Google announced yesterday that they are going to change their privacy policies and consolidate more than 60 of them into one document. Cool, right? Well, the change comes with a new “benefit” for Google users – that they will track you across multiple services. Google will follow you across search, Google+, YouTube, gmail, and any other property they own including Android phones. That’s right, if you have an Android phone you’re required to sign in with a Google account. Oh, the best part, you cannot opt out. If you use any of their services, you have to be spied on. Don’t get me wrong, Google was always collecting data about you and your online behavior, but now they have more ability to stitch that information into a comprehensive profile. For example, they plan on sending you a notification that you might be late for a scheduled meeting based on your current location, your calendar appointment, and the current traffic conditions on the route from your location to your meeting. Neat, but very creepy if unsolicited. Don’t even get me started on what this means for their ability to advertise to you. Scary.
Not only will Google become more intrusive into their users lives, it also means big things to SEOs because of an an even bigger loss of referrer data in analytics. Google Analytics used to report on all the keywords that people used to find your site in Google’s search engine. This is very important to measure the importance and ROI of your organic campaign. They recently changed analytics to “protect” Google users data by removing referrer information for any logged in user. (Protect, or hoard the data?) That means that anytime a Google user is logged in they do not send keyword data to analytics and people like me have no idea what they searched to find our sites. When Google requires more people to be logged in, more organic keyword information will be lost and being an SEO will become even more difficult.
Guess what data isn’t impacted… Adwords. That’s right. If you pay for advertisements on Google, you get your referrer data. Free = no data. Paid = data. I think I see a trend here and I don’t like it. They are trying to choke us out in favor of making a few more bucks. I wonder how long until there are no “free” organic results on the first page at all. I can see it now – a list of paid advertisements on the first page which are disguised so well that people don’t notice and all organic results pushed to page two. Google has already pushed the number four organic listing “below the fold” for many users (depending on screen size) by expanding the blank space at the top of the page. Basically they added 40px worth of blank space that pushed off an organic result so paid ads were more prominent. This is even worse for queries that have local relevance and Google Maps results push organic all the way off the page.
I also wonder what this change means to websites that currently embed things from Google products like YouTube, Google Custom Search, Analytics, Adsense, etc. If a user has to be logged in to access any Google service, won’t that mean that these embedded services won’t work for people who aren’t logged in?
I don’t like Larry Page’s Google. It’s getting evil.