Google – First the Carrot and Then the Stick!

If you’ve been in the web industry as long as I have (since 2001) you would have seen Google’s purchase of Urchin Statistics which became Google Analytics. It used to be that a website owner very carefully guarded their website activity; what generated clicks, page paths, traffic, and trends. When Google offered Google Analytics to the world for free, nearly every website owner flocked to implement this free application that previously was only available to those willing to pay $500 a month for a subscription. Voilà the carrot!

Google gave us the carrot with Google Analytics. The Stick?
Google gave us the carrot with Google Analytics. The Stick?

Little did we know that sharing our website statistical information would in the long run impact our own organic placement on Google.com. In this age of Snowden and the NSA and the harvesting of big data, one would have to be very naive to think that Google, having access to all this previously closely guarded information would not include some of this data into their algorithm to determine organic placement. Personally based on patent disclosures over the years, I could see that Google was patenting using click through rates to help to determine organic page rank. With over 200 factors impacting organic placement and Google having data from Google Analytics available for their own purposes, it only makes sense that by taking the carrot we’ve allowed Google to use the stick on us in regards to our own website placement.

By potentially using our own data as well as click through data from Google.com activity to rack and stack websites is not that far of a reach in today’s world. Although I don’t believe that our own data is being used maliciously to hurt our own placement by Google, it makes sense that Google is using aggregate data by industry and possibly even  our own website statistics as just one piece of their own racking and stacking algorithm.

It all started with Google Analytics, when we as webmasters shared this private information with Google. Little did we know years later that this same information might be used to lower or raise our own rankings. I do not have definitive information that Google is using Google Analytics data in their algorithm, but it would make sense for them to use aggregate data to develop benchmarks by industry so as to evaluate the importance of websites and rankings within that industry; just my thoughts for today.

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