9 Things Google Can Do With Your Information

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9 Things Google Can Do With Your Information

When it comes to using Google, there are generally two thoughts. The first is that Google is the best search engine and email provider and you want to use the best. The second is that many people are nervous about what Google knows about you. The second group isn’t wrong, Google does know a ton about you. 

Between your browsing behavior, location history, online purchases, and email data, Google may very well know more about you than you know about yourself. Okay, so that’s not exactly true, but Google knows a lot. It’s with that in mind that we want to focus on exactly what Google can and does do with your information.

Provide Services

Search is the most important way Google learns everything it can about you.

Whenever you search for something on Google Search, it’s learning something about you. It might be the videos you watch or the music you listen to, Google is using this data to provide you with services.

It’s because Google knows about your browsing habits that it can best tailor your search results. It’s this user-specific search result feature that has helped Google dominate search for a long time.

Location Tracking

Using a service like Google Maps will let Google know exactly where you are and when.

Wherever you are going, Google likely knows. We have all experienced Google asking us for an accurate location whenever you pull up Google Maps. Whenever you look up directions on Google Maps, Google is going to offer you personalized suggestions.

These suggestions are going to be pulled from previous map searches and your overall search history. Location data includes GPS and sensor data from your devices as well as IP addresses in some cases.

Improving Usability

navigation map on a smartphone screen
As you use Google Maps, Google is using your data to help improve drive times for others.

Staying on the idea of Google Maps, it’s not just location history that Google is using. It’s also looking to send your location back to Google. By using your data, Google can create a better picture of what current conditions are like.

If you are stuck in a traffic jam, your Google Maps app sends that back to Google so it can properly inform and prepare other drivers. It’s this type of data that helps give you an exact amount of time it will take you to travel from point A to point B.

Tweaking Algorithms

As Google learns about your search habits, it will use this data to tweak its algorithms.

For better or worse, Google regularly tweaks its algorithms to make its search features better. The company makes thousands of changes to its search engine every year. These changes all came about thanks to your personalized data.

Google engineers are always refining search algorithms so you get the most relevant results right away. To do this, they need to have a solid understanding of what you are already trying to search for.

Targeted Ads

One of the biggest ways Google uses your data is to create targeted ads online.

We have all searched for something on Google only to have the product or service seemingly following us around the internet. Well, you likely have Google to thank for that. Google collects information about your search history and uses it to create targeted ads.

It hopes these ads are the ones you are most likely to engage with. This digital marketing tactic is best known as programmatic marketing and it’s a multi-billion dollar advertising space.

Google Analytics

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Using Google Analytics is a great way for website advertisers to learn about your ad activity.

Google does not attempt to hide that it uses your data to improve search activity. However, it can go one step further and use your info with advertisers to enhance ad campaign results.

How you interact with the ads you are shown on various websites appears on a Google Analytics account. This account may be owned by a third-party agency, a small business, or a very large brand.

Communicate With You

How to Create Rules in Gmail
Using a service like Gmail gives Google a wealth of data and knowledge about your shopping habits.

As Google either owns your email address through Gmail, or it knows an alternate email address, it can and will communicate with you. For example, if you try to sign into a Google Account and it detects fraud, Google will email you to an alternate account. It’s using this information you have provided to communicate with you and ensure no malicious act is taking place.

Detect Spam

As you visit a website, Google uses your information to help look for spam in its ads.

With Google being able to look at your personalized ads and search results, it can use this information to help detect spam. Along with spam, Google is also using your info to make sure you aren’t receiving any malware or illegal content.

Other Information

Digital Assistant concept. Women's hand touches smart speaker with LED lights activated on concrete black table with smartphone.
Anytime you use hardware like a Nest speaker you are giving Google a wealth of information.

As Google knows the language you speak, the questions you ask Google Assistant, or what you read in Google News, it helps personalize these results. This is similar to how it tweaks your search results, but it’s doing so with applications like News.

If you’re frequently searching for political news, Google will tweak the News website or app results to provide you with more political stories.

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