Archive for January, 2011

January 28, 2011

Google Boost

Google Places for business seems to have everyone guessing at the moment.  What is the new, still unannounced Google response to Group On?

Google Offers

Is it Google Offers? But aren’t Google Offers merely the yellow Tags advertised in November 2010 as a fee-based add-on to a regular Google Places listing?

There are coupon offers available on many Google Places listings for businesses.  Are these the same as the Google Places optional free feature to offer discounts alongside one’s business listing?

Both TechCrunch and TheNextWeb ran stories about the potentially new Google Offers product within the past 24 hours. Various experts weighed in via the comments, raising many of the issues I just mentioned.

From my own personal experiences with Google Places for business listings, I am inclined to believe that nothing new has happened. However, I’ve seen two items to the contrary. I’m not the only person who observed this.

Evidence regarding of the existence, or non-existence, of a new Google Offers product:

  1. I don’t recall any mention of a product named Google Offers. Google is very specific about such things. I confirmed the claims that listings for Google Offers were now visible as results on Google Search. Is this new?  One way to confirm is by running a web cache search for the same query and businesses for one of more dates in the two-three months between introduction of Google Places with Tags and now. This assumes that I can find some businesses who were running Google Tags and/ or coupon offers continuously between mid-November and now. I will try that after publishing this post.
  2. Google announced a new iGoogle widget in some places, for the express purpose of identifying Google Offers. Google explicitly states that this widget is new. When did Google first offer the widget? Is this significant on its own if I cannot get confirmation for item 1?

As I was hunting around for more clues, I found yet another product with which I was unfamiliar: Google Boost.

Google Boost

I have copy-and-pasted the text from the https secured service login page below. I haven’t clicked the links or checked the available service areas yet.

Google Boost

Google Boost Illustration

New! Get more local customers with Google Boost

Advertise your business on Google search and Google Maps

Done in minutes:  Simply pick business categories, choose ad text, and set a budget

Automatically managed:  Boost manages everything and figures out where to show your ad

Pay only for success: You only pay when potential customers click on your ad

Google Boost is set up from within your free Google Places account. Google Places helps your business get found on Google Search and Maps.  If you don’t already have a Places account, we’ll set you up with one first. Learn more.

Boost is currently available for select categories in select locationsTo get started, sign in with your Google Account or create a new one.

Is Google Boost the real Google product response to Group On?

Or is Google Boost actually an existing product about which I am unaware because it is not offered in my geographic area?  Stay tuned! Answers will be obtained in short order!


January 24, 2011

Special Google Searches

The special searches help section in Google Webmaster Tools was updated for the first time in several years, as of October 2010. Special search results give insight about how your site is indexed by Google.

 

Logo image

Google Webmaster Central Logo

Special site searches

This command returns the full list of special search queries:

info:operator

Search indexed pages

View all pages indexed by Google for your site using  site:operator

Entering

site:google.com

returns all indexed pages for google.com

Note: Don’t use a space between the operator and the URL!

Google search for Wikipedia

Google search results for domain Wikipedia.com and eight sub-domains

Search within a single domain or sub-domain

The same syntax is used whether searching an entire domain, or restricting the search to a sub-domain only.

The same syntax is also used to restrict search results to a specific sub-directory.

The command to search only within the webmasters sub-directory of site google.com is

site:google.com/webmasters

 

Exclude pages

To exclude particular pages from search, use a minus sign before the operator.

This would be the command to return results for all indexed pages on the google.com domain, without any adwords.google.com pages:

site:google.com -site:adwords.google.com

Pages that link to your site’s front page

To search for sites linking to http://www.google.com use either:

  1. link:google.com or
  2. link:www.google.com

Google advises using the first command syntax as it will return more complete results.

Links to pages

Search for all links to specific pages or sub-directories. This command will return all links to the webmasters sub-directory of domain google.com
link:google.com/webmasters

The current cache of your site

View Google’s archived copy of an indexed web page using the cache:operator

This is sometimes called the cached version of the page. For example,

cache:google.com

displays the most recent version of the Google homepage google.com as well as the cache creation date. You may also view a plain-text version of the page. This is useful because it shows how Googlebot sees the page.

Pages that are similar to your site

The related:operator displays websites similar to the site you are looking for. It returns the same results as clicking Similar pages next to a result on the main Google Search results page. Google provides more detail:

This search is like searching a bookstore to find books similar to the first Harry Potter novel. The results could include other children’s books, a biography of J.K. Rowling, or a non-fiction book on children’s literature. In general, use this operator to find resources that overlap. You’ll get the best and most useful results if you use sites that cover a broad range of content.

Google uses several factors to determine the similarity of different sites but does not describe these factors any further, other than stating that

the quality of the sites returned has no impact on your ranking or on how Google indexes your site.

January 24, 2011

QR Codes for Google Favorite Places

What’s that bar code?

This unique bar code on the lower right of the sticker, known as a QR code, lets customers – and potential customers – instantly learn more about a business, by visiting a mobile version of the business’ Place Page on any supported phone.

via QR Codes for Google Favorite Places.

QR Code and Google Maps logo

Google Maps Favorite Places logo with expanded QR code example

Learn more about Google Favorite Places.

Favorite Places are a feature of Google Maps, but not the same as a Google Places Page.

Tags: ,
January 21, 2011

Search engine spam

… a decade ago, the spam situation was so bad that search engines would regularly return off-topic webspam. For the most part, Google has successfully beaten that—even while some spammers resort to sneakier or even illegal tactics such as hacking websites. Today, English-language spam in Google’s results is less than half what it was five years ago, and even lower in other languages.

However, we have seen a slight uptick of spam in recent months

We recently launched a document-level classifier that makes it harder for spammy on-page content to rank highly. The new classifier is better at detecting spam on individual web pages, e.g., repeated spammy words—the sort of phrases you tend to see in junky, automated, self-promoting blog comments. We’ve also radically improved our ability to detect hacked sites.

We’ll explore …  new ways for users to give more explicit feedback about spammy and low-quality sites.

As “pure webspam” has decreased over time, attention has shifted instead to “content farms,” which are sites with shallow or low-quality content. In 2010, we launched two major algorithmic changes focused on low-quality sites. Nonetheless, people are asking for even stronger action [on such sites]. We can and should do better.

via Official Google Blog: Google search and search engine spam.

January 17, 2011

Google Buzz for users, web sites and developers

Logo by Google

Google Buzz Logo and Button

Help people share stuff from your website using Google Buzz! Google Buzz buttons are the easiest way to allow people to share content from your site using Google Buzz.

Post to Google Buzz

Configure the Buzz widget for your website or blog. Choose one of three different Google Buzz button styles. Select your preferred language.

The Google Buzz widget is only offered in a JavaScript version.  Google does not offer an HTML-only Buzz button. This is both inconvenient and puzzling. Why?

Many web sites and digital publishing platforms do not allow JavaScript due to security concerns. In fact, WordPress does not allow JavaScript on WordPress.com hosted blogs. The Google-owned Blogger blog product does allow limited use of JavaScript.

Yet Google Sites, the replacement for Google Groups, does not allow JavaScript. As a result, Google Sites users cannot include the Google Buzz widget on a Google Site!

Follow on Google Buzz

Allow users to follow you on Google Buzz without needing to leave your website. Promote your own Google Buzz account with the follow on Google Buzz widget and button for your website.

The Google Buzz API lets you syndicate Google Buzz posts, connect sites to Buzz, and more.  You do not need pre-approval to use the Google Buzz API or Google Buzz buttons or to promote the API functionality on your site using the provided buttons.

Google Buzz Branding Guidelines

Google has specific branding requirements that must be observed if developing an application using the Google Buzz API:

  • Give your application or website a unique name with unique branding and logos.
  • Include a disclaimer that your site is not affiliated with, sponsored by, or endorsed by Google Inc.
  • Do not use the Google Buzz logo or buttons as the most prominent element in the logo or icon for your application, nor as the most prominent element on your web page.
  • Do not include “Google Buzz” in the name of your application, domain name, website title or name.
  • Do not use the Google Buzz logo or buttons in a way that implies sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement by Google.
  • Do not display the Google Buzz logo on any web site that has or displays adult content, promotes gambling, promotes violence, contains hate speech, involves the sale of tobacco or alcohol to persons under twenty-one years of age, violates other applicable laws or regulations or is otherwise objectionable.
January 15, 2011

YouTube Tornado Spectacular

How to Search on YouTube

How to search

Looking for a tornado video, of any length, with newsworthy content?

Search query example and results via YouTube Press and Broadcasting information page.

search results on YouTube

Search Correctly to Find This on YouTube

January 15, 2011

Client Libraries for Google Data APIs

Google writes and supports client libraries for developers. This makes it easier to write applications using Google product data as well as accessing the corresponding Google product API’s.

Google Data Protocol Provides Client Libraries

Google Data client libraries are available for these languages:

  • Java
  • JavaScript
  • .NET
  • PHP*
  • Python
  • Objective-C

*PHP client library is distributed as part of Zend, not as a Google Code Project.

All client libraries are hosted on code.google.com (Google Code) other than PHP. Separate documentation is posted for each library. You can view the open-source code and browse through any new feature requests. Read articles about how other developers have used client libraries.  Each client library has its own FAQ section. File bug reports, if you find any! Google continues to actively support the Client Libraries, including bug fixes.

There is a single external client library, neither written nor supported by Google, the Force.com Toolkit for Google Data API’s. It is an Apex client library for Salesforce.com developers.

More details about Data API’s and client libraries

Google introduced many new products recently, both regular releases and Labs. Many have API’s. I counted twenty listings in the most recent official Google Data API Directory.

Not surprisingly, Google retains parity with its other products by Blogger coverage of the client libraries. The Google Apps Developer blog includes Data Protocol related posts.

Why is a Client Library helpful?

According to Google Data Protocol,

the library provides tools and an abstraction layer, letting you construct queries and use response data without having to create HTTP requests or process HTTP responses by hand.”

Each client library offers classes corresponding to elements and data types used by the API.

JavaScript Client Library

Google Data Protocol offers particularly detailed documentation, including code examples for common use cases, for the JavaScript Client Library. The most current release is version 2.0. This should be particularly helpful for Google Maps API users.

What are ETags?

Make sure to have a look at usage suggestions for ETags. ETags are identifiers that help specify entry version numbers, and are helpful for chronology and avoiding overwrites,  They also facilitate conditional retrieval and updates. Only services running Google Data Protocol version 2.0 support ETags.

Comprehensive documentation for the JavaScript client library API reference is now available in JSdoc format.

January 8, 2011

Google Books

You can now create personalized libraries on Google Books.

Google Books Product

Google Books Logo

Create your own library and add book reviews and ratings on Google Books

Label, review, rate, and of course, do full-text searches of a customized choice of books.

Sample entry

Book Listing in Google My Library page

More details and step-by-step instructions on setting up your Google Library are available on the Google Books help page.
Some books are free to access, save to your library and read. Others are not.

 

 

You can preview pre-selected pages before purchasing.

rate and review

Screen shot of Google My Library

I don’t use the Amazon Kindle product, but I do buy physical books on Amazon. Amazon’s book preview is comparable to Google Books preview, although Google Books offers at least 20 pages as a preview. Amazon usually displays only the front and back covers, table of contents, and a few pages of text. Google Books are available as a PDF or EPUB formatted file after you pay using either Google Checkout or PayPal.

January 7, 2011

Contacting Support or Aardvark

These are the options offered by Google for contacting user support:

  • Email
    1. Report a problem:  contact_type = problem
    2. Send feedback:   contact_type = feedback
  • Search the Help Center
  • Ask an expert

Don’t expect a response to your email. Google says that isn’t their policy in most cases.

Next option is The Help Center. The Help Center for most Google products is a distinctly user do-it-yourself arrangement, also known as users helping other users, a.k.a. the blind leading the blind in the worst-case scenario. Google employees do track and respond to issues, but with a varying amount of attentiveness and follow-through.

I really like the sound of the last option…. What’s that about?

vark.com is Aardvark!

Can’t find what you’re looking for in our Help Center? Let Aardvark try to find an expert for you.

Ask an expert at http://vark.com .

Aardvark is alive and well as a Google product. Don’t be misled by the seemingly non-Google domain name.

Aardvark logo from CrunchBase

An Aardvark from TechCrunch

More details should be available from the Google contact page: contact_type = contact_policy .

Not fluent in Python? Me neither. This is the URL syntax for using contact_type :

http://www.google.com/support/toolbar/bin/request.py?contact_type=

Note that everything in this post is specific to Google Toolbar. Contact options differ to varying degrees for each Google product.

January 7, 2011

AdSense Promotional Stickers Reappear

Google AdSense is once again offering their promotional stickers. They appeared for the first time as a post on the Inside AdSense blog back in March of 2008. I was looking at the AdSense Resources page this morning, and noticed a pleasant oval image

AdSense Sticker usage

Get your AdSense stickers!

The link is for the original story from AdSense blog, “Stick-em Up”. After scrolling to the end of 170+ comments, I finally saw the entry from November 21, 2010 by the Inside AdSense Team. Send your self-addressed stamped envelope to the address provided and receive a sticker by mail. Assuming any remain available. I’m uncertain of that, as I just sent my envelope this morning…

Tags:
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.