Google's incredibly annoying search redirects

Clicking on legitimate-looking links often takes users (well, this user) to irrelevant sites

Has this ever happened to you? You do a search on Google and get a bunch of returns, some of which look promising. So far, so good. (Also see: Of course Google rigs search results to favor its own sites) Then you click on the headline of one of the search results, which also shows a legitimate link below the thumbnail description of the content contained within. But instead of being taken to the web page you want to see, you're "redirected" to an entirely different site, which more often than not is a marketing page trying to sell you something. I often use Google to do a quick search on something I've previously written in this blog. So I'll type in my name and a few keywords, and will almost always find what I'm looking for on the first page of results. And then things get crazy. Here's just one example: I just typed in "chris nerney" and "aol" and got this page of results. The top item looks like this (but with live links on the headline and URL):

'AOL Way' revealed: Screw quality, grind down staff | ITworld

Feb 1, 2011 ... The other details revealed in a leaked memo on "The AOL Way" ... Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies ... › all blogs › internet › news - Cached Now, I know that's a real link because I wrote the post. But when I click on the headline, I'm taken not to this page, but to "" -- which itself is a bad URL. What actually happens is I end up here. Then, when I hit my Mozilla "Back" button, I stay on that page. If I click on the URL history at the top of the browser, I see "redirect" listed as the previous link I visited. I have to manually skip over that to the search-results page to get back to where I started. Personally, I don't think the most popular search engine in the world should work like that. What I can't figure out is whether it's Google or some kind of code on my computer that's making it happen. If it's something on my computer, that'd be good information to have. This happens all the time, and it drives me crazy. I'll ping a couple of search experts I know and ask them what's going on. In the meantime, if any readers can shed light on this Google search mystery, I'd love to hear from you. And yes, I know how to do a search -- I've only been on the Internet 17 years -- so if that's going to be your contribution, Anonymous, shut up.

Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.

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