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February 1, 2022 (Updated: May 4, 2023)
Many companies use data collection and analysis to better understand their consumers and how to improve their products and services, and Google is no different. Google collects data for many reasons that benefit its users, as well as business owners. Whether you’re trying to understand more about Google’s data collection or you’re trying to use that data to benefit your business, it’s important to know what data Google collects and how it uses that information. In this guide, we discuss:
Google data is the information the company collects about its users. It collects this data through its apps, browsers, and devices to better understand how people behave and what interests them. Google then uses this information to improve the functionality of its apps, personalize and target its advertisements, and continue to develop its search algorithm.
Google collects an extensive amount of data on its users and stores that information for later use and analysis. The company breaks down that collected data into three primary subjects:
Foremost, if you use any of Google’s apps or devices, including its browser, Chrome, you are giving the company information, even unintentionally. Those apps can include:
These apps give the company information, such as what type of device you’re using, the operating system, and what mobile network your phone is using. They can also collect information on the applications or devices you use to access Google’s apps or pair with them. This includes information like your IP address and system activity.
If you fill out any personal information on these apps, like your name, phone number, credit card number, or address, Google collects that as well. It even collects and stores the content you create, such as the videos you upload, emails you write, or documents you develop on Google Drive.
Some Google apps and devices might use location tracking when open, or even in the background when the app is closed. Most often, applications like Google Maps or Google Search use this form of data collection to display relevant or local search results to people and provide directions to places in their area.
Google keeps track of every activity you perform on their apps, devices, and browsers while searching and using the internet. Whenever you watch a video, conduct a search, interact with ads or content, and make a purchase, Google collects and stores that information. Google Chrome also manages and keeps track of your search history, which can inform them about the sites you visit and how long you’re on each one.
Here’s a list of steps to help you access the data Google’s gathered on your account:
First, go to your Google account page and log in with your Google information. Once you’re logged in, the homepage looks like this:
Seeing this page lets you know you’ve logged in successfully and that you’re going to view the information for the correct account.
From the menu bar on the left side of the screen, click on “Data & privacy.” This section of your account provides options about your privacy through the service. It’s where Google stores options about your data collection and usage.
On the “Data & privacy” page, scroll down to the section labeled “History settings.”
Here you can see the three primary sources of data collection that Google stores:
Google displays a link to each of these sources at the bottom of your history settings. Clicking on any of them brings you to the same page that lists your history and web activity in greater detail.
If you scroll down a little further on the “Data & privacy” page, you can find the section titled “Data from apps and services you use.”
In this section, you can review content that Google collects about the applications you use and how you use them. There are two main areas of this section to explore:
If you want to remove a third-party app from the latter section, simply click on the app you want to remove. This will bring up more information about what the app can access, as well as a button that says “Remove Access.”
Clicking on this button will revoke the app’s access to your data. If you don’t recall giving one of these apps your permission, you can also report them by following the presented “Report This App” link at the bottom.
Google uses your data to give people better experiences with its apps. It also uses the data to determine what areas of its services or products it needs to update to improve its customer satisfaction. Google applies your data to its products and services in a few different ways, including:
One of the main reasons Google collects and stores your data is to create targeted advertisements that interest you. The information it stores and uses includes your:
Google might show you some of these targeted advertisements on its search engine results page (SERP) or on other websites that you visit. Google might also give this information to other companies and businesses so they can better understand who’s most likely to buy their products and services. Then, those companies can also develop advertisements that interest you to attract you to their website and brand.
Related: The Ultimate Guide To Ad Campaigns
When using some of Google’s apps and services, like its search engine or maps app, it might use location tracking to uncover more relevant search results. For example, if you search “restaurants in my area” but Google doesn’t know where you are, it might not provide the best or most accurate information. Using your location data, Google can give you more accurate search results and provide you with a better user experience.
To ensure its search engine is accurate and helpful, Google uses people’s data to improve its search algorithms and deliver quality results. For instance, let’s say many people click a link on the SERP, but don’t stay on the webpage for very long. That will increase the web page’s bounce rate, which Google can note. Seeing that the bounce rate is high, Google might realize the page isn’t answering the search query and lower its ranking. (Note that sometimes a high bounce rate isn’t bad. It may just mean that the visitor found exactly what they were looking for quickly.)
If Google notices major issues with its search engine based on user data, it might also create an algorithm update to fix any problems and ensure everything is running smoothly.
Google uses your data and the searches you make to understand trends and deliver insightful information about what’s currently popular. It compiles all of this information on the website, Google Trends. Here, people can look up different search queries and keywords to see their current popularity. They can also see which topics are currently trending. Though this information is interesting for a lot of reasons, it’s most helpful to companies and brands who perform content marketing. Understanding current trends allows businesses to create content people are searching for, so they can attract more people to their site.
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After Google collects and analyzes your data, it often uses it to improve its apps and services. That’s because the data can inform Google about problems with its applications. It can also help improve usability through data by generating other types of useful information. For instance, Google Search has a feature that informs people how busy a restaurant or business is during certain hours of the day. Using data, such as location tracking, Google can determine how many people are at a business at one given time. They can then relay this helpful information to searchers.
It’s understandable that Google’s collection of data may scare people or make them hesitant to use the service. After all, it’s a little uneasy to read through everything the company collects on us. But Google is also very open about the information it retrieves and how the company uses it. That’s why Google makes the data so accessible and customizable through your account page.
Some people also worry if Google sells the personal data that it captures to other organizations. The company does not directly sell your information to people or businesses, like your address, phone number, or credit card number. However, Google gives information and data to advertisers and businesses, but it always remains anonymous. Google doesn’t say, “Hey! Frank in Florida just searched for your business online. Here’s his phone number. Call him.” Instead, it delivers general information to a business about its website visitors, what type of people view its webpage, and the general demographic of its target audience.
It’s never a simple thing to accept when a large tech company collects your information and shares it with other companies or businesses. Though not inherently dangerous, if you’re uneasy about Google taking, holding, or sharing your information, it provides ways for you to turn off its data collection. Here’s a list of steps to help you delete any data Google’s collected about you and turn off any further data collection:
Just like in the previous how-to section, go to your Google account page and log in with your credentials. Then, navigate to the “Data & privacy” section displayed on the left-hand menu. From there, scroll down to the “History settings” section on the webpage.
Under “History settings”, click on “Web & App Activity.” This will open a webpage that allows you to turn off Google’s data tracking for the websites and applications you use. Simply click “Turn Off.”
Google then presents you with another pop-up window. Read through the information on the screen. Then, when you’re ready, click “Pause.”
Finally, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on “Manage all Web & App Activity.” This opens a webpage that allows you to delete any existing data Google currently has on your web and application history. Scroll down until you reach the top of your web and app activity summary. To the right, click on “Delete.”
A window appears that allows you to choose the timeframe of data you’d like to delete. If you want to remove all of your data, click “All time” and confirm the request.
Once you’ve finished deleting all the data from your web and app activity, go back to your “History settings” on your “Data & privacy” page. Under “Web & App Activity” are two more options: “Location History” and “YouTube History.” Follow the same steps as above to turn off tracking for these last two options and delete the data Google’s collected on you.
After you turn off all data tracking and delete your information, go back to the main “Data & privacy” page. Then, scroll down past the “History settings” until you reach the box titled “Ad settings.” Clicking on this box brings you to a webpage that shows you all the data Google’s collected about you as a consumer. This includes your age, gender, and interests.
Google uses this information to display more relevant advertisements to you on its search engine and other services. Turning ad personalization off will stop Google from using this data to display advertisements. However, it won’t necessarily delete the information or stop Google from collecting it. But it will stop Google from using the data with its services and targeting you with specific ads.
There are a few benefits to Google’s data collection, which include:
The major benefits that Google’s data collection gives to people are through how the company uses it for personalization, as listed above. Creating more personalized ads, improving usability, and displaying more relevant search results allows people to have a better experience with Google and the products and services it offers.
Though the collection might seem invasive, it’s all geared at providing people with a more customized and tailored experience. Do you want to know how busy your favorite restaurant is? Do you want to see how long it will take to get downtown? Maybe you want to know when your favorite brand puts its products on sale? Allowing Google to understand you and your preferences allows it to display this information and improve how you use its features.
Google also helps business owners improve their marketing efforts by sharing information about their consumers and current online trends. This allows businesses to attract their target audience more effectively. That’s because Google uses the data it collects in services like Google Analytics, Ads, and Trends, which companies can use and explore to create better advertisements and marketing materials. For example, if a business wants to figure out if its content is improving its conversion rate, it can use Google Analytics to see how long visitors stay on its webpage and if they navigate to another area of the website.
If Google notices people stay on the webpage for a while but then leave, companies may want to place more effective calls to action on the page. Trying to understand the data Google’s giving you and how it can improve your content marketing campaign? CopyPress has a team of experts who can decipher Google’s data and help you put it to good use. Schedule a free call with us today to improve your content and boost your marketing efforts.
Related: Google Analytics: Everything You Need To Know
Understanding the data that Google collects and gives to businesses can help you manage your privacy more efficiently. It can also help you improve the marketing efforts of your business by creating more effective advertisements and marketing materials. This can allow you to attract your target audience, improve your conversion rate, and hopefully increase your sales at the same time.
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