Say I search for something in Google and click on a few results. After some time, if I again search for same thing, the search results show the earlier clicked links with different colours and date/time of visit. And, I know that this is associated with my Google account and not with the computer as such.

I had in mind that after the search, Google returns us with a page and clicking on those search results does not go through Google. So how does Google keep the web history?

  • Google doesn't let people directly to page they found. You go through google servers.
    – Beniamin
    Commented Jun 16, 2011 at 12:10
  • 1
    @Beniamin Sometimes they choose to insert a redirect for QA purposes. But for most users most of the time that's not true.
    – oleschri
    Commented Jun 16, 2011 at 14:32
  • @oleschri - I don't know what they do if you're not logged in or not using web history, but I'm always logged in and I'm using web history and they always redirect through their servers. That way I have web history without google toolbar I guess. Correct me if I'm wrong.
    – Beniamin
    Commented Jun 17, 2011 at 7:48
  • @Beniamin I have to apologize, you are right. Google seems to have changed their behavior since I last checked. In 2009 they started to redirect by default to get more precise click-through statistics: analytics.blogspot.com/2009/04/…
    – oleschri
    Commented Jun 17, 2011 at 8:52

3 Answers 3


A basic description of how Google Web History works: http://www.google.com/support/accounts/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=54068


Note: Depending upon whether or not you're signed in to a Google Account when you search, the information we use for customizing your experience will be different:

Signed-in personalization: When you're signed in, Google personalizes your search experience based on your Web History. If you don't want to receive personalized results while you're signed in, you can turn off Web History and remove it from your Google Account. You can also view and remove individual items from your Web History.

Signed-out personalization: When you're not signed in, Google customizes your search experience based on past search information linked to your browser, using a cookie. Google stores up to 180 days of signed-out search activity linked to your browser's cookie, including queries and results you click.

To change Web History settings for your account go to: https://www.google.com/history/


Here is an article that attempts to explain how Google Web History works, primarily from a user experience standpoint: http://searchengineland.com/google-search-history-expands-becomes-web-history-11016

Does this answer your question, or are you looking for something more technical?


If you highlight the links on a Google search, you will see an URL starting with http://google.com/url?url=. This is where they see what you surf. Strangely, this does not always happen, maybe because they can catch it with JavaScript too.

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