Google Analytics And The Google Patent

July 23, 2006

Over at The Site is Dead, Matt Roche is having an interesting conversation about whether Google Analytics can be used by Google to raise your prices. Why, he asks, would you want to give your vendor all that inside info?

However, I don’t think that the goal of GA is to learn the inside scoop in order to raise prices. True, Google sets a minimum price for AdWords and I am sometimes appalled to see it come up as $5.00. But that is always for words that have almost no clickthrough. Busy, competitive terms have prices that are primarily (but, I will grant, not exclusively) market based.

I think we are forgetting all about the Google patent from March 2005. Specifically, let’s look at Claims 37 and Claims 45-47.

Claim 37 refers to ” an amount of time that one or more users spend accessing the document.” It is possible that they were referring to how slow your connection is, but I doubt it — they probably meant, web pages that visitors spend more time on get extra points in the Google search. And how do they know how long individuals spend on a web page, if not by looking at the site owner’s web analytics?

Claims 45-47 reference whether users do things to indicate that they like the site:

  • Claim 45: Did the user “maintain or generate data indicating that the document is of interest to a user?” To my non-lawyerly mind, that translates to, did the user print the document? Export it to another format? Forward to a friend?
  • Claim 46: Did the user add it to his bookmarks/favorites?
  • Claim 47: Are users maintaining or generating data (i.e. doing the things they reference above in Claim 45) at a faster or slower rate than before?

If you wanted to know data like these in order to do a better job of ranking websites, wouldn’t it make sense to buy a web analytics company and then give away the software for free?

Robbin Steif