What are cookies?
Cookies are small text files that websites send to your internet-connected device (computer, mobile, tablet etc.) when you visit certain web pages. The cookie is not a program and has no power to effect change; most cookies note the name of the website you visited and a unique user ID that is not able to identify you personally.
What are cookies used for?
Cookies collect (non-personal) information about how visitors use websites and are really useful to site owners as well as very helpful to the visitor; the information collected by cookies helps the website to work more efficiently for each user by storing the preferences indicated by your ID (like text size etc.). Website owners also find cookies useful for counting how many visitors came to the site, what parts of the site they visited and if the navigation of the site worked efficiently.
How do cookies work?
On your first visit to a website, a cookie is downloaded to your device and then on your next visit, your device will perform a check to see if a cookie exists. If the cookie is found, the website then ‘knows’ that you visited before and can utilise the cookie information to improve your experience of the site.
Website performance is monitored by most businesses to see how well they perform and find ways to improve. One way to monitor website performance is with Google Analytics; this examines how many visitors a site has had, what pages were visited, what brought them to the site (ie: what search terms were used) etc. Google Analytics puts cookies on your device to help site owners analyse visitor data.