Google knows A LOT about you — significantly more than you’d think. Every search you do on Google is recorded and tied to you. They track each result you click on and approximately how long you spend on each one. They know what youtube videos you watch. If you use gmail, they analyze your emails and extract numerous data points about you. You might have assumed all these things were being tracked and analyzed but it goes a little bit deeper.
Google has a product called Google Analytics. A service that webmasters use to track detailed analytics about who visits their site. It includes how often, what pages you visit and much much more. There are over 29 million websites using Google Analytics, 63.5% of the top million websites on the net use them. 52.3% of the top 10 million. This means that any time you visit one of these websites, what you view, how long you view it, is all tracked by Google.
Additionally, Google has the largest online advertising platform. Every site that displays ads from the Google network tracks a little bit more about where you are on the internet.
Now Google has a general, “Don’t be evil” policy, although that motto was recently dropped from the code of conduct of the new Alphabet company. Despite dropping it, they still have a “do the right thing” stance and culture. Google collects all this information about you to provide improved advertising and browsing experience. But the thought of a company that knows almost every detail about you might make you uneasy. Just because they won’t do something evil with that data, doesn’t mean that someone else wouldn’t. If someone were to gain access to your Google account, they could download a lot of this data using a download feature Google offers.
You may want to download a copy of your data just as a good backup measure or out of curiosity.
You can see some interesting information about your usage of Google searches by visiting:
If you are interested in opting out of a lot of Google’s tracking, there are several places you need to do it, and it is kind of confusing. Be warned though, opting out of these will degrade your Google experiences. For example, ads will be less relevant to you and recommendations will not be personalized.
For YouTube, you’d need to pause your search and watch history. These needs to be done on Youtube and on Google History. I’m not sure it was designed that way, but based on my testing, you need to do it at both. Here they are:
If you want to opt-out of Google Analytics online tracking, you will need to use the following plugin from Google:
To opt-out of Google Ad personalization and demographics use these two sites:
To opt-out of multiple other online advertising tracking and personalization beyond Google, you may want to use the following plugin: