Google is the search engine of choice for the majority of Internet users, accounting for 69.24% market share in September 2015. A large part of those who browse the web using Google are also regular users of other Google services, including Gmail and Google Maps, so needless to say, Google probably knows more about your browsing habits than you think it does. While Google’s services are free for everyone, to a certain extent every user agrees to share personal information with the search engine through various means. Some of the information is used to improve Google’s services in order to cater to your needs with more ease while other bits of data can be shared with advertisers in order to make their ads more effective. Whatever the case may be, if you are a Google customer and you want to know what Google knows about you, or you wish to change certain aspects regarding the sharing of personal information, you can do so by following some of the instructions below.
Google’s search engine algorithms are extremely complex and some of them are kept in secret. Regardless, there’s no secret that Google uses various methods to gather information about its users. Starting with the simplest sign-up form, users are required to leave a name, an email address, sometimes even a phone number and so on. Furthermore, if you are an Android smartphone user, chances are that Google knows a whole lot about the locations you visit frequently, as well as your travel locations. As mentioned above, this data is put to good use for a number of purposes but generally speaking, the information is used for improving Google’s services, as well as to make ads more effective at targeting the right consumers.
Fortunately, those who may also want to keep a close eye on the personal information gathered by Google, or control certain aspects about what data should be shared, can do so by visiting two webpages, namely the “Web & App Activity” and Ads settings pages. The first webpage gives users a detailed preview on their browsing habits, their most visited websites, as well as the device(s) being used for web searches and the location(s) where Internet searches occur. The page allows users to delete all the Web & App Activity history, as well as additional location and YouTube search / watch history information. It also gives users the option to archive (back up) data before removing it. As for ads settings, the gives users more control over what types of ads should be shown during Internet browsing. Users can disable ads based on personal interests, or can add new interests and manage existing ones. There are plenty of options and settings to fiddle with, so make sure you examine the websites thoroughly.