Why is Google sending me to France?

No, I’m not getting a free trip or vacation from Google, but wouldn’t that be nice? I’d like to visit Nice.

Over the weekend I was performing searches with Internet Explorer 7‘s search tool. If you don’t know, the search tool is a small box in the upper right hand corner of the Internet Explorer window. (See picture at right) If you’ve never used it, it probably says “Live Search” in the box. Live Search is one of Microsoft’s search engines, but you can set the search tool to use almost any search engine provider —  such as Google.

If you upgraded from an prior version of Internet Explorer, or switched from another web browser, then your computer may have set the search tool to whatever provider you were using previously, and the name of that provider will appear in the box where it says Live Search.

Adding and Setting IE7’s Search Provider(s)

The search tool allows you to add and select other search engine providers to the interface. To do so you can click the dropdown button on the right hand side of the tool. I’ve outlined the dropdown button in red in the picture at right. (The picture is a screenshot from my computer). When you click this button its reveals a menu or list of other search engine providers you can use.

You’ll see that Google says “(Default)” which indicates that is the search provider I normally use. There is a checkmark next to Live Search, which indicates that I have set the search tool to use Live Search. That is also the name that appears in the search box at the top. You can also see that I can perform searches with Amazon.com, Wikipedia, and Facebook. If I wanted to run a search on one of those sites, I would click on the provider name I want to use, then I could type my search terms or keywords into the box, and hit the Enter key or click the tool’s magnifying glass button to execute my search.

There’s also an option on the menu to “Find More Providers…”. Clicking this option would transfer me to the “Add Search Providers to Internet Explorer” page on the Microsoft Windows web site. (Shown in miniature at left. Click the picture to enlarge the view).

On this page I can click on any of the search providers on the list. Search providers include eBay, Yahoo, Amamzon.com, Facebook, AOL Search, Lycos, MySpace, ESPN, Wal-Mart, Target, and others. To add a new provider to the search tool’s list, just click on any provider’s name, and an “Add Search Provider” dialog box will pop-up asking “Do you want to add the following search provider to Internet Explorer?”. I have an example, at right, for USATODAY.com. There is also an option to “Make this my default provider”. I would select this option if this is the search provider I use most often. Finally, I would click the “Add Provider” button to add the provider to my list for future use.

The search provider page also has an option for adding providers not shown on the list. If you’re interested in learning more about that option, just send me an email or post a comment below.

You may also find some web sites you visit may actually cause a dialog or alert to dropdown from the search tool if their site can be added to the search provider list. One such site is the Internet address registry service at GoDaddy.com.

Anyhow, back to Google and France

So I was using the search tool this weekend to conduct some searches at Google, and every time I conducted a search, or even if I tried to go directly to www.google.com, I’d end up at www.google.frwhich is Google’s French subsidiary. Of course, all the results were in French. My French isn’t very good. (My English is a bit better).

I’d try going directly to google.com, and the address would switch to google.fr again. I clicked “Preferences” and chose to display my results in English, which required me to remember that in French “English” is “Anglais”. I could read the results now, but I was still on the Google France web site. This wasn’t good enough for me.  I wanted to be on the google.com site, plain and simple.

It turns out all I had to do was click a link on the lower right of the page that said “Go to Google.com”. It wasn’t very prominent positioned, so I wasn’t able to find the link until I went to Yahoo and searched for “why is google redirecting me to France”. I found a page that told me about the Google.com link.

Why Did This Happen?

It turns out that Google is using a system called “GeoID” or “GeoIP”, depending who you ask, which determines your geographic location according to your computer’s IP (Internet Protocol) address. Every computer on the Internet is assigned an “IP Address”. Some of them are static (unchanging) and some are dynamic (changing). Most web sites are static, while many home computers and small businesses may be dynamic. The IP address is registered to your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and their remote locations and their geographical locations.

Now this Google France problem only happened in the last two days, and I haven’t been to France lately, and neither has my computer. We’ve both been sitting here in New York.  What happened?

I remembered a phone call I got from my bank a few weeks ago. They told me someone in France was trying to login to my bank account, and they wanted to know if I had been to France recently.  I told them what I told you. So they investigated further. It turns out their computers had misread my New York IP address as a French IP address.  Google’s computers must have misread the address, too.

Can It Happen Again?

Yes, it can.

For the time being there is a “cookie” in my hard drive that tells Google I want to use Google.com, but if and when I clear my Internet cache (Tools > Internet Options) then Google’s computers might misread my address again. In which case I just have to click the “Go to Google.com” link again. That will restore the cookie.

So here’s hoping Google doesn’t misread my address again any time soon, and if they do, they can send me to France, too. Nice, preferably.

Update: Please read the follow-up article: “Is Google sending you to foreign countries?” for suggested solutions.

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  1. yourpc says:

    i was have same problem with you before..
    now, i take more concern about my browsing activity.
    always clear my cookies and browser cache after online.

    i never trus the web 100%
    maybe just 80%


  2. Be aware that the Geo ID system isn’t connected to or related to cookies. Geo ID doesn’t use cookies. Clearing your cache won’t have any effect on the misdirecting issue I experienced. In this situation the cookie was the fix.

    I suspect my ISP and Google will work out the problem. It was most likely a miscommunication between systems. I’ve seen this type of problem in other ways.

    I prefer to let a quality anti-spyware program worry about getting rid of bad cookies for me.

    Thanks for your comment.

  3. Amy says:

    Thanks for the post. This happened to me tonight and it was driving me crazy.

  4. Hi, Amy, I’m glad this post was helpful to you, and I hope your searches are staying on the .com

    This problem lasted a good part of a weekend for me, too.

  5. lulu says:

    Hi, I’m experiencing the same problem. I though it was related to a recent visit to a nearby university where I used their wireless hot spot. I do click on google.com at the bottom of the screen to fix it, but the France problem is there again the next time I log on. Clearing the cache does nothing to fix it. I’m on a Mac. I tried to find a plist doc to see if that is the issue and can’t find one. Also there is nothing in Console that shows anything. It may well be that I have to trash Firefox and download it again to start fresh. I’m hoping it’s not a spyware problem.

  6. Hi, Lulu. My opinion is that this isn’t a spyware issue. I think most people experiencing this problem are Verizon users. Perhaps FIOS users specifically. It appears — as I stated, but not so clearly — that Verizon users are being misread as originating in France. This is a matter Verizon must resolve with other ISPs and their partners.

    The problem isn’t with your computer or software. In technical terms this isn’t a client side issue, but it’s a host side issue. The host being Verizon and perhaps Google.

    I made the connection when my bank called and said someone in France tried to access my bank account. Further talking with bank security revealed that access was attempted via a French IP address, looking further it was a Verizon address, and then finally we determined that it was actually a New York Verizon address which had been misread by the bank’s computers as originating in France.

    Thanks for writing.

  7. […] my earlier post, “Why is Google sending me to France?”, I discussed how my Google searches were being redirected to http://www.google.fr, Google’s French […]

  8. Lulu says:

    Robert, thanks for answering my post. I’ve tried clicking on Go to Google.com, but that doesn’t fix the problem. When I do a search, the results are NOT all in English, many are still in French, and if I want to buy anything, the few websites I get are all French. Also, Microsoft’s Live.com is doing the same thing. It does not fix it just to set the language to English, and there also there are NO shopping ads in English, they are all in French. This is a horrible problem and I wish I could get some answers on fixing it back to the way it should be. I don’t know what to do at this point.

  9. Lulu says:

    Also, I don’t have Verizon, I have Mediacom and live in the Midwest. I’m seeing several people around the US having posted about this problem but nobody has the solution.

  10. This continues to be a problem for many, Lulu. Even I continue to see some minor annoying “glitches”, but it sounds like your problem is much more persistent and serious. In my opinion, I don’t think a re-install of your browser will correct it.

    Here’s an article from 2006 I found on Google.com regarding this problem. You can access the article at http://google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=873

    Connecting to Google: Redirecting to another country domain

    General information
    We normally redirect users in countries other than the United States from http://www.google.com to one of our country-specific sites (e.g. http://www.google.co.uk for Google UK) to provide easy access to country-specific search features. We use your computer’s IP address, which is frequently the Internet address of your Internet Service Provider (ISP), to determine your location and the corresponding Google domain.

    If you’d prefer to visit Google.com instead, click the Google.com link on the bottom right-hand side of the Google homepage.

    If you have cookies enabled, your browser will connect directly to Google.com on all subsequent visits. For more information on cookies, please visit http://www.google.com/cookies.html and http://www.google.com/privacy.html

    Tips to prevent the redirect
    If cookies are disabled, you’ll experience the same redirect each time you visit Google. Try these methods to prevent the redirect:

    Enable cookies
    Set a bookmark for http://www.google.com/webhp. This web address is essentially the same as http://www.google.com

    Report incorrect IP detection
    Finally, if you feel that we’re detecting your IP address incorrectly, please let us know and we’ll investigate.

  11. […] my earlier post, “Why is Google sending me to France?”, I discussed a problem many people are experiencing at Google: Being redirected to another country […]

  12. lulu says:

    Update: I have been able to partially fix the problem via my ISP homepage, which happens to have a Google search box on the page. By logging in to my ISP’s homepage and then using their Google search box, I was able to get rid of most of the French redirects. I still see them on other websites, for example the weather site wunderground.com Interestingly, the only web search site that didn’t “redirect me to France” has been Yahoo. Hope this helps somebody else. Thanks Robert!

  13. You’re welcome, Lulu! Thanks for sharing that tip/solution of using Google search on your ISP’s home page. Perhaps Yahoo doesn’t use the GeoID system as much as some other search engines do.

  14. Aaron says:

    Thanks! This was driving me nuts!

  15. Nate says:

    I have been haveing the same problem only it is sending me to google.co.uk and my problem wasn’t as bad as yours due to the language issue but it’s been driving me nuts because all the pages it brings up are U.K. pages, and not U.S.

  16. Hi, Nate. I hope you read my follow-up article “Is Google sending you to foreign countries?” And thanks for sharing your experience here.

  17. nuhuphore says:

    I’m new to this blog. Apologize for asking this though, but to OP…
    Do you know if this can be true;
    http://www.bluestickers.info/ringtones.php ?
    it came off http://ringtonecarrier.com
    Thanks 🙂

  18. JK says:

    I’m having a similar problem with AOL. I want to go to AOL.com site; but it is redirecting me to AOL.CO.UK. (I am in the UK) How can I fix this?

  19. Hedge says:

    Love your blog! I’m following you on Twitter, too!

  20. […] google france skylarknetworks.com […]

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