Google’s New Privacy Policy Launched March 1st

We are now nine days into Google’s new Privacy Policy and some may say nine days closer to a more privatized version of Orwell’s 1984. Others are enthusiastic about the marketing opportunities and ease of access finding the information and products you are thought, and probably quite accurately so, to be searching for. Wherever you land on this issue, Google’s assertion in a blog post on January 24th that “This stuff matters...” is probably the best way of paraphrasing it.

Basically, what is happening is that Google is collecting and consolidating data from all the Google services you use to make an assumption, or an educated guess as to what kind of ads and search results to return to you based on that data. This includes Google products like your Google Calendar, Gmail account and contacts, and your Google Docs.

So, for example, an email you wrote to your cousin Jane from your Gmail account about how wonderful the trip to Joshua Tree was, might result in “Rock Climbing Adventure Packages” ads in the paid ads section of your Google search results. This is a simplified example of some very complicated data collection and utilization practices going on behind the scenes, and again, across all of your Google accounts. Below is Google’s own video explanation.

If this leaves you feeling a bit uneasy there are steps you can take to minimize the data that is collected such as turning off the setting that allows Google to record your search data (www.google.com/history), or make sure your Ads Preference Manager, if enabled, is configured the way you want it. Be aware of what you’re searching for and what is collected. Login only when necessary and be sure to logout when you are finished. A majority of Google products and services can be accessed without ever signing in.

In the end if you feel more comfortable using a different search engine with a privacy policy more to your liking you can use Google’s own Data Liberation Front to export your personal data from Google’s products (http://www.dataliberation.org/).

Leaving aside the controversial, albeit very relevant, aspects of this ongoing internet privacy debate the impact of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) cannot be ignored. We believe this signals a noteworthy shift by Google towards including more SMM (Social Media Marketing) in their search algorithms. By collecting data from Google Plus, Youtube, Gmail and other social services the results that are being returned to web surfers by the world’s largest (by far) search engine are relying less heavily on on-page optimization and traditional link building (although those are still very important factors).

Companies looking to promote a product or service cannot ignore the impact of social, or viral marketing due to the ever-evolving “personalization” of search. So, again, the playing field shifts slightly and we will certainly be following this issue closely and reporting back to you as this recent development unfolds and its impact is assessed.