Marcus Tandler | Mediadonis | Just another Online-Marketing Superhero
 

Scary data

I was playing a little around with Google Trends for Websites this morning. Google states that

Trends for Websites combines information from a variety of sources, such as aggregated Google search data, aggregated opt-in anonymous Google Analytics data, opt-in consumer panel data, and other third-party market research.

Now I found something pretty scary (at least in my opinion…). I checked the data for my JOBlog (a german blog about job, career and jobboards in germany) -> here´s the query

As you can see, the No.1 website “also visited” is a site called “hamburg-lernt.de”

Google Trends for Websites Exhibit A

This site is also the No.1 outbound-click on JOBlog!
I´m using Google Analytics on JOBlog, and Joost´s incredible Google Analytics PlugIn for WordPress-Blogs. So I know pretty exactly which sites people click on and go to! Here´s a screenshot from my Google Analytics account:

Google Trends for Websites Exhibit B

As you can see, I referred 1.160 user this month to hamburg-lernt.de, and it´s my No.1 outbound-click!

How come this is my No.1 click? People, who are searching for “Lebenslauf” on Google (“CV” in german) – and trust me, those are quite a lot – are landing on my “Lebenslauf Vorlage” page on JOBlog (“Lebenslauf Vorlage” means something like “CV template”). And from there quite a lot of people (as you can see) click on this link ->

Google Trends for Websites Exhibit C

It means “more CV templates”, and the link goes to the pretty good site hamburg-lernt.de, which provides a couple of CV templates.

Google seems to use my Google Analytics data for the Google Trends for websites! Cause Hamburg-lernt.de is not on the first couple of pages, when you search for “Lebenslauf” or the likes. The only way, they could know, that the most people who were surfing on JOBlog did also visit hamburg-lernt.de is by my Google Analytics data.

Ok ok – I pretty much opted in, for this data to be used, when I agreed to the new benchmarking feature. But I didn´t know, that I´d also be used at Google Trends for Websites (since this product wasn´t even live then!). But Google clearly states:

16. How are you using Google Analytics data?
The Google Analytics data in Trends for Websites comes from the anonymous opt-in data sharing setting in Google Analytics. This setting enables website owners to share their data in an anonymous form.

So I pretty much got only myself to blame in this case, but it´s still scary as hell! Because that means, if you opted-in for the benchmarking, you´re pretty much sharing your clickout-data with the rest of the world – and it´s not “anonymous“, since your data is the only data they can use here to get those results!

Well, I don´t really care in this case, since JOBlog is just a private blog of mine, BUT if you´re using Google Analytics on your website, and don´t want to share your data with everybody else, who´s smart enough to use Google Trends for websites, you might want to opt-out of the “anonymous” benchmarking.

11 Comments on "Scary data"

  1. Evert sagt:

    Hi Marcus,

    It’s really scary and I am sure that almost everybody opted-in on Google Analytics Data Sharing because of the benchmark feature in Analytics. It was very clever of Google to ask this permission and release the benchmark feature at the same time.
    But you’re right we have to blame ourselves for this if they wrote it down when we agreed to share the data (are you sure they did at that point?)

    Anyway it’s funny to see that in Holland I see only positive responses on the new feature. In Germany, which is much more “privacy focussed”, we call it scary. I think it is scary (although I am dutch :-) )

  2. http://trends.google.com/websites?q=hamburg-lernt.de&sa=N
    Also searched for
    1. lebenslauf

    Is an even better proof that they’re sharing alot of your data with others…

    I’ll definitely disable data sharing in Analytics…

  3. How can we be sure analytics’ benchmarking is to blame and not the google toolbar? Google trends for websites is a lot like alexa, and way more people use the Google toolbar than the alexa toolbar. Could it be the toolbar sharing the data?

  4. Sebastian sagt:

    Nice catch and pretty sick! Well….I guess I am checking out my competition now.

  5. ThomasB sagt:

    > since your data is the only data they can use here to get those results!

    They still got the data from millions of Toolbar users that would show them the same.

  6. Markus sagt:

    I run a website where the “also visited websites” fit the clickouts quite well too. But i don´t use Google Analytics on this website.

  7. Starsky sagt:

    I think they actually gather that data from the Google Toolbar. I use Analytics on two sites and have never agreed to that benchmarking thing (too scary :-) ). However, the results I see in Trends for Websites are very similar to what you’ve observed here.

    Cheers, Starsky

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