Google Website Trends & The Death of Privacy

Google launched a new version of Google Trends which includes website traffic estimates, and highlights....

  • visitor locations
  • top keywords
  • related sites

You need to be logged into a Google account to get a numerical scale on the traffic graph, but you can still get the general trend graphs and other data without logging in. Google also allows you to compare up to 5 sites at any given time

Search Engine Land reported that Google Trends...

This tool bases its data off Google search data, aggregated opt-in anonymous Google Analytics data, opt-in consumer panel data, and other third-party market research.

Those who wondered why using Google Analytics is a bad idea just got a taste of why it is a bad idea! Sure the data is only aggregated anonymously, but with Google owning 70% of the search market and having access to your analytics data you never know how deep they could decide to go through the data for competitive purposes. Is your site a keyword source for AdWords? How much of your data will appear on Google Trends?

You can't export the data yet and it only shows data for high traffic sites, but it is a great free tool for marketers.

  • If sites do not show any data then they are probably either low traffic sites or penalized.
  • The related sites feature lets you know how related your audience is to other sites, which is useful for determining how familiar their audience is or if you are reaching a new audience when buying ads.
  • The top keywords shows you what competing sites are getting traffic from, and if those terms tend to be more brand oriented or more generic in nature...which is useful when thinking about the stability of a website you may want to purchase.

Fred Wilson did a review of Google Trends, comparing Google Analytics to and comScore across 3 high traffic websites.

Since we are investors in these three companies and know what their internal numbers are saying, I can safely say that ComScore and Compete are lower but directionally correct. Google is like Alexa in that they don't report absolute numbers but even if they did, they are not directionally correct on this particular set of companies.

The fact that Google is even compared to the analytics firms with years of experience and algorithmic tuning shows how easily they could take a leading position in this market if they wanted it. Google will improve their accuracy, and at any point in time they could chose to expand the top 10 keywords to the top 100 or top 1,000.

The AP threatened to sue a blogger for quoting small passages, and at the same time the mainstream media is trying to redefine copyright for their own benefit. Eventually much of the mainstream media will start looking like eHow and Mahalo. Your content compiled and slightly rewritten by a third party. Your keyword list is their money list. Thousands of people are competing against you while you read this sentence. As your data leaks it is going to be tough to stay competitive unless you are often the topic of conversation. Public Relations is the only PR that matters.

I am probably a bit less pessimistic than Michael is at the moment, but firms are using G.P.S. data to create "reality mining" for offline analytics, predicting everything from traffic patterns, where to buy an ad, and where to place another store. A recent NYT article highlighted some such services:

Tony Jebara, also 34, the chief scientist and another co-founder of Sense, said, “We can predict tourism, we can tell you how confident consumers are, we can tell retailers about, say, their competitors, who’s coming in from particular neighborhoods.”

The idea of staying competitive through obscurity is obsolete. So you may as well be a loud mouth, encourage users to be loud mouths, and build a big brand that helps protect your plot from competitive market forces.

Published: June 23, 2008 by Aaron Wall in google


June 23, 2008 - 8:49am

An interesting take and definitely less pessimistic than some. I'm actually thrilled about this new feature in Google Trends. It allows me to mine Google data to gain a competitive advantage in my market vertical.

That being said, I agree that major media will begin to leverage all of this data against the smaller entities, so like you, I'm hard at work pushing the PR (public relations) machine and building my brand.

I'll let other sit around contemplating things like semantic web, because I'm too busy preparing myself for major media's attempts to control the internet the way they control TV, radio, and print.

June 23, 2008 - 9:56am

I believe you are incorrect. (Yeah, there's a first time for everything) In my experience, this data is all from the Google Toolbar.

June 23, 2008 - 12:15pm

Hi Geiger
I did not say that this data comes entirely from Google Analytics, just that they could use more of that data if they felt that it was in their business interests.

Also on Search Engine Land they said that Google used many sources including anonymized analytics they are already using it to some extent.

June 24, 2008 - 9:21am

I came back to post that I'm wrong! It seems like a lot of this data does come from Google Analytics. However you have to opt in or out of it.

Took a few screen shots.

June 23, 2008 - 1:04pm

Hi Aaron,

Another good post. A couple of questions:

1. Are you doing members-only blog posts as part of your premium service?

2. "Public Relations is the only PR that matters." ... given this is an emergent theme on this blog, is there any point where the "SEO" part of "Seobook" starts to become secondary or even irrelevant to the business you have built around this blog? (I'm assuming 'Public Relations' has not been traditionally considered what 'SEO' practitioners do.)

June 23, 2008 - 1:27pm

Hi Chris

1.) Mostly featured articles rather than blog posts. I think the articles are a bit more thought through and filtered than most of my blog posts are.

2.) I am not so concerned with what is commonplace as I am with what is effective. My goal is to do whatever it takes to rank where I want to rank. Part of that comes down to content quality, part of that comes down to public relations, and part of that might even be domaining, buying ppc ads, or offline marketing. I don't care what happens in the middle so long as it turned out profitable out the other side. :)

June 23, 2008 - 2:46pm

Now we know what Google Analytics' meant when they urged users to "opt in to data sharing". They pitched 'data sharing' as a way to get benchmark data for your own use, but look what they did with it...nice spin. Aaron, you're totally bang on: brand is the only long-term safe haven for competitive advantage

June 25, 2008 - 6:52pm

Hi Aaron!
We already wrote some parameters to use it in SeoQuake , so you can see all Gtrends data just in SERP or when you surfing . You can get them here
You should be logged in to your google account to get data.

April 20, 2009 - 2:51am

I;ve noticed some sites block themself from google trend.Do you have any idea how they did this?

April 21, 2009 - 1:02am

I don't know how they are blocking it other than being owned by Google, or being below Google's threshold. Large AdWords advertisers might have some leeway as well.

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