- Google Maps
There are a lot of Google properties out there that are very popular, so chances are that you are using at least some of them.
Why are they doing this?
According to Google, they are doing this for two primary reasons:
- They wanted to unify the user experience for Google users. By combining the data from all of your Google services, they can combine the benefits of various services to produce a better, more personal experience.
So, now the videos you watch and share on Youtube may affect the results of searches you do or the ads you see. Or perhaps an email from a friend requesting a meeting will cause Google to suggest putting that meeting on your Google Calendar and when Google Calendar reminds you of the meeting a few days later, it may send you driving directions from Google Maps that has been optimized by Google Traffic to get you to your meeting the quickest.
How does this effect SEO?
Google has been personalizing results more and more for years, now. This will further their ability to personalize search results as they can now use data from your calendar, Youtube history, Gmail emails, etc. to personalize your search results.
Should I be concerned?
Well, that is a debate that is raging on even as I type. On the one hand, some people think that the benefits in the functionality of Google products will outweigh any loss of privacy. Plus, Google already had all this personal data anyway; they just hadn’t combined it all. Others feel like Google and others are already tracking way to much personal data and that this is just one more step deeper into our personal lives. Depending on how many Google products you use, Google may know you better than your spouse.
I think Google is evil and trying to take over the world. What can I do to thwart them?
Here are a few ways you can limit Google’s tracking and use of your personal data if you want to:
- Stop using Google products. If you don’t use Google products, they can’t track you…probably
- Compartmentalize your products and services. Sure, not using Google products at all will solve the problem completely, but depending on how much you use Google products, this may be next to impossible. For example, if you have a Droid smart phone, guess what? That’s Google. If you use the Chrome web browser, that’s Google, too. What about Youtube, Google+, Google Analytics, Calendar, Maps….you get the point. So, the next best thing is to use Google less. The less you use Google products, the less data they will have on you. Maybe use Bing or DuckDuckGo for search. Use Yahoo or your own website’s email feature for email. You can choose an iPhone instead of a Droid. So on and so forth.
I’m not saying that you need to stop using Google or even opt-out of data tracking. What Google can do with the data may make their products and services better. In the end, you will need to decide how important you think it is to maintain your privacy online. This isn’t just a Google thing. Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, and many, many others track your online use of their services to some extent. After all, how much privacy do you think you can have if you use any social network (I.E. Facebook, Google+, Twitter)? The whole point is to share. The only way to completely maintain your privacy is to cut your Internet connection (please finish reading this article first 😉 ). There is a trade off and you have to decide where you draw the line.
So, let me ask you.
- Will you change what products you use or even stop using Google altogether?
- Do you think this isn’t that big of a deal because what’s the worst Google can do…offer you more targeted ads?
Let me know what you think.