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Home Page Privacy Link Lowers Conversions

How do you explain that Google doesn’t want to post a home page privacy link, and is willing to violate California law by refusing to include the privacy policy link on the Google homepage? It must hurt conversions.

Google is a serious web company and Google tests things before deploying them. The privacypolicy is an important aspect of web publishing, and even Google , with its significant investment in trading in people’s personal information, supports the idea that a privacy policy enhances trust and quality of a web site. Yet Google won’t put it on the home page, where the law says it has to be. Why not?

It must hurt the business, that’s why.

When you consider what would be important to Google, you first must consider profits. Conversions. How well the web page (and site) perform the intended tasks. And if testing shows that the presence of a privacy link on the home page reduces page performance (tracking whatever success metrics have been defined), then the wise business decision is to not post that link. If there is a law requiring the link, the wise business decision is to weigh the relative risks and rewards for compliance, and act in accordance withthe corporation’s best interests. Al lis not black and white in business. Any law is arguable, and arguing costs money. The balance has to be in the corporate favor. Otherwise, rst assured Google would post a privacy link.

So what is the defind conversion that is hurt by the presence of that link?

I’m betting it’s cookie clearing, but I haven’t studied the situation. If n% of readers click through to see they are tracked by cookies, m% of those n% may clear their cookies at that moment, or look to learn more about cookies and how to use cooies washers etc. But that’s just an off-hand opinion. You have to consider everything — click thru rates off the task of running a query, click offs to privacy web sites, secondary searches for Google and privacy, etc etc. Everythign detracts from the initial desired actionof user querying Google to find stuff. And that’s what Google will always choose to hide behind. Google can always say that the link detracts from the user experience. Privacy advocates argue back that a seven letter hyperlink doesn’t clutter the page much, doesn’t “detract” much, and Google can counter with the old web designer response “well, if everyone requested a 7 letter hyperlink from the home page, the home page would be all cluttered…” etc.

Google tests, and it is safe to assume testing has revealed that privacy homepage link hurts the page goal achievement rate. And it hurts enough to warrant resisting the laws of the state where Google is incorporated.

privacy rights clearing house

One Comment

  1. Dare I say “n = 1” on the title statement? :)

    Tuesday, June 3, 2008 at 9:38 am | Permalink