enough, but I’ve always missed it. The last article I saw comes from Mashable, where they found that even if you disable the tracking part of the toolbar it still continues to track your movements.
Of course, you can look at that and gripe, or you can decide to gripe about the issue of Adsense reducing its payments from 75% to 72% to its publishers, of which most of us are. Man, working on getting our money coming or going; how fair is that?