March 31, 2020

Google Personalized HomePage At Work

When I switched the DNS for some of my sites I noticed something weird. One such Internet provider couldn’t access my sites. If I went to a proxy site I could access them with no problem, but if I tried to access them directly they didn’t load.

The problem was due to a slow DNS refresh by my ISP.

Anyway, during this time I also noticed that my Google Personalized Homepage also didn’t load widgets from those sites but Google translator and the GoogleBot had no problem visiting them. This means that the Google homepage must have been using some client side technology like JavaScript to load all the widgets and feeds. No big deal right?

After testing some common workplace spying software I noticed a weird fact. Every RSS feed or widget I load on my Personalized Homepage shows up in the logs as if I visited that site directly.

I’m not sure if this is a bug with Google’s Personalized Homepage or if it’s more a bug in the workplace tracking software (I’m willing to bet the problem is with the latter software.)

This can have some pretty bad effects for those of you who use Google Personalized Homepage at work – especially if you have a draconian boss who measures productivity by the amount of keystrokes you type.

For me, my last employer was seeing 15 or so website requests every time I loaded up Google to search for something (which in the course of a workday happened often)

If you work for a company that says things like “well, you took 2 bathroom breaks and a lunch so you need to stay at least an hour after today” then you’re probably better off NOT using things like the personalized homepage at work.

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About Ryan Jones

Ryan Jones is an SEO from Detroit. By day he works as a manager of SEO & Analytics at SapientNitro where his team performs SEO for Fortune500 clients. By night he's either playing hockey or attempting to take over the world with his own websites - which he would have already succeeded in doing had it not been for those meddling kids and their dog. The views expressed here have not been paid for and belong only to Ryan, not any of his employers or clients. Follow Ryan on Twitter at: @RyanJones, add him on Google+ or visit his personal website: www.RyanMJones.com