Last March, digital forensics service CCL assisted British law enforcement in apprehending a suspect through an intricate and unprecedented procedure that netted them access to a smartphone’s tracking cookies buried by Google Analytics. These cookies had Google “value” put on them by the search engine, which included vital information about the time sites were accessed but more importantly how the sites were found via the search engine phrases keyed in by the user. Not only were the digital crimes of an individual revealed through the efforts of a private business working with their own set of in-house tools and techniques, but also the latest in Google’s advanced user-learning sneakiness.
We can all be happy to hear that the kinds of data that search engine powerhouse and other Internet overlords devise ways of collecting can be used for the benefit of personal and public safety. We remember the scandal over the iPhone tracking tool uncovered by Apple last month, but that kind of technology could potentially save your life if the only way authorities could find you is by what Apple is secretly saving. It’s certainly an interesting arena for debate. On one side you have what seems to be unbridled information collection being discovered only in the process of solving traditional criminal activity, which seems sketchy to say the least. But on the other side you have what looks like a company, who promises to not be evil, simply coming up with ever more technologically savvy ways to profit from search engine analytics.
I want to share with you one of the web’s best kept secrets. A service so awesome many companies end up paying for it even though it’s completely free. In other words, if you are paying any of these companies who claim to track your brand name online you are most likely being taken advantage of. The service I’m about to share with you is completely free and comes from the best possible source to keep tabs on what is being published about you (or your brand/company) on the Internet. That being, Google.
Yep. Google. They provide a service called Google Alerts which allows you to setup keywords to track and anytime one of those keywords appears within the Google index, you receive a nice email providing a description and a link to the website which mentioned the keyword you are tracking. Keywords can be literally anything – you can keep an eye on your brand name as well as your competitors. It’s super easy.
In my recent article series entitled “Why You’re Not Gettin’ Any”, I discussed why websites do not generate their full potential in terms of traffic and profit. Hands down, the most important aspect of this was the concept of gaining more visitors to your site. After all, visitors are ultimately the key to getting higher numbers of comments and replies, sponsors, donations, and ecommerce sales. But the sad fact for many is that they simply do not know how many visitors their site is getting. So how do you track your websites traffic?
Google Analytics is a truly amazing service that allows you to not only track how many visitors your website is getting, but where they are coming from and what they are viewing as well. This type of information can help you make decisions in regards to choosing a targeted audience, and ultimately bringing more people to your site.