Google Analytics and the Google patent

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Over at The Site is Dead, Matt Roche is having an interesting conversation about whether Google Analytics can be used by Google to raise your prices. Why, he asks, would you want to give your vendor all that inside info?

However, I don’t think that the goal of GA is to learn the inside scoop in order to raise prices. True, Google sets a minimum price for AdWords and I am sometimes appalled to see it come up as $5.00. But that is always for words that have almost no clickthrough. Busy, competitive terms have prices that are primarily (but, I will grant, not exclusively) market based.

I think we are forgetting all about the Google patent from March 2005. Specifically, let’s look at Claims 37 and Claims 45-47.

Claim 37 refers to ” an amount of time that one or more users spend accessing the document.” It is possible that they were referring to how slow your connection is, but I doubt it — they probably meant, web pages that visitors spend more time on get extra points in the Google search. And how do they know how long individuals spend on a web page, if not by looking at the site owner’s web analytics?

Claims 45-47 reference whether users do things to indicate that they like the site:

  • Claim 45: Did the user “maintain or generate data indicating that the document is of interest to a user?” To my non-lawyerly mind, that translates to, did the user print the document? Export it to another format? Forward to a friend?
  • Claim 46: Did the user add it to his bookmarks/favorites?
  • Claim 47: Are users maintaining or generating data (i.e. doing the things they reference above in Claim 45) at a faster or slower rate than before?

If you wanted to know data like these in order to do a better job of ranking websites, wouldn’t it make sense to buy a web analytics company and then give away the software for free?

Robbin Steif
LunaMetrics

Our owner and CEO, Robbin Steif, started LunaMetrics twelve years ago. She is a graduate of Harvard College and the Harvard Business School, and has served on the Board of Directors for the Digital Analytics Association. Robbin is a winner of a BusinessWomen First award, as well as a recent Diamond Award for business leadership. You should read her letter before you decide to work with us.

  • Dave Morgan @ SiteSpect

    I’ll bet Google can sooner (and more easily) get time-on-page stats using the standard Google Toobar (you know, pagerank indicator).

    If you’ve got Google Toolbar installed and running, then every non-SSL page you visit has its URL transmitted to toolbarqueries.google.com, which maintains a persistant cookie in your browser (mine expires 2038).

    According to the Google Toolbar privacy policy:

    In addition, we use log information about aggregate Toolbar usage to improve the quality of Toolbar and other Google services.

    Seems about as open ended as the Google Analytics policy. And since it’s been around for a several years, I bet they have alot of data.

    -Dave Morgan

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