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“Come Here Often?” Can we make Google bug off?

If you search with Google, you’ve no doubt seen the intrusive banner that recently began appearing at the top of the search results page:

Come Here Often? Make Google Your Homepage, and two choices: Sure or No Thanks.

The banner is so awkward looking that many users worried that it was a sign that they had been infected by a virus.

Even if you click “No Thanks”, you’ll likely see the banner again the next time you visit Google, or after your next reboot. One Google message said that the choice was stored in a cookie, so as long as you didn’t delete cookies then you wouldn’t see the banner again. That’s not correct though, as I stored a Google.com cookie and still see the banner repeatedly. If they are using a cookie, it must be a third-party cookie not identified as Google.

On-line forums show many users complaining about the banner. What makes this promotion even clumsier than it seems is that even users who already have Google set as their home page still see the banner. Some say that they have removed Google as their default search provider and changed to Bing.

Some comments copied from Google’s own forum:

“Why do you ask me if I want Google to be my homepage when it already is my home page ??????? How’s this for an algorithm: If Google is homepage then do not display banner.”

“This is most obnoxious. Ask once and then leave me alone. I do not, nor will I ever, want to make Google my homepage.”

“Will this promotion end soon? I’ll probably stop using Google if this isn’t fixed.”

“Just out of legitimate fascination, I tried answering both yes and no to the legitimate question. But the banner keeps an appearing.

Oh, by the way, Google is already my home page, but I still keep on getting the banner. Hmm …… This kind of reminds me of Groundhog Day. Whether you’re dead or alive, life just goes on.”

Google seems to have erred badly on this one. The banner is clumsy, doesn’t even look like a Google item, and is annoying users unnecessarily. My prediction: after the complaints become widespread and loud enough, Google will stop this promotion rather than risk more customer defections.

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