Should Google be happy about the FTC complaint?

How having an FTC complaint filed against Google might even be welcomed by the Search Giant


photo by Meredith Farmer

In my last post I wrote about  Christopher Soghoian‘s FTC complaint (PDF) against Google and why I think he is addressing the wrong organisation if he’s so concerned about the referrer data.

In that article I listed the problems faced by Google if they want to encrypt all traffic to and from their flagship product, namely technical constraints, cost and user experience. What I didn’t mention is that this move might not be so bad for Google after all. Assuming they can solve all the problems, which they are obviously striving to do, providing their users with better privacy will also help Google to get an advantage over their competitors.

As Rhea has written on the Outspoken Media blog, the keyword (not provided) which is reported by the encrypted Google Search might be the best sales tool for Google’s Webmaster Tools. Right, except that Google does not sell the Webmaster Tools or usage licenses for it – at least not yet.

I think the keyword (not provided) is an even better sales tool for Google Analytics. Connecting your Analytics and your Webmaster Tools account does provide the search queries information right inside of Analytics. That is something no other web analytics provider will be able to deliver. As long as your browser transmits referrer data including the search keywords from Google to the target web site Piwik, Omniture, Web Trends, Unica and other web analytics tools can report on the search keywords that have driven traffic to your site. With the keyword being stripped from the referrer, this information will be lost. Lost for all but one analytics provider: Google.

The same is true for ad networks which also rely on the referrer data to get information about relevant keywords. Again, these are competing with Google who is selling AdWords and AdSense ads and since 2010 also provides retargeting.

And Google can say they did all of this only to provide their users more privacy.


Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.