Table of contents
- What are cookies (cookie files)?
- What is the purpose of cookie files?
- How to clear browsing history and cookies in a browser?
- Removing cookies after each user’s session – step by step
- Removing cookies in Google Chrome – step by step
- Cookie banner – what should it look like? What should it consist of? Guide
- Cookie files – what exactly changes in 2022?
- Cookie files – the dangers of the wrong implementation
- What happens if you extend the period of 7 days?
- How to properly implement consent mode?
But before we get into “juicy” data about cookies, let’s start with some basics and definitions.
What are cookies (cookie files)?
Cookies are small text files that contain certain digital information and are stored on the users’ computer and mobile devices. They may vary in the categories of the collected data but their mechanism is unified.
First party cookies are local data about the users and their contact with this particular website – e.g. data about products in the e-commerce shopping cart or authentication cookies needed to register or log in to the website.
Third party cookies (sometimes called non-essential cookies) are cookies that are not created by the website, but by a third party. The most common example of third party cookies are files created by advertising networks that support user profiling. Other third party cookies may be connected with social media platforms, tracking cookies, etc.
What is the purpose of cookie files?
Cookies are intended to collect information about the users each time they visit the web pages. Cookies are used for various purposes, including (but not limited to) analytics cookies, remembering login details to the website, items in the online shopping cart, or bound displayed ads to the user’s interests, taking into account the user’s private preferences, based mostly on user’s browsing history and activities on the Web.
A properly implemented cookie banner does not affect SEO activities. By introducing it, you do not have to worry about drops in your positions in search engine results (SERPs).
How to clear browsing history and cookies in a browser?
Earlier this week you decided to browse for a new refrigerator. You visited a few online stores and saw some offers, but ultimately decided to cancel the mission and wait for a seasonal discount. The next day while visiting non-related websites (e.g. news portals or blogs) you were bombarded with refrigerators ads.
Why did it happen?
Cookies are stored in the user’s browser, and both the websites you have visited and third parties use this information to display more relevant ads. Moreover, if your browser window has many opened tabs, by switching between them, you are passing information about your history to other websites and pages. So you are unconsciously walking along the digital path – if we talk about internet cookies, we can call it a path of breadcrumbs.
Cookies are not automatically deleted after closing a browser’s window and remain active for some time (except from so-called session cookies, popular e.g. on banking services websites. By the way, non-session cookies are called persistent cookies). The most popular way to avoid browser cookies is to use incognito mode. This means your activity won’t be saved in your browser history, and websites will register you as a new user – they won’t connect your current activities with any past visit until you sign in.
If you don’t use incognito mode (or use browser extensions that automatically erase cookies), data stored in cookie files will require manual deleting. Some cookies have a predefined expiration date, but in most cases, the browser stores them for a very long time. You can set the time range in your browser’s settings.
Removing cookies after each user’s session – step by step
In most modern browsers removing cookies after closing a browser is a very simple process. Remember – it will erase both session cookies and persistent cookies.
Google Chrome: set the option “Clear cookies and site data when you close all windows” (Settings → Privacy and Security)
- Mozilla Firefox: Delete cookies and site data when Firefox is closed (Settings → Privacy and Security)
- Microsoft Edge: click on “Choose what to clear every time you close the browser” and set “Cookies and other site data” (Settings → Privacy, search and services)
You can also delete all cookies at once – for example, in Google Chrome the procedure is as follows:
Removing cookies in Google Chrome – step by step
- Open the Chrome browser on your computer
- Click on three dots in the upper right corner
- Click “more tools”
- Click “Clear browsing data”. You can also omit these points and use a keyboard shortcut: Ctrl + Shift + Delete
- You have to set the time range – set “all time” if you want to erase data from the beginning.
- Tick “cookies and other site data” and “cached images and files”. You can also clear the browsing history by ticking “browsing history”
- Click “clear data”
- Aaaand it’s gone.
Cookie banner – what should it look like? What should it consist of? Guide
A proper cookie banner that meets all requirements has to:
- Inform about all the cookie categories used.
- Precisely define the purpose of the collected cookies, using easy, understandable language.
- Have unchecked checkboxes for consent by default (except from those absolutely necessary).
- Give the user the option to consent to certain categories of cookies.
- Give the user the option to change consent and reject cookies.
- Systematically record changes to user consent allocated to websites.
- Automatically block third party cookies until users consent.
- Appear at the top, in the top right corner, or in the footer of the page.
- Display information in the language of the site or the language of the user’s browser (for multilingual sites).
- Provide a user-friendly layout optimized for different devices (computer or mobile device – tablet, smartphone, etc.).
- Contain the exact date of the last update.
Cookie files – what exactly changes in 2022?
Klaudia Zielke, Head of Web Analytics in Verseo, explains:
Klaudia points out that it has often happened (and – o tempora! O mores! – still happens) that the user clicks the “Reject” button, does not agree to personal data collecting, and despite this decision the website still “automatically” collects it. It is usually caused by incorrect implementation of this functionality within the domain.
Cookie files – the dangers of the wrong implementation
Introducing changes has to be done in a complete way. There’s no space for errors and shortcuts. If the implementation is faulty and hasn’t been checked in the test environment, we may lose more than 50% of the data. In another scenario, a flawed switch to “Accept cookies” will result in overstating the data by up to 300%. In both cases, it will have negative consequences for the campaigns and cause gaps in the collected data. As a result, we start to act blindly, and the algorithms supporting our advertising activities learn new information, based on incorrect results – clarifies Klaudia Zielke
But that’s not all the consequences.
Jeśli Twoje reklamy są dostępne w sieci, ale prześpisz zmiany w polityce prywatności i nie dostosujesz ich do nowych wymogów, Google zapuka do wirtualnych drzwi Twojego biznesu.
What happens if you extend the period of 7 days?
The account will be blocked and the campaign will be suspended. This consumes time and generates considerable financial costs. If the campaign is paused, it does not generate revenue from the advertised products and does not link to the promoted website – says Zielke.
In a nutshell – it doesn’t pay off!
How to properly implement consent mode?
The next step is to buy a tool that will allow for adjusting the tags on the website by the consent provided by the user. Google support recommends Cookiebot, Consentmanager, or Cookie Information A/S. In addition, such tools allow website owners to quickly adjust the layout of the cookie banner and its location on the website. According to Cookieyes, the most popular practice is to embed a cookie banner in the website footer.
The rules regarding the layout of cookie banners are set for individual regions. Google’s guidelines presented in this article are set for the entire European Union.
The technical implementation of the banner cookie can be handled by a specialized agency and experienced web developers. At Verseo, we also provide support in this area. Our advice? We do not recommend implementing tags directly in the website code – this method has a high error rate. It is much safer to use the user consent management platforms available on the market. This allows us to integrate with the consent mode and settings in Google Tag Manager (GTM).
A well-implemented cookie banner should require interaction – this guarantees the possibility of collecting and storing data (or at least makes sure that the banner won’t be bypassed by the user) from the very beginning of the user’s contact with the website.