Stores Google Analytics consumer data

Google Analytics data protection

Google Analytics is a free web analysis tool. This gives webmasters important performance indicators for their websites. Based on the analysis data, decisions can be made for measures relating to marketing, web design and search engine optimization.

How it works [edit]

A valid Google account is required to use Google Analytics. After the website is registered for the analysis service, the user receives a unique ID. Then he can call up what is known as a tracking code. He then has to integrate this on all pages of the website to be analyzed. This code is a small piece of JavaScript that is implemented in the area of ​​the source code. If a user calls up the website, the code snippet transmits the data to a server, which then stores it in the corresponding Analytics account.

Advantages for webmasters [edit]

If you use Google Analytics, you get a profound insight into important key figures on your website. This includes the number of visitors, the regional origin of the visitors, the visitor sources as well as the length of stay and the average number of pages viewed per visit.

In addition, all of this data can also be segmented in a variety of ways. In this way, individual visitor groups such as returning or new visitors can be analyzed in a differentiated manner. The tool is almost indispensable for search engine optimization and usability optimization. The hoped-for benefit is an increase in the number of visitors and sales or conversions. Since Google Analytics is free to date (as of July 2014), there are no costs for using it.

Advantages for users [edit]

If Google Analytics is used sensibly, web users also benefit from it. Because on the one hand, the constant optimization of websites increases the chance that a user will receive relevant hits in the Google search. On the other hand, it is ensured that the website you are visiting works smoothly. The evaluation of Google Analytics data, for example, helps to structure menus more sensibly or to place content in a more user-friendly manner.

Criticism [edit]

Google Analytics is repeatedly criticized because the program registers and processes a lot of data about users. If the transmission of the IP address is not explicitly prevented in the tracking code, Google Analytics will also save this. In addition, the data is not stored in Germany, but on servers in the USA. For this reason, users and webmasters often have doubts about continuous data protection.

Another point of criticism is the data link. Because by linking visitor data, sales and the data from advertising programs used such as Google AdWords or Google AdSense, Google has very specific insights into company key figures such as sales or goals. Theoretically, there is therefore a risk that the search engine company can use the knowledge of this data for its own purposes.

Data collection [edit]

With the help of Google Analytics, a large amount of data is collected about a website. The data collection goes far beyond the server's log file.

What data is collected? [Edit]

Google Analytics registers data that can be divided into different categories. These would be:

  • The type of visitor: Here the tool collects data on the regional origin and on the operating systems and devices used to access the website.
  • The origin of the traffic: In this segment, Google Analytics stores referring websites and provides information on which social networks visitors are coming from. If an AdWords account is linked to the Analytics account, data can also be imported from the advertising program.
  • The behavior of the users on the website: In this category, Google Analytics not only registers landing pages, click paths, but also bounce rates and the length of time spent on individual subpages.
  • Sales figures: This function can optionally be activated on e-commerce websites. If it is active, Google Analytics also saves the sales of an online shop. Conversion goals such as downloads or newsletter subscriptions can also be saved by Google Analytics.

Google Analytics also registers the IP addresses of visitors that are transmitted when they visit a website. The program does not deliver this data to its users, so that the analysis cannot be linked to personal data.

All information on data collection by Google Analytics is listed at Google Support under the heading Data protection.

How is the data collected? [Edit]

As soon as a user visits a website that uses Google Analytics, the tracking code is executed. This places up to four cookies on the user's computer, which allow him to track his activities on the website. The recognition cookie recognizes whether the visitor is a returning or a new user. The session cookie determines the duration of the visit to the website.

Depending on the configuration of the Analytics account, a segmentation cookie is also set that divides the user into categories and a campaign cookie that assigns the user to specific online campaigns that the webmaster has started. Once the data is registered, the tracking code calls up a pixel on the Google server. The package with the collected data is now attached to this pixel and is then transmitted to the Google Analytics server.

With the help of the Google Analytics ID, this data can finally be assigned to a specific account and the associated website. The owner of the Google Analytics account can now call up and analyze this data in a processed form in his account.

What is the data used for? [Edit]

The data collected with Google Analytics is used to analyze the performance of a website and the performance of marketing campaigns. The results of these analyzes are then used to optimize web content and website technology. Important recommendations for action for the website can be derived from the tool's key figures, such as the placement of image or text elements or the simplification of the shopping process in the shopping cart. The data can also be used for marketing plans.

An example: The analysis of the website shows that the visitors mainly come from Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. As a consequence, the webmaster can now either increase advertising in these regions or target other regions with advertising measures in order to expand his customer base.

Use Google Analytics in a legally compliant manner [edit]

In order to use Google Analytics on websites in a legally secure manner, certain requirements must be met.

If the following steps have not yet been taken, all data collected with Google Analytics to date should be deleted. It does this by deleting the account itself. Because data protectionists complain that the use of Google Analytics was not compliant with the local data protection regulations for a long time. By deleting the data, the risk of having acted unlawfully is avoided.

  • The user must refer to the use of Google Analytics in the information on data protection. In addition, the user should have the option of not having their visits tracked by Google (opt-out). The browser add-on provided by Google is ideal for this.
  • If you use Google Analytics, you should conclude a contract for the processing of order data with Google. Once the contract has been concluded, the webmaster does not need any separate consent from the user for data collection. The contract stipulates how Google secures the data it collects.
  • Anonymization of the IP address: By inserting the “_anonymizeIp ()” element, the last eight bits of the user's IP address are cut off and not transmitted to Google. In this way, the requirement of data protection activists is complied with not to transfer any personal data to Google when visiting a website. Since a user can be clearly localized and assigned with the help of the IP address, it is considered a personal data record.