This is a transcript of episode 80 of the Let’s Get Data-Driven Podcast

I’m Lanie Lamarre and I walk around my house looking like a school kid because I’m always carrying this stack made up of my planner, my Kindle, my mobile phone and a carrying case full of stickies and pens and stuff, as if I’m off to class or something. My planner is a glorified security blanket, at this point, so if you see my out in the world at a conference or something, ask me to see mine because I’ll for sure have it on me. I get all my inserts from this great great GREAT company called Cloth & Paper, which I’ll link to in the shownotes, but their subscription box is one of those things where I have more products than I’ll ever use and it’s like “I’ll cancel it next month” and then they announce the theme and I’m like, “well, I can’t quit now! I need that box!” Like the last box I received was themed “Self-Discovery” – c’mon, right?

But I’m way off topic here – or am I, because it IS peak planner season, right? – but this week’s podcast is another Office Hours question, which means I’m extra-excited so let’s get into it.

This week’s question is “When I log into Plausible, I see Google is my top traffic source. It’s asking me to connect to Google if I wanna see the search terms used. Is this something you still recommend, even though you’re sort divorced from Google Analytics? If not, how can we see this information?”

There are so many levels to how great this question is.

First of all, I want to clarify what Plausible is: this along with Fathom are the two privacy-compliant analytics software options that I recommend for a number of reasons. The first reason is, as I’ve alluded to, it is compliant to international privacy laws but perhaps more important to you is that it is simple to use, simple to understand and you aren’t taking on any unnecessary or unclear risks as to how you’re collecting information like it is the case with Google Analytics.

If you want to hear more about why I think Google Analytics is an issue and I don’t recommend it for most small business owners, check out episode 33 of the podcast; and if you want to hear about why I do recommend Fathom and Plausible as your best bets, check out episode 34.

If you use a privacy-compliant analytics and data collection option, you will likely be provided with the option to connect it to your Google Search Console account. This is an account that reports on search terms being used on Google and how those searches are impacting YOUR business; it essentially explains how people are finding you on Google.

This is different from Google Analytics in the sense that Google Analytics is tracking your visitor’s behaviors on your website and collecting personally identifiable information about them and their habits. Meanwhile, Google Search Console isn’t reporting on behaviors as much as it’s reporting on search terms and key words being used, and the only item of personally identifiable information – or what the cool kids like us call PII – the only potential PII being collected is the “location” data set and even that is broadly defined as “country”.

This is why you’ll see that privacy-compliant analytics software like Plausible will invite you to connect this data source; the PII being collected and reported on with Google Search Console – or what the cool kids like us call GSC – meets privacy requirements, and it is a good, compliant source for you to use when comes to assessing your organic search efforts and performance.

So to address the question “how do we get to see this information?”, you have to start by registering your account with Google Search Console, which I walk you through the step-by-step process on Week 5 of the Roadmap To Optimization when you join the Membership To Get-Data-Driven. If you’ve been thinking about joining and being found on Google is a priority in your new year planning, Search Engine Optimization – or what the cool kids call SEO – is our membership theme next month and I would love to personally welcome you so you’ll find a link in the shownotes to join.

I want to add a little something-something to this conversation, too, because I said at the onset that this question is valuable and important to ask on a number of levels, and one of those levels is to question: “what information is being collected here?”

While you’re helping Google Analytics collect and report on 500+ data points when you’re using its service, Google does have other services that you can use where this isn’t the case. Google Search Console, for instance, is reporting on the keywords and terms being entered into Google so it’s A-OK. Google Looker (or the artist formerly known as Google Data Studio ) is a platform where you can create beautiful dashboards and reports that make it easier for you to see and visualize your information, doesn’t collect any information at all – it’s nothing more than data visualization tool like Power BI or Tableau is – but you DO have to pay attention to and think twice about WHAT data sources you’re connecting into it. After all, Google Looker doesn’t have or collect data, but it reports on the data you connect and plug into it.

In episode 74, I spoke to how connecting account can impact how your own personal information is shared and can potentially be compromised; same kind of thing applies to Google Looker because on its own, there’s no privacy issue with using Google Looker because it doesn’t collect personal information; all it does is report on information you feed into it and provide it with access to.

It’s about putting some responsible thought into the tools we’re using, which is why I loved this question too much not to share because it’s a great example of a student who is thinking and acting with intention and integrity for the people they’re showing up to serve, while still keeping an avid eye on how their people are showing up for them. I love everything about this!

And hey! this is the last episode of the calendar and I want to take a time out to thank you – thank you for asking great questions like these, thank you for tuning in because I’ll be honest, it makes me feel a whole lot less alone in this weird world of online marketing. There’s so many questionable kind of practices and I see all kinds of things happening that make my face look like I’m smelling farts… but knowing that people want to hear about responsible marketing practices and who tell me they, too, value acting like human being online, it gives me hope, joy and the downright warm and fuzzies, and I thank you for that, boss.

We will talk soon – and in 2023! – baiiiiieeee.