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#1 ac

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Posted 18 July 2004 - 07:06 AM

Some webmasters are getting the message and warning others in the trade about Google's complete control of internet search and are fighting back against Google spyware software.

http://www.webpagepr...le-toolbar.html

If webmasters take the lead we can defeat this spyware/adware promoting software that Google and the other search engines trap surfers and webmasters with. The above link are not my words but a page I found doing a search.

Every webmaster should join in and fight against transmission of page views to any third party, as this man says we are giving away too much information and our privacy. These tech companies know that data mining profiles on users gives them power and a product that they can sell, the product they sell is a complete information profile on web surfers.

#2 Ron Carnell

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Posted 18 July 2004 - 10:44 AM

as this man says we are giving away too much information and our privacy.

When someone concerns themselves with *my* privacy, doesn't that become an intrusion on my privacy? :lol:

#3 ac

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Posted 18 July 2004 - 11:06 AM

Can you explain what you are trying to say here Ron, I do not think a lot of folks will get what you are saying.

Can you comment on the web page linked in the first post?

#4 Tony

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Posted 18 July 2004 - 12:27 PM

I would have thought the Google toolbar was safe enough to use, if you have something like Ad Aware 6.0 - freeware from Lavasoft - running on a regular basis.
:lol:

#5 ac

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Posted 18 July 2004 - 12:37 PM

It has nothing to do with safety, it has to do with Google having more information on your website and your page views than you do.

It has to do with web users giving Google complete access to their every page view to look at a page rank gauge.

#6 Adrian

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Posted 19 July 2004 - 04:02 AM

Ron's point is, that if you're telling him how to handle his private information, are you to invading his privacy? ;)

And with Google, the surfing info is optional, people can turn it off, and if it helps them offer a better product (by helping them work out more accurate, less spam filled sites) then actually, I'm all for it.

Why should you worry that someone knows what sites you've visited? Do you have something to hide?

#7 ac

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Posted 19 July 2004 - 05:14 AM

What do you think of the link in post number 1 Ron and Adrian?

#8 bwelford

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Posted 19 July 2004 - 06:10 AM

ac, I'm not sure that the extra information that Google gets via the Toolbar changes anything in a major way with respect to the Google advertizing policies as the author of that web page suggests.

If I was Google, as with any other website owner, I would analyze the traffic logs for my own web pages, in other words, the SERP reports that searchers on Google see. From my own data, I can then see what keywords are being used, and what web pages people are then clicking on from these SERP pages I supply them.

What the Google Toolbar allows Google to see is the non-Google web pages that a surfer may visit. This may have a small effect on Google's commercial policies, but it is probably only a very minor effect. Of course it does raise privacy concerns, but each individual must decide their own trade-off between lost privacy and advantages of using the Google Toolbar.

Now-a-days, I can see the Google PageRank within Mozilla Firefox so I don't need it for that. About the only useful help for me is the ability to highlight keywords within a web page I visit. However that isn't enough to encourage me to go back to Internet Explorer. Indeed thinking about it, that is the much bigger hazard of using the Google Toolbar: not the privacy concerns but the constraint that you must use Internet Explorer with it. ;)

#9 bragadocchio

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Posted 19 July 2004 - 06:16 AM

Do you recall the address were you got that plugin again, Barry?

I'd guess that anytime your request information from Google about the page rank of a site, you're telling Google where you visited. But I definitely agree with you about your concern for Internet Explorer's problems.

#10 ac

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Posted 19 July 2004 - 06:40 AM

What he is saying is that information is power, if Google knows all of this data about every page and keyword that is clicked on. Then they can raise the price of the advertising on those keywords or pages and that may not be good for webmasters in the end.

He just mentioned that he was not going to make it easy and give away the house to Google in this way and is making an effort to get webmasters to take the lead on these issues of privacy and control of the marketplace.

The toolbar is nothing more than a real time MIS data collection tool for Google. Just like Wal-Mart has when you check something out, it reports in real time what was sold, it reorders the item as it adjusts inventory.

Google uses the toolbar to see clearly, they see the data on a real time basis and know which pages get the most traffic and adjust the prices Banner ads on those pages.

You just do not know what they do and can do in the future with this data.

#11 bwelford

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Posted 19 July 2004 - 07:04 AM

Bill, I got the Firefox extension to add the PageRank "barometer" via this link:
http://pagerankstatu...stallation.html

#12 Adrian

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Posted 19 July 2004 - 07:08 AM

we believe that Google's ability to know what users are doing i.e. typing keywords to check rank, check backlinks, over time allows Google to make supply and demand decisions regarding Keyword Value=AdWords cost, and on and on.


So the idea is that Google would spot the keywords people are checking for rank on most and up adwords cost for them? If its true(though it does sound like people complaining at not being able to get a free lunch), that just penalises the people who spend all their time checking rank or using automated software to do it for them very regularly. I'm not to fussed about that. If the markets are that competitive anyway, I imagine AdWords spending can already be pretty high due the number of people going for it.

Not saying Google aren't going to try and make some profit, thats the whole idea, thats what the people moaning about Google are trying to do as well remember.

The Google toolbar may technically be spyware in that it does monitor whats going on, but its not typical spyware which acts very covertly and is all about tricking the user.

#13 Adrian

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Posted 19 July 2004 - 07:11 AM

The toolbar is nothing more than a real time MIS data collection tool for Google.


Personally I think thats just plain wrong. Not saying Google aren't taking some advantage of it, but they are providing some service/tool with it beyond just tracking what people are doing. I think you'd have to be pretty paranoid about their practicies to believe that is the ONLY reason Google have the toolbar at all.

#14 ac

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Posted 20 July 2004 - 09:28 AM

Why is it wrong, if the toolbar is a data mining MIS tool that Google uses to get a clear real time view of what Page Rank Junkies are looking at and builds data profiles on click throughs on certain keyword ads why do you say the description is wrong?

Is the truth WRONG?

Does Google tell you what information it is collecting and how they use it today, do they give anyone an indication of how they will use it in the future?

#15 Respree

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Posted 20 July 2004 - 10:36 AM

Does Google tell you what information it is collecting and how they use it today <snip>


Yes.
http://www.google.com/privacy.html

<snip> do they give anyone an indication of how they will use it in the future?

No, but they tell you how they use it now. Do you know what you will eat for lunch a year from now? No one can predict the future, so how can they disclose that?

#16 gravelsack

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Posted 20 July 2004 - 12:40 PM

Does Google tell you what information it is collecting and how they use it today


No they don't - they give vague statements that do not detail exactly what is collected and exactly how they use it.

I think you'd have to be pretty paranoid about their practicies to believe that is the ONLY reason Google have the toolbar at all.

Why would Google give us a tool that supposedly helps us to do SEO, when SEO damages their results?

Its a smoke and mirrors thing - they want to collect data and need us to install the toolbar to do that. To persuade SEOs (ie the enemy) to install it, they need to appear to be giving us something to make it worthwhile - hence the pagerank bar - there is no other reason for them to give away what, on the face of it, would be useful information for SEOs.

The pagerank bar and backlinks search are just a bit of slight of hand - they are no longer all that useful to SEOs, they just give the appearance of being useful.

Look at what Alexa do with their toolbar and think of all the data that Google could be using to factor into their algo.

#17 Respree

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Posted 20 July 2004 - 01:28 PM

"Google collects limited non-personally identifying information your browser makes available whenever you visit a website. This log information includes your Internet Protocol address, browser type, browser language, the date and time of your query and one or more cookies that may uniquely identify your browser."

That's sounds pretty specific to me.

#18 Adrian

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Posted 20 July 2004 - 01:32 PM

that Google uses to get a clear real time view of what Page Rank Junkies are looking at


And most of the 'PageRank Junkies" are missing out on half the stuff because PageRank isn't as big a deal as they think it is.

If Google are only picking up information about those people, they are getting a pretty scewed view of SEO.

Besides, what about all the people using the Google Toolbar who aren't using it to check PR and quite probably aren't even into SEO.

To them its providing a useful service in being able to search with Google wihtout having to manually navigate to the page. It would be easier arguing that Google had the toolbar to try and keep as many loyal users as possible. The easier they make it for people to use Google, the less likely they are to go elsewhere.

To me thats a much bigger thing to them than what a certain percentage of SEO's are doing.

#19 Ron Carnell

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Posted 20 July 2004 - 03:42 PM

Conspiracy theories can be fun, I suppose, and far be it for me to discourage anyone from having their fun. When they start bugging me to wear aluminum foil hats, however, I draw the line. Do as you will, but paranoia isn't my cup of tea.

I'm not willing to accept someone else's definition of what constitutes "giving away too much information and privacy." It's my information and my privacy. I exchange little pieces of each every day, in return for things like utilities, credit, and meaningful human relationships, just to name a few. It's a free exchange, and in my opinion, it's a fair exchange. Google is no different. They offer me value, they don't try to deceive me, and I won't begrudge them what little they ask in return.

Frankly, I'm much more concerned about all these groceries stores that offer Member's Only prices. Why should someone else get fifteen percent off at Kroger just because they've willingly supplied the store with their name, address and phone number? I have it on very good authority these stores are a front for Jacob Nielsen, who even as we speak is tracking how many people will buy pork chops sans the blue underline.

See? There's not a paranoid bone in my whole body. :lol:

#20 Respree

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Posted 20 July 2004 - 04:22 PM

Jakob who?

I don't mind my local Von's supermarket tracking how many pork chops I eat each year or that I buy their private label brand products instead of the national ones. They save me $ every time I visit and are one of the more friendlier businesses I patronize. So I'm happy to allow them to analyze my buying patterns and send me a coupon for targeted discounts off the products I like.

#21 Tony

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Posted 20 July 2004 - 04:54 PM

Is the truth WRONG?


Depends on the statement, doesn't it?
Only facts can be right or wrong, black or white, but truth comes in all shades.

I think the Google toobar is a lot more than just
"a real time MIS data collection tool".

Apart from the obvious fact that Google are out to make a profit, we can't know all their intentions for whatever info they get about 'surfing' habits.
Why should we assume it's going to be somthing wholly sinister?

#22 ac

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Posted 20 July 2004 - 07:18 PM

Ron, I have a few questions for you.

How much were the Pork Chops?

How did you cook them?

What seasoning did you use on them?

Please tell us how many you ate?

How many miles did you drive to the store?

How many pounds do you consume per month?

What Store did you buy them from?

What did you eat with them?

What time was dinner served?

Do you ever invite Jews or Muslims to Dinner?

Can I install a camera over your dinner table to confirm these details in the future so you will not have to take the time to report these details in the future?

Will you still be my friend after this thread is finished?

#23 Arnvid

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Posted 20 July 2004 - 07:34 PM

How much were the Pork Chops?


Do you ever invite Jews or Muslims to Dinner?


Yes, would be interesting to know if Jews or Muslims where invited over to dinner - ...on Pork Chops :celebrate:
Would J. Nielsen sell me a statistical answer to that one?

#24 Grumpus

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Posted 20 July 2004 - 07:37 PM

Ron might answer those questions if you were offering something in return. And, of course, if he didn't think what you were offering was worth it, he wouldn't provide you with answers to the questions.

The grocery store thing is a valid complaint. It is illegal to charge different people a different price for things. Period. So, all of those grocery stores are breaking the law. (And, if you're like me, you simply demand that your checkout person swipe the card they are given for just this reason. They will almost always comply instantly, and if they don't, it only takes a second to get a nod from the manager who will be aware of the fact that they are required to give you the same discounts as everyone else).

But software that reports back to someone with data (so long as there is disclosure that this is one of the behaviors of the software) simply isn't illegal. It may be one day, but if it were to become illegal, then providing internet access itself would be illegal because in order for your ISP to be able to provide you access, they need to keep track of your actions to cover their own butts.

Look, AC, it's like this - I agree with you - privacy is an important issue that we should all be concerned about - but it's simply a waste of time to be upset at those who are doing it above-board (or at least as above board as you can get without the "spying" being turned around to face the other direction). Be upset at the companies that are building products that spy on us and hijack our systems without our consent.

And, just so you know, that other post you made tonight with the new bill being presented - Google is already in compliance with the requirements of that law. They won't need to change a thing, should it come to be passed.

G.

#25 projectphp

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Posted 20 July 2004 - 08:28 PM

Why would Google give us a tool that supposedly helps us to do SEO, when SEO damages their results?

Google doesn't "give us a tool that supposedly helps us to do SEO", they provide a tool that offers a range of services that others have decided has SEO benefits. Google never, ever, in any statement, in any press release or in any public statements I have ever come accross, mentioned SEO and the toolbar in the same sentence. To assume that SEOs are the target market for PageRank is simply not true.

...there is no other reason for them to give away what, on the face of it, would be useful information for SEOs.

"No other reason" is a facinating statement. "I can see no other reason" would be more accurate.

Off the top of my head, I can think of one massive reason for the PageRank bar: Branding. Search for PageRank on Google, and there are 1,400,000 results. To put that in perspective, one of the world's greatest authors, salman rushdie has only 140,000.

That is how much PageRank is discussed on the internet, and all that discussion keeps Google top of mind, increasing their Brand. The best publicity is free publicity, and PageRank on the toolbar has more than paid for itself in terms of free press, and is part of Google's viral, word of mouth based marketing efforts. This has been so successful, no one searches any more, they "Google".

Now, that doesn't mean Google aren't thankful they get all the other stuff as well. In fact, giving something to get something is the strategy of choice for so many marketing strategies.

"Win a car, just leave your name and address", "Win a holiday, just give us some details about yourself", "free widget with each free registration to our email newsletter" etc etc.

I once, as an exercise, put two people's names into a competition: one that made < $10,000 a year, and one that made > $200,000 a year. The > $200,000 person got a heck of a lot more mail after that, in the vacinity of 3 offers a week for a year for all manner of seminars, tax schemes and the like.

Then [Google] can raise the price of the advertising on those keywords or pages and that may not be good for webmasters in the end.

Collecting information, as i mentioned, is gold for all marketers, and Google is certainly no different. Google already, sans toolbar, have reems of it. With toollbar, and PageRank reporting active, Google have even more.

But for the above statement to be true, and ac has amde this statement previously, Google must have some way to influence pricing. Google, rightly so from everyone's perspective, use a bidding model that lets the market decide what is a "fair" price to pay per keyword. That makes any claims to price hikes untrue.

With all the information in the world, Google has absolutely no means, under the current system, to effect price. They have other knowledge that is worth something, but it isn't pricing on current items that is the real interest. It is market understanding, new product development and a host of other areas that are the real key.

#26 Ron Carnell

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Posted 20 July 2004 - 08:53 PM

Ron might answer those questions if you were offering something in return.

Took the words right of my mouth, Stock. :lol:

#27 ac

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Posted 20 July 2004 - 08:56 PM

Come on now Ron, I put a lot of effort into that post, you can at least give me a piece of your mind or entertain us, don't let us down Ron. :mad:

#28 ac

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Posted 20 July 2004 - 09:01 PM

I don't know Grumpus, I have heard of some Senators mentioning that they would completely outlaw transmission of page views to third parties PERIOD.

In the end I think that is what computer users will demand from lawmakers, they should demand this since this is being abused by every toolbar producer under the sun.

#29 gravelsack

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Posted 20 July 2004 - 09:22 PM

log information includes your Internet Protocol address, browser type, browser language, the date and time of your query and one or more cookies that may uniquely identify your browser.


The key word is 'includes'.

ie not 'is limited to'

It uniquely identifies your browser and they don't tell you exactly what they do with that information.

#30 gravelsack

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Posted 20 July 2004 - 09:33 PM

To assume that SEOs are the target market for PageRank is simply not true.


Nonsense ... as is the idea that the Page Rank tool is just a branding exercise.

As for 'I can see no other reason', thats just stoopid - I can see plenty of 'reasons' of the same calibre as those you specify, I just discounted them as incorrect.

We have been over this one before.

Within the scope of the statement that Google make regarding the toolbar, there is plenty that they can do to track SEO activity and act against it.

Projectphp, I still find it curious that you disagree with 100% of the posts that I make. I am kind of get used to people disagreeing with me a lot of the time, but 100%! Did I kill your dog or something?

#31 Steve_Sardell

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Posted 20 July 2004 - 10:06 PM

Nonsense ... as is the idea that the Page Rank tool is just a branding exercise

Hi gravelsack,

Its not that the PR tool bar was just a branding exercise, it was one of the best marketing ploys any SE has accomplished--as a side light there also was a bit of ego involved. However, it did come back and bite as it gave away a measurement that could be and was manipulated. One key to remember is the tool bar was not all about PR, but rather it allows a searcher to use the G search feature without needing to go to G's home page. For those worried about them gathering too much info then by all means turn it off, and while you are at it, you may want to consider getting rid of all your credit cards.

#32 ac

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Posted 20 July 2004 - 10:17 PM

My credit cards do not record every page view, nor do they provide my transactions to a third party.

My credit cards do not record every click I make, nor do they follow me around my intranet which is a securtiy risk for all on the entire enterprise network.

I wonder why the link in the opening post has removed the Google toolbar from his network?

Someone mentioned that Google has an auction process for keyword ads that sets the selling price for ads. Well you can look for Google to start selling CPM banners soon with the data gathered by the toolbar.

This is only one of the reasons that webmasters should be alarmed, since the benefits to partners will decrease down the road when Google holds all the cards.

#33 gravelsack

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Posted 20 July 2004 - 10:36 PM

For those worried about them gathering too much info then by all means turn it off


Thats the whole point, I have done. I turn it on and use it only when it suits me.

and while you are at it, you may want to consider getting rid of all your credit cards.


Why? There is zero risk that my credit card will be used against my SEO activity. I use my credit card rarely and I understand the consequences when I do.

Most people leave the toolbar turned on all the time and have no idea of the consequences.

We covered this in detail here

My point, which is slightly different from ac's, is that the benefit of using the toolbar has diminished to almost zero, whilst the risks have stayed the same (some might say they have increased).

I can get my PR report elsewhere, the back links are useless, and all three of my 'browsers of choice' allow me to search directly on Google if I so wish.

Given that, its just a nasty piece of code that reports back to base telling them everything that my browser does, allowing them to use the data in any way they choose, including passing on elements of the data to third parties (yes, they do - read their statments).

Anyone got a good reason left use it?

#34 projectphp

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Posted 20 July 2004 - 10:54 PM

Nonsense ... as is the idea that the Page Rank tool is just a branding exercise.

Sorry Gravelsack, but more disagreement :)

Toolbars are a Branding bonanza. Every installation of IE offers the oportunity to have a company's Logo visible whenever a user is browsing the web. That is a massive Branding benefit, for a relatively trivial outlay. Branding is why so very many companies offer toolbars, many of whom have virtually no user tracking elements present, even as an option.

The trick with toolbars is to get people to install them. Short of installing them in true syware style, the best way to get a specific toolbar installed is to provide people as many incentives as possible.

Google offer plenty beyond PageRank: pop-up blockers, autofilling forms, integration with blogger, searching Google quickly etc.

I don't know Grumpus, I have heard of some Senators mentioning that they would completely outlaw transmission of page views to third parties PERIOD.

Every single computer you go through can, if desired, log and record every packet that goes through their network. That is just as big a privacy concern, and really, there are otherways around this, so the problem is not likely to go away. A far better outcome, in terms of protecting privacy, would be to regulate how collected information can be utilised, and restrict to whom it can be sold.

#35 gravelsack

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Posted 20 July 2004 - 11:14 PM

Sorry Gravelsack, but more disagreement


Branding is a part of it, but it is not the only part. Collecting data and using to improve their SERPs is a major part of it. One way to improve SERPs is to identify SEOs and their sites and act against them, individually or by algo changes. This can be extrapolated from the toolbar data without needing your personal details.

All the 'pros' listed for the toolbar I get without the toolbar.

All the other data that is leaked in surfing is irrelevant compared to the data that is handed over to the one company that can wipe out my income stream at a stroke.

Remember, they can change their terms anytime they want - you have the opportunity to remove the toolbar, but not the opportunity to ask them to delete any data that might have been collected from your browser.

For most posters here, it might be irrelevant, but if you have a network of sites that are, shall we say, 'less than pure white', you might want to consider exactly how likely it is that you can stay 'under the radar' if you use the toolbar for 100% of your surfing.

'Small risk', you might think - well unless you think 'zero risk', is it worth jeopardising your revenue stream for features that are available elsewhere without the risk?

Sorry to repeat my point from the previous thread, but...

Whatever words we use, fact is, the Toolbar passes information back to Google and there ain't one of you that can tell me exactly what it is sending or how they are using it. 

Thats not good.


projectphp, I am sure we will agree one day - maybe if we talked about politics....
:)

#36 Black_Knight

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Posted 21 July 2004 - 12:31 AM

there ain't one of you that can tell me exactly what it is sending or how they are using it.

That's not quite true, because packet-sniffing has been used, and indeed, is how the current wealth of sites offering PageRank lookups got the basic info to crack the coding of the info it passed. In other words, not only do they know exactly, to the bit and byte, what it was sending and receiving, but they even managed to decode what it all meant.

It is as simple as supposed - a url and a code to prove it really is the toolbar asking for it. Once they cracked that code, they were able to send the same queries themselves and get the same responses.

#37 gravelsack

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Posted 21 July 2004 - 12:58 AM

It is as simple as supposed - a url and a code to prove it really is the toolbar asking for it.


You mean WAS as simple as supposed.

Autoupdate.

Unless they removed it and no-one told me.

#38 Adrian

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Posted 21 July 2004 - 03:33 AM

I guess we better all stop analysing our Apache server logs, they contain logged information relating to IP's, User Agents and the like. With some geolocation tools we can obviously then find out alsorts of things about the people visitng our sites if we want to. Hell, theres a section of the software industry devoted to working it out for us.

Surely that must be an invasion of privacy, monitoring what someones doing on our site.

Argue the point that we can't monitor other people sites if you like, if Google wanted to keep an eye on all the 'Pr Junkies' and what keywords are being checked on most etc... All they need to do is look at their server logs.

Yes its feasible and even likely that Google use the data form the toolbar to see what some of the more obsessive SEO's are doing, but to think that the only reason the toolbar exists is to monitor SEO's seems a bit farfetched and smacks of an overinflated sense of self importance to me.

Primarily its a branding tool and a way of keeping people using Google for search.

Out of interest, when did Google release the toolbar in relation to Yahoo's spending spree? If it was a shortish while after Yahoo! started buying other search engines, you could easily argue that Google were expecting to lose Yahoo! and so found a few ways to try and keep as much market share as possible for themselves specifically, rather than the market share they would lose/lost when Yahoo! moved away.

#39 ac

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Posted 21 July 2004 - 05:47 AM

Get back to the real reason the Google toolbar is important, when engaged to show Page Rank (Page Rank is the drug for webmasters and link buyers) Google has a real time MIS database to base future marketing and business plans on.

This is the real benefit to Google is the real time reporting that the toolbar provides for Google executives.

What set Wal-Mart up for great success (they are the largest company in the world) was their MIS systems. Webmasters should realize that the toolbar is just one of these data collection (real time) tools that Google uses to build surfing profiles so that they can find out where the action is online.

This data profile is the foundation for Google to sell their product (advertising) they know the best pages, websites, keywords and just about everything else that can be used to sell advertising.

Google generated 60% margins on their sales using this data, with 95% of their profits coming from contextual advertising I would say that the toolbar is one of the pillars holding the Google empire up right now.

#40 ac

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Posted 21 July 2004 - 06:02 AM

BK, most of the page rank sites that are a tool used to get page rank without the toolbar use Google API's to get their data do they not?

When the Google toolbar autoupdates I doubt there are any packet sniffers that create reports on what exactly the toolbar is collecting since that is only looking at data collected from one computer.

If someone has decoded the toolbar data collected, why have they not released this information as a report or published it? I have never seen anyone link this data on any forum for us to look at.

No one knows the entire database created from all of the toolbars installed, I have heard of CIO's taking the toolbar off of the enterprise clients when they found out that the toolbar was reporting pages on their intranets back to Google.

That is a serious security risk to the enterprise. It could be classified as industrial espionage and is by many CIO executives.



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