Google, Facebook, and Twitter have been in the news a lot lately over concerns of our privacy and how they use the data they collect from us. Google is "King of the Internet", dominating the not only the search results, but dictating pretty much everything we can and can not do.... and everyone of us has granted them some type of access to our information. From email addresses, to search bars and like widgets, to displaying Google Maps on our websites . . . they know everything about us.
There have always been concerns over what Facebook and Google does with the information they collect from the "free stuff" they provide, and after many years, it is finally starting to come out. Both have been called to testify in Congressional hearings, with more sure to follow. I'm not here to talk politics. The are plenty of other places for that, so please don't place political comments here. I do however, want to express my concerns on how it affects our lives and our businesses.
We all use the Internet... and as you probably have noticed, immediately after searching or buying something online, we are bombarded with ads related to the very products or services looked at. And it's not just limited to sites like Amazon. Have you ever noticed that the same thing happens when we browse for cars or real estate? My concern is . . . . What happens when the prospect leaves our site? We surely don't want them getting hit with ads from our competitors for the same product they just saw on ours! Despite what their privacy policies say, it is becoming very clear that any information Facebook and Google can collect and resell is far more valuable to them our own personal privacy or the sanctity of our businesses.
If that's not bad enough, consider that for years they have been telling us how we need use their tools and provide more information on our sites in order to "boost SEO" and get ranked in the search results. So we blindly say "ok" and start vlogging, blogging and stuffing everything on our sites we can.... search widgets, maps, analytics, whatever!. . . to the point that our sites end up looking more like they belong to our local Chamber of Commerce and we find ourselves working a second job for Google without a paycheck!
Don't get me wrong. These things are import and I realize there is a balance in managing a "Catch 22" situation. We need to be more careful with the tools and widgets we choose to put on our websites. We don't want a Trojan Horse high jacking our customers out from underneath us, and selling them to our competitors!
Is it time to dump Google Analytics?
So the question becomes . . . "How do we get listed in the Search Engine without having our sales $$$ stolen out from underneath us?" We may not be able to completely stop them from stealing our customers, but we can make it more difficult. To begin, I would remove anything that allows them to hook into your site and know what your customer is doing, beginning with Google Analytics and Tag Manager and then move to any free plugin or widgets. This would include:
- Google Maps
- Chat widgets
- Search Widgets
- external ads
- and yes. . . . free program libraries such a AngularJS
What should we keep?