Beware of Giving SEO Tools Access to you Google Search Console

I’m a bit of a privacy nut.

I don’t like sharing information about myself or my business unless I really have to.

At this moment in time, I’m working with a support guy to fix an issue I have with a WordPress Plugin but I won’t give him access to my website – which means it is taking a lot longer than it should with emails going back and forth containing instructions of things for me to try.

My thinking is that, given admin access, there is a chance he may screw something up. And there is a lot of data in the Admin Console that could potentially be sold to my competitors.

Rationally, I know this is unlikely – this is just a guy who wants to help me to get his plugin working – but if it were to happen then I could lose money. So I err on the side of caution.

But I’m going off on a tangent….I’ll get back on track….

GSC is a Goldmine

Anyone that makes money from SEO knows that Google Search Console (GSC) for a website that is getting good traffic has a wealth of information that can be leveraged to improve search engine rankings.

Simply taking a look at which keywords you’re already getting good impressions for but are hovering outside the top 10 can be a great indicator of which pages to optimise. But I’ll perhaps go into that in more detail at another time…

The crux of the matter is that there is a lot of intelligence in GSC that is not available from keyword research tools, such as ahrefs or semrush – for example, volume data in these tools can be quite inaccurate, especially for long-tail keywords.

And because the source of the data is Google, it is going to be pretty reliable.

3rd Party Tools Need Your Data

If I owned a keyword research tool, I would want to integrate that gorgeous GSC data into my database. But how would I go about getting it from the website owners? Perhaps by offering a free tool that uses the GSC API.

Users give me their data and I give them some insights and fancy graphs in return. Best of all, I get to keep the data and use it to produce more accurate data for my paid users.

That may sound cynical, but that is exactly what could be happening.

Ubersuggest

This is taken from Neil Patel’s (Ubersuggest) Privacy Policy:

Ubersuggest automatically receives and logs 'keywords your site ranks for', 'click volume', 'search volume', 'click volume from mobile versus desktop traffic'.

In essence, when you consent (as in connect Ubersuggest to your GSC), Ubersuggest grabs all your GSC data. A little further down:

So the data Ubersuggest collects from GSC can be (and probably is) used to improve and develop products and services.

Is it any wonder you can only login to Ubersuggest with a Google Account? No Facebook. No apple. Not even a local registration. Just Google because maybe the real intent is to get your data.

AHREFS

It is a similar case with ahrefs. Take a look at their privacy policy:

Summary: Ahrefs aggregate GSC data to improve products and services.

They say that they aggregate GSC (and Google Analytics) data to improve their products and services.

Other 3rd Party Tools

I’ve picked out a couple of the big guys here but they are not the only ones that are probably doing it. There’s a plethora of free SEO tools that provide some small service in exchange for access to your GSC data. There are even paid tools doing it, so in essence, they are actually getting paid to get free access to data.

I’m not saying that these tools definitely do this and have no evidence to back it up…but I do have my suspicions.

Is It Really That Big a Deal?

This is something that really only you can answer.

How valuable is your GSC data to you? Does the usefulness of the tool outweigh the risks?

Personally, GSC provides me with keyword ideas that 3rd party tools are oblivious too. I’ve written articles that were aimed for a particular keyword, only to discover (through GSC) that it is getting a lot of impressions for a totally different keyword. I go on to optimise for this new keyword and it turns out to be very lucrative. And my competitors know nothing about it because 3rd party tools show it having a search volume of 0.

Now as soon as I hook my GSC to a 3rd party tool, they grab my keyword data, integrate it with their database and pretty soon, my competitors find the low competition keyword that has been making me money. It is no longer a low competition keyword and I have to work twice as hard to maintain my position in the SERPS.

Nope. I’ll keep my GSC data to myself, thank you very much (but I’m more than happy to let my competitors carry on sharing their data with me through these tools). 😉