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Google Analytics: Are you creating your competition by using this tool?

By Intellectual Property

If you own a website, are you creating a bigger competitor by using Google Analytics?
Google is rapidly moving into different markets beyond its search engine mainstay.
For example, Google just bought Frommer’s travel brand. They’ve been gobbling up different niches (e.g. Zagat for restaurant ratings). The company has also invested in at least two legal-related websites. In other words, there’s a grab to capture multiple markets online.
What’s that mean to you?
If Google thinks your niche looks good, the company may become your competition.
Remember – It is called Google Analytics (not Your Analytics). In other words, all of that data is being mined by Google and can be used against you. In you’re using the tool, just remember it’s your intellectual property that is being mined and Google’s concept of “Don’t Be Evil” may be very different than what you have in mind.
If the reporting benefits outweigh the competition risks, use Google Analytics…but understand that there are risks.

Does Google have the right to slap your website?

By Internet Lawyer
Internet lawyer Google Slap

Has your website suffered a Google slap?

As an Internet lawyer, I’m hearing the uproar out there because Google has changed its search engine algorithms to penalize websites that deliver “low-value” content.

Some website owners claim that a Google slap is illegal because it hurts their businesses. Can Google legally knock your site down in the search engine rankings?

Absolutely.

Google is a publicly-traded company (not owned by the government) that crawls the web and ranks content as it sees fit. Those who use Google Search are wanting relevant results, not low-value content.

And Google gets to decide the value it places on the content of each website. You don’t…and neither do I.

EXAMPLE: I’d love for Google to place Website Legal Forms Generator software ( http://LegalFormsGenerator.com ) as the #1 result for privacy policies every other search anyone does about protecting their online businesses from lawsuits, government investigations and other legal dangers.

But you can’t force Google to do something like that, just like Google can’t demand you install a Google Search box at the top of every page on your website.

Like Google, you can expect Bing and the lesser search engines to constantly improve their algorithms in order to produce what they believe are relevant search results. That may seem unfair if you’ve been slapped…but it’s their ballparks so they get to make the rules.

Can the owner of a search engine be held liable for results? Sure. If the search engine results are rigged to intentionally slap you because you’re a competitor, there might be a deceptive trade practice occurring.

Similarly, if the search engine results are “fixed” by intentionally reporting falsely that your website infects visitors with viruses or spyware, there might be liability. If that happens, you’ll want to huddle with your Internet lawyer to map out a game plan.

But modifying algorithms and applying them across the board is a business decision, not violating the law. If Google screws up doing this, it will have to backtrack or a competitor like Bing will grab market share by providing more relevant results.

To your online success!

-Mike the Internet lawyer

Spock.com – New Search Engine for People Raises Privacy Issues

By Internet Lawyer

Spock.com is a search engine with a twist. With over 100 million names indexed, the site has a goal of creating profiles for the world’s population. Much of the existing data is being harvested from existing social networking sites, such as MySpace and Linked-In.

Of course, GIGO (garbage in garbage out) applies. If the underlying data is false, the profile isn’t helpful. This is particularly true when someone maliciously posts a bad profile for you on a social networking site.

I took preemptive action and created my own profile on Spock.com. I’d rather have the data be accurate. Of course, some discretion is involved. Because of identity theft concerns, for instance, I did not provide vital information such as date of birth.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=fOvad5r8cps

And of course, you should be careful about what you post online. If your hobby is surfing the Internet while at work, chances are that your current or prospective employer won’t be too pleased to read about it online. Content on the web tends to have a life of its own…particularly if it is embarrassing.