Google Dashboard Lets You Drive Your Own Data

Google has provoked more concerns over privacy this month with the launch of Google Dashboard.

Googe Dashboard is basically an access point for all your Google logins and tools associated with your Google account, as well as a summary of your usage of those tools.

From the official blog post:

“In an effort to provide you with greater transparency and control over their own data, we’ve built the Google Dashboard. Designed to be simple and useful, the Dashboard summarizes data for each product that you use (when signed in to your account) and provides you direct links to control your personal settings.”

From the Dashboard, you can now manage your settings for and view usage of more than 20 products, including:

  • Google Alerts
  • Blogger accounts
  • Calendar
  • Contacts
  • Google Docs
  • Gmail
  • iGoogle / Google Gadgets
  • Orkut
  • Latitude
  • YouTube
  • Picasa
  • Web History
  • Product Search
  • Google Profile
  • Google Reader
  • GTalk

Google is planning to add even more products to the Dashboard, such as:

  • Google Analytics
  • Google AdSense
  • Google AdWords
  • Audio Ads
  • Google Base
  • Local Business Center
  • Google Page Creator
  • Google Webmaster Tools
  • Google Subscribed Links
  • Google Wave
  • Website Optimizer

To find the Google Dashboard, sign in to your Google account, then click on the Settings link from the Google Home Page and choose Google Account Settings from the drop down menu. This will open your Google Accounts page. From there you’ll see a new link under Personal Settings called Dashboard – View Data Stored With This Account. Click on that link and you’ll be prompted to enter your password again before being taken to the Dashboard page.

If you’re already logged into your Google Account, you can access the Dashboard by typing in https://www.google.com/dashboard/. All data stored in your Dashboard is private unless indicated by the shared icon as visible to others.

Having viewed my own Dashboard and usage data, I can understand why privacy experts and bloggers are freaked out. It’s quite disconcerting to see exactly how much Google knows about you and your online history. People have been concerned enough about the search history tracking built into the Google Toolbar, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. Dashboard proves that Google is collecting much, much more data about your online activities than you might think. In the wrong hands, this information could easily present opportunities for mass identity theft.

However, one of the major prompts for launching Dashboard was to give people back some element of control over how their data is stored by Google. This is a step towards transparency after all – and as their official blog post states – they are the first major Internet company to offer this degree of control.

So while it’s a little alarming to witness so much of your personal data stored by the Big G, you at least now have the ability to edit and/or permanently remove it. (Or so they say?)

First Recipients of the Free SEM Training Initiative

As we posted earlier this week, Search Engine College has launched a free search engine marketing training initiative for charities and not-for-profit organizations worldwide.

We’re offering 25 charities per year the opportunity to learn search marketing skills at no cost, to help them make the most of their limited marketing budgets.

Thank you to everyone who tweeted and blogged about our offer, word has spread very quickly and we’ve been inundated with requests from all over the world!

As well as announcing the recipients as they are decided, we’re going to publish a small blurb about each recipient charity/NFP and a link to their web sites so you can learn a little more about them, spread the word about their charitable work or maybe even get involved yourself.

Our first recipients of pro-bono search marketing courses are:

1) Sandblast and the Free Western Sahara Network – Sandblast works in support of the forgotten Saharawi refugees.  The UK charity evolved out of a 14-year relationship and involvement with the Saharawi refugees in South West Algeria.

2) Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations’ Council (EVOC) – is a local organisation, which helps to support, develop and promote the interests and work of voluntary and community organisations in Edinburgh, Scotland.

3) Science Alive – a non profit organisation in Christchurch, New Zealand, focusing on science and technology education.

That’s 3 down and 22 to go – congratulations to you all!

If you know of a worthy charity or not-for-profit that might benefit from our courses, please direct them to this post, or tweet it to spread the word.

New Offerings from Google

I haven’t got time to review them all in detail yet, but I’ve noticed a number of new initiatives launched by Google over the past week or so that deserve mention here.

Ad Sitelinks in AdWords

Ad Sitelinks is a new AdWords feature that allows you to extend the value of your existing AdWords ads by providing additional links to content deep within your sites. Rather than sending all users to the same landing page, Ad Sitelinks will display up to 4 additional Destination URLs on your search-based text ad for users to choose from.

Google Comparison Ads:

Comparison Ads is another new feature of AdWords, which lets users compare multiple, relevant offers more easily. Comparison Ads ads value to the ad experience on Google by letting users specify exactly what they are looking for and helping them quickly compare relevant offers side by side.

Google Page Previews:

Google has added a new option to web search called Page Previews. Click on *show options* and select *page previews* after running a search. Google will then show a longer snippet, plus a site thumbnail for each search result

Google Fading Home Page:

Google has been experimenting today with an even more minimalist home page than usual. The new *fading* home page hides everything on the page apart from the logo and the search box until you move your mouse over it and then the remainder of the navigation fades in.  A few people mentioned this one on Twitter but I haven’t seen it in action yet.

Have you used or noticed any of these yet? Please let us know what you think via the comments below.

October Search Light Newsletter: the *only two days late* edition

Search LightThe latest issue of the Search Light newsletter came out yesterday. And it’s only 2 days late! At this rate, our November newsletter may even buck the trend and be published on time.

In this issue, we celebrate Search Engine College reaching 45 countries by offering subscribers a USD 50 discount on all certification courses.

The newsletter also includes some of the more interesting FAQs answered in this blog and an article debunking the myth of SEO as voodoo, written by web site usability extraordinaire Kim Krause Berg

If you’re not yet a newsletter subscriber catch it here and then quickly go and subscribe before I find out!

Free SEO/SEM course for charity sites

As you may have heard if you follow me on Twitter, Search Engine College has now enrolled students in 45 countries.

We’re thrilled that so many people around the world have benefited from our courses, but we’re also aware that many small businesses and not-for-profit sites don’t even have a marketing budget, let alone a budget for training like ours.

So to make it easier, we’ve decided to offer 25 charities per year the opportunity to learn search marketing skills at no cost, to help them make the most of their limited marketing budgets.

We’d like to extend an invitation to any registered charities interested in taking online marketing training (regardless of global location) to get in touch. We’ll choose up to 25 charities at our discretion and send them a coupon for one of their staff to take a self-study course of their choice to the value of USD 295.

Courses are available in the following disciplines:

When contacting us, please use the phrase “charity training” in your email subject line or comments field and include your charity registration number if you have one. Please also include a sentence or two about what course would best benefit your charity and why.

To prevent fraudulent claims, we will be screening charities via sites such as CharityNavigator.org and the Better Business Bureau (or the equivalent outside the U.S.) to ensure they are legitimate. We’ll be announcing the beneficiaries one by one as we distribute the coupons.

If you know of a worthy charity or not-for-profit that might benefit from our courses, please direct them to this post, or tweet it to spread the word.

Thanks!

UPDATE: Because of the popularity of our pro-bono course initiative, we’ve had to add a couple of conditions to the offer. To qualify for the offer, your charity / NFP organization needs to:

1) Have a web site.

2) Have been incorporated at least 12 months ago.

3) Be listed on CharityNavigator.org, the UK Charity Commission, the NZ Charities Commission or the equivalent in your country.

4) Not have any religious or political affiliations.

Thanks for your understanding and co-operation.