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.