I reported a year or two back on a site that received the same number of visitors per week, within the margin of a single visitor, for something like 17 weeks in a row for a visitor count almost into 5 digits per week. I forget the exact details, but the repeatability was uncanny.
Not surprised at all...
They gather massive amounts of intelligence via their many beckons, and I mean MASSIVE.
To list a few.. Chrome, On-Page AdSense ad units, Analytics, Google toolbar, Picasa, Google Desktop search, Google "crash recovery" DLL which constantly appear in task manager for no apparent reason, the vast double-click network they've recently acquired and many many more beckons to list here.
They deliver some of their beckons into the target machines (read "average Joe") in a sleazy but ďfriendlyĒ like manner. The machines the've missed they track via thier almost 100% spread of online/on-pages beckons (ad blocks etc.)
For example, did you know that the Google spy bar is bundled with the latest flash update from adobe (same story with many other popular downloads like adobe reader etc.). A major, major source of millions of daily installations. Once the bar is installed they have a back door to that particular system and from this point on only the sky is the limit. (average Joe is often clueless as if to "tick" or "un-tick" the spy bar option which appear selected by default when asked to update the adobe flash player plug-in).
They also massively promote their chrome browser almost everywhere you go online.
Lately I noticed they even offer free download of "angry birds" (a very popular game) to users, BUT you guessed it right...user MUST install the chrome browser.
You see, from the data gathered they would know precisely what every machine is doing at any given moment online, they know exactly which web site you visit, your fields of interest, shopping habits and most importantly whether you are currently searching the web looking to shop for something. Knowing that, they are capable of virtually shifting massive amounts of viewers at any given moment and push them to exactly where they want them to be, where they, Google, can make the mo$t out of it. And that is precisely what they've been doing lately masquerading under (now) weekly "index updates".
I donít think it is too late to stop them yet and I sure hope this FTC enquiry will advance quickly. Google may have massive amounts of data already ghaterd but they are still in a "zombie acquisition" mode which has just started to accelerate recently.
I'm very surprised so many virus companies out their still havenít marked Google services as a potential treat...because thatís precisely what they've turned into on so many machines....a personal information gathering virus.
"Do no evil" my ar$e...