Google: We Don't Do Pop-ups

Kudos to Google. Bucking what seems to be an ever more pervasive trend toward shoving obnoxious pop-up windows in users' faces, the company has issued a public statement stating that the search engine does not allow pop-up ads of any kind on its site.

Nonetheless, you may see pop-ups when using Google. Why?

Three reasons, according to Matt Cutts, Google software engineer.

First, there are a number of squatter sites with URLs similar to Google's that use pop-ups. Second, many sites are now using "pop-under" windows that open and are only revealed when you close other windows. Though these ads may appear to have been generated by Google, they are actually cyber-litter left by a site you previously visited.

The third and most pernicious reason is that some free programs, especially music or file sharing programs, contain tiny "time bombs" that can show pop-ups at random intervals or based on anything you type into a form on a web page, whether Google or some other interactive site.

Google took the step of posting its policy after investigating an increasing number reports regarding the problem in recent months. "We said, let's make clear what our policy is so that people know that it's not Google that's doing it," said Cutts.

The complete policy is available from a link under the search box on Google's home page, that will only be available for a short time. "We view this more as a defensive action," said Cutts. "We're not trying to say that Google's on the warpath against these programs."

Nonetheless, Google provides contact information for the Federal Trade Commission to file a complaint if you feel a pop-up window you're seeing has been generated by a site or program that uses deceptive or unfair business practices.


Click the "Google does not display pop-up advertising. Here's why" link beneath the search box for more information. Note: Google said this is a temporary link, only availble for a "few more" days from the home page.

Read on for a quick tip to quickly kill pop-ups that interfere with your web browsing.

Introducing SearchDay Quick Tips

My super searcher pal Gary Price repeats some words of wisdom in virtually every one of his presentations. Gary's advice is a variation on one of the five laws of librarianship -- specifically, law four, "Save the time of the reader."

Gary's restating of the law is geared toward searchers and those who help others find information online:

"Save the time of the searcher."

Starting today, SearchDay will run a new feature called "Quick Tips," simple but powerful techniques specifically aimed at helping you cut to the chase and quickly get to the information you're looking for. Quick Tips will cover the gamut from ideas for improving searching skills to pointers to tools or techniques.

Today's Quick Tip is courtesy of another super searcher, Greg Notess: How to kill pop-up windows in a flash.

I hate pop-up windows. Though they have some legitimate and reasonable uses, they're almost always irritating, they get in the way, and they slow down searching. I've experimented with different programs that block or kill pop-ups, but almost all require configuration, and sometimes they shut down those rare pop-up windows that you actually want to see. To my mind, these programs are more trouble than they're worth.

Greg's elegant solution: Use the "close window" keyboard shortcut, the Control-W command.

Though it takes a bit of practice, using the close window command will become as automatic as using the copy, paste and delete keyboard shortcuts. No add-ons to download, software to configure, or blocking content you may actually want to see. Instead, your reflexes will take over and kill pop-up windows automatically, virtually without conscious thought.

The close window command is also a handy way to quickly get out of "mousetrapped" sites that disable your browser's back button.

So next time an annoying pop-up interferes with your searching, blow it away with the Control-W command.

Search Headlines

NOTE: Article links often change. In case of a bad link, use the publication's search facility, which most have, and search for the headline.

School librarians get Web-savvy...
Nando Times Jan 30 2002 12:40PM GMT
Government, Big Business battling another foe: liberty... Jan 30 2002 6:46AM GMT
InfoSpace earnings per share hit targets...
CNET Jan 30 2002 1:34AM GMT
Online speculators, supporters invest in election-related domain names... Jan 30 2002 1:03AM GMT
Content Synchronization Patent Granted...
Content-Wire Jan 30 2002 12:59AM GMT
Japans Softbank sells SBC 3 pct of its Yahoo stake...
iWon Jan 30 2002 12:58AM GMT
Google distances itself from pop-ups...
ZDNet Jan 29 2002 11:19PM GMT
Lycos UK to charge for fast-track directory listings... Jan 29 2002 9:26PM GMT
Ways to get rid of online pop-up ads...
USA Today Jan 29 2002 7:09PM GMT
Telstra caught in online poll swindle...
ZDNet Jan 29 2002 2:11PM GMT
Moscow firm seeks dismissal of DMCA suit...
CNET Jan 29 2002 2:10PM GMT
Cookie monster bites Netscape and Mozilla users...
The Register Jan 29 2002 12:58PM GMT
Ski Utah Develops Search Engine Strategy to Push Slopes... Jan 28 2002 7:46AM GMT
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About the author

Chris Sherman is a frequent contributor to several information industry journals. He's written several books, including The McGraw-Hill CD ROM Handbook and The Invisible Web: Uncovering Information Sources Search Engines Can't See, co-authored with Gary Price. Chris has written about search and search engines since 1994, when he developed online searching tutorials for several clients. From 1998 to 2001, he was's Web Search Guide.