For many commercial entities, data security is a big issue and if your web site is a primary income earner then your web analytics data is going to be important. I am sure your competitors would love to get their hands on the information, even if it is only out of curiosity. There is the added problem of ensuring your customers have confidence in the data they are sharing with you. Google Analytics is a popular took for collecting website data and one of the options is to share that data. The question is – should you share that data?
You actually have three options with Google Analytics. Not to share is the first followed by sharing with other Google products and finally anonymously sharing with others. Many business select the first option whilst some use the second option if they have other Google products they use. Many don’t use the last option despite the assurance from Google that the data sharing is done anonymously.
Google have gone to great pains to assure all internet users that no personal information is ever collected. I guess it depends on what you call personal information. They are certainly able to track the surfing, buying and searching habits of many users including those that visit your pages.
However, when it comes to collecting website data, there is no gain for Google in allowing others access to that data – in fact they have more to lose in the long run. By allowing your data to be anonymously shared you can utilize additional features within the Analytics suite. For example, you can benchmark your pages against industry standards when it comes to visitor and search trends.
Benchmarking can often provide interesting results, particularly if you notice industry growth or retraction that you are not seeing in your own business. Should you share this data through your Analytics account? It is up to you. If being able to see how your business stacks up against industry trends is important then go for it. If data security is a concern or you have a lack of confidence in Goolge’s integrity in this area, leave your setting at ‘don’t share’.