Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Google started using its Monopolistic Powers? Do No Evil?

On Monday, I wrote about Google Trends for Websites, a tool that lets you trend and compare unique visitor counts for websites.

It combines data from 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. Remember, a while back Google asked you to opt-into data sharing in Google Analytics, this is one place where your data is being used.

If you don’t want your site to be listed in this tool because you don’t want you competitors to know how you are doing, then how do you opt-out?

Let’s assume that you are using Google Analytics and have opted-in to Google Analytics Data Sharing. In that case Google should be using your Google Analytics data to show your site starts in Google Trends, that is more accurate than any other kind of data (well sort of). So if you do opt-out from Google Analytics data sharing, Google will revert to other sources of data e.g. toolbar, Google search data etc, which means you will still be listed in Google Trends for Websites.

The only way to completely remove your site from Google Trends from websites is by opting-out of Google Search engine by using a robot.txt to not let googlebot crawl your site. Remember, by doing so you will probably loose a good chuck of you traffic, traffic that comes via Google search engine. And why would you do that? In other words, you don’t have a choice. You are opted-in in Google Trends for websites by default and you have no way out. (Note, even if you could opt-out of Google Trends, competitors can still find out about your traffic etc using other services such as comScore but this one is Free so makes your data widely available).

On the other hand Google Properties such as Google.com, Orkut, do not have to follow the same process. According to Google, "We do not show Google.com properties on Trends for Websites. We have policy of not providing interim financial guidance, and have decided not to release Google numbers in accordance with that policy." Hmmm...what about other companies? Should Google not respect their policy?

Now won’t you call using (abusing) your monopolistic power?


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  1. Hi Anil,

    A couple of questions:

    From your previous article: "Google cookies which will be on almost every single computer connected to the internet".

    How is this tracking such a sure thing? If you mean that Google Cookies are there by the means of google.com .. then if google.com drops a cookie - only possibly GA, DoubleClick and other Google javascript code will be able to pick it up (by default the browsers allow 3rd party cookies). However, the sites that are not "Google Aware" (no google code at all in the pages) can not be tracked - right?

    Second question is: how can web crawlers "track" website usage? You seem to imply that if you open up your site for google search crawlers - you are in effect also allowing them to measure your site traffic. I dont understand how this is possible.

  2. "(Note, even if you could opt-out of Google Trends, competitors can still find out about your traffic etc using other services such as comScore but this one is Free so makes your data widely available)."

    How is making data, that is already available via other sources, free an abuse of power?

  3. Marcvs6:19 AM

    It's not monopolistic power if there are numerous other free and non-free sources to get tracking data. If people don't like how Google does their measurement, there are many other (better) sources from which to get this data.

  4. Rajeev,

    1. The reason I say Google cookie will be everywhere is because google has tools (Google adsense, adwords, GA, Google Checkout Doublclick etc.) that are used on majority of the sites on the internet, then there is Google Toolbar which covers the sites which do not have other Google tools. More Google tools will be coming soon which will fill any remaining gaps. So any sites that are not "Google aware" will still be tracked via Google cookie.

    2. Good question, Google web crawler can not track website usage but Google has made it to appear so, what they are saying is that if you do not want your website to be listed in Google Trends you have to exclude the google bot for indexing your site. But this logic does not apply to any of the Google sites. They know it is not possible for sites to not let Google crawl their site, they will loose a big chunk of their traffic if they do so. Won't you call this using monopolistic power? I know you can't live without me so I will use my power the way I like it.


    It is not monopolistic because of not making the data available for free is the abuse of power. Actually it is great. However monopolistic power is used when Google is saying “I can’t show my data but I will show everybody else”. And if you don’t want to be listed in Google Trends then we will wipe out your site from Google search engines. (see answer to 2 above).


    See answer to question number 2 of Rajeev.


I would like to hear your comments and questions.