Pingdom Home

US + international: +1-212-796-6890

SE + international: +46-21-480-0920

Business hours 3 am-11:30 am EST (Mon-Fri).

Do you know if your website is up right now? We do! LEARN MORE

Google shares stats about all websites, but not their own

GoogleGoogle is a bit of a paradox. On one hand, it promotes openness, with a stated mission to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” An admirable goal. On the other hand Google is often secretive when it comes to publicly sharing information about its own websites and services.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in Google’s own public data tools. Try getting information about Google websites in any of these tools and you will notice that most of this information is nowhere to be found. You’ll be able to find information about any website on the Internet, but not Google’s own.

Examples of how Google blocks its own sites

Here are a few examples that we know of:

  • Google Trends for Websites – Will not let you view traffic trends for Google.com or any of its country-specific versions, or for Youtube.com.
  • Google Ad Planner (a.k.a. DoubleClick Ad Planner) – Will not let you view traffic or demographics data for Google sites such as Google.com and Youtube.com.
  • Google’s list of the 1,000 most-visited websites – This list contains visitor and page view information for the top websites, but doesn’t include Google.com (or its country-specific versions) or Youtube.com.

There is a certain irony here; many of Google’s own tools are Google-free zones.

Just look at this:

Missing Google.com and Youtube.com

The regular Google Trends, the one for search stats, doesn’t block you from viewing search trends for words such as “Google”, but apparently Google draws the line at site stats.

Why?

Turning to Google’s own help pages for its tools doesn’t enlighten us much. Here’s an example from Google’s Trends for Websites (emphasis below added by us):

Not all websites are included in Trends for Websites. The following types of websites may not appear in the tool:

  • Websites with low traffic volume below our threshold
  • Websites that don’t wish to be indexed by Google and have indicated their preference through a robots.txt exclusion file
  • Websites that don’t adhere to our Quality Guidelines
  • Other websites for miscellaneous reasons

It’s like there’s an elephant in the room and Google refuses to acknowledge it.

When TechCrunch asked Google about why it excluded its own sites from Trends for Websites a couple of years ago, the answer they got back was about as generic as it gets:

We have policy of not providing interim financial guidance, and have decided not to release Google numbers in accordance with that policy.

Google isn’t even being consistent about this

Since this is all apparently the result of Google policy, you’d expect this to be the same for all of Google’s sites.

But no.

Sites that do tend to work are Blogger.com (Blogspot.com) and Orkut.com. Perhaps Google considers this information less sensitive? We simply don’t know, but this is rather inconsistent behavior, isn’t it?

Ok, Google’s opting out. Can you?

Short answer, no.

The only way to opt out from having your website stats available in tools like Trends for Websites is to completely remove your site from Google’s index (via robots.txt), but who would want to do that?

So Google can opt out, but you can’t.

Conclusion

These tools from Google are great and highly useful, and we think it’s wonderful that Google has made them freely available. However, it is a bit odd that Google so consistently refuses to put its own sites on the same playing field as the rest of the web.

Google actively promotes openness. It encourages us to share our information, be as public as we can, and Google will help make that information accessible. So why is Google so willing to let us probe into the stats of other websites and services out there on the Internet, yet will not do the same for its own services? And in its own tools, at that.

It’s their choice, of course, but it seems to be very contrary to Google’s focus on openness.



9 comments
Wayne Lin
Wayne Lin

Hi Pingdom, I just wanted to clarify a couple things about your article regarding Ad Planner and Trends for Websites. We do include a number of Google properties in Ad Planner including: YouTube, Google Finance, Blogger, Orkut, and Picnik. We are working to incorporate more sites over time, as evidenced by our recent inclusion of YouTube and Google Finance, but for every property we need to work with our legal and policy teams to comply with our policy of not giving interim financial guidance. Although Ad Planner numbers are estimates, they can be confused buy industry analysts and could potentially be viewed as giving guidance, which is why we have to be careful about Google sites. As for website owners wishing to be removed from Ad Planner. This is possible. The website owner should submit a request to us through our user support form and our service team will work with the website. Keep in mind, by removing your site from Ad Planner, you're limiting your site's view to advertisers and potentially limiting your advertising revenues. Thanks, Wayne Lin Google Product Manager, Ad Planner & Trends for Websites

medlaw
medlaw

I hear you on google trends. It's whole reason to be is to share info collected by google but they just give you a taste. There are very limited filters available--specific year, last 30 days, all time (which is just back to 2004). A custom time range and custom geographic setting would be very helpful. It standard for a free app to give limited features for free and then charge for more advanced ones. I'd actually consider paying google for a sooped up trends. Where is it?

iNet
iNet

On a lighter note, I guess they ain't releasing the stats in the health interest of geeks like us. Probably they know that if someday they reveal their stats, many of us might faint in awe. :)

Ignat
Ignat

I recon there should be class-action case to force them either enable such ability to other sites or become "trendeable".

Filipe
Filipe

Well, I certainly agree that it is odd. But I also believe that they must have a very good reason to do that. If it is confidential it is normal that they don't give any detailed information about that.

n1
n1

Understandable, but annoying. Similar to how they never acknowledge when youtube is down, like it is now for some large portion of what looks like Asia and/or eastern Europe. It would be nice if they added their sites to their own tools, and also added all their services, such as YouTube, to their app status dashboard so users know when it's down and when it might be back up again...

Pingdom
Pingdom

@ Wayne Lin: Thank you for commenting and clarifying Google's stance on this. Much appreciated. Do the same things apply for Trends for Websites, btw?

Pingdom
Pingdom

@ medlaw : You get some of those features (for free) with Google Insights for Search. Check it out if you haven't.