Web Protocol

The web protocol is a Google service whereby the web and search activities of its users are recorded and evaluated.

How it works[edit]

Google collects every search query generated by the search engine in a web log. The user must log in to their Google Account, where the information can be collected and viewed. This data can be evaluated later and used for different purposes.

Recorded data[edit]

Google records the following activities for each user using web history:

  • Sites visited by the user
  • Google search queries
  • Information about Advertising Ads to which the user has responded in any way (for example, by clicking)
  • Information about generated search results and private results

Moreover, Google collects various browser details, including the IP Address, the browser type, and the language of the browser. At least one Cookie is used to identify the Browser.

Use of the data[edit]

The data used in web protocol is used by Google for individualization. This allows personalized Google search results to be output. If, for example, a user frequently searches for similar topics and chooses a particular website more so than others, that website will sooner or later rank higher than it is actually positioned in the Ranking. Google is trying to better match the search results to search behavior and to deliver more accurate results.

Moreover, web history data is also used for other Google services. For example, YouTube users may find video recommendations that match a Google search request they did one hour ago. The Google AdSense ads in different media can also be adapted to the interests recorded by the web history.

Google uses the collected web protocol data also for other products. Since March 1, Google has been combining all data to make it usable for all products. In particular, Google Analytics and Google AdWords use the data to create visitor statistics for websites and generate advertising for users. The data is extremely comprehensive and, depending on the Google product, there are a variety of different options to use it profitably. Google Analytics can be used to look at the website’s visitor behavior in order to assess its performance and, if necessary, to optimize individual areas of the website with regard to content, Source Code or Metadata.

Google Analytics and the data of web protocol are indispensable for a meaningful web analysis. The former is the most frequently used tool for analyzing, segmenting, and graphing the data of web protocol.

With Google AdWords, the data in the web history is more likely to be related to the fact that it is trying to use advertising as efficiently as possible. The focus is on text ads that are targeted f specific keywords and Keyword Combinations. This semantic data is taken from the web log as well as other data (e.g., IP addresses, search history, or clicks on ads) and is used to display specific advertisements to the “right users.” With the web history, the data is personalized and linked to the respective Google account.

Web protocol is thus the first step in Tracking, which is used to collect as much user data as possible and to attribute it to a particular person. Google has been repeatedly criticized over the use of this data and the company located in Mountain View has to adhere to the relevant data protection guidelines of the state laws.[1]

However, you automatically agree to the use of the data upon logging in to a Google profile. Unless you deactivate the web history to avoid displaying personalized search results and text ads.

Advantages and disadvantages[edit]

Google states several advantages of keeping a web history:

  • Easily finding already visited and approved Websites
  • Retrieval of trends to your own web activities
  • More accurate results and recommendations through personalization
  • Better Auto-Complete
  • Filtering the search results according to pages already visited

It is, however, criticized that Google uses the data from web protocol above all for better targeting of advertising. This is an attractive development for advertisers, but disliked by many users.

Deactivating and deleting the Google web history[edit]

Google web history is enabled by default with the Google Account. Since 1 March 2012, there have been unified data protection regulations for around 70 Google services, which allow the transfer of data from the Google web history to other services of the company.

Each user can see what data is stored about him at Google History, and delete it. In addition, you can pause the web protocol there. Disabling a web history does not mean that no more information is collected. However, the difference to having an active web protocol is the duration of data retention. While it is permanently kept with an active web protocol, it is either deleted or anonymized into the archive after a period of one and a half years. The deactivation also prevents the output of personal search results.

Relevance to search engine optimization[edit]

In Search Engine Optimization section, you should always work with the web history disabled. Otherwise, you risk that the rankings displayed for specific sites and Keywords are displayed incorrectly. In particular, when customers review the current ranking of their site, they should be warned that they must disable the web history. Otherwise, your site may appear too high on the SERPs.


  1. Frequently Asked Questions. google.com. Accessed on 06/06/2014

Web Links[edit]