Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Your Website, Google Analytics & the EU Cookie Law

If you are in business and you promote your goods or services on your company website, you may have Google Analytics tracking code on your website pages which will use "cookies" to gather information. A new EU law, introduced last year, states that henceforth, if use of your website is about to place cookies in a visitor's browser, permission must be obtained in advance.

So. Google Analytics will track visitor activity to your website by associating an identifying cookie to a visitor's browser. It's not a complete picture because all browsers offer a choice of allowing or disallowing cookies, usually found under browser settings.
  • How will the new law affect website visitors? 
    There are a number of different ways in which website owners/designers will address the issue. Visitors may be confronted with pop-up messages that require a yes/no tick before they can proceed further. Details should be given under a privacy policy or site T&C.
  • What should website owners do about this new law? 
    If your website generates cookies, including Google Analytics, you should advise visitors by means of a prominent notice as soon as they land on the website, and offer them an opt-in or opt-out choice. Your website designer should be able to do this for you. Alternatively, you may decide to remove Google Analytics and any other cookie-generating code.
  • What use is Google Analytics to a website owner? 
    Most successful websites have been 'optimised' to present information to search engines (primarily Google) in a search-engine-friendly format but it's really the content that is important. Google Analytics stores information that can be used to improve how your website performs in searches, such as:
    • a history of popular search terms used by visitors to find your website;
    • which searches resulted in visitors taking a good look around the website and which searches resulting in visitors leaving the website immediately;
    • how visitors reached the site (via search engine, referral from another site, social media, etc.);
    • visitor trends, daily to annually ... and so much more!
Google Analytics does not track or store any personal information from any visitor. It's similar to visiting the high street and a researcher noting that on day-1, X visited three stores, spent 20 minutes in each one and made a single purchase, Y visited a single store for 5 minutes and made a purchase, Z walked straight through the high street without stopping; on day-2, Y revisited the same store and a number of new visitors were similarly tracked.

Website Owners.
You will need to contact your website developer or Internet professional for advice regarding compliance with the new law. There are several information sources, such as Information Commissioner's Office and,

If you already have Google Analytics, it is worth continuing if you want to improve your website's search engine performance. You can try it yourself: SEO info / Social Media info
or contact a specialist, such as The BPc, about SEO and Internet marketing.

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