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Our goal is simple: to give people the most relevant answers to their queries as quickly as possible. This requires constant tuning of our algorithms, as new content—both good and bad—comes online all the time.

Many of the changes we make are so subtle that very few people notice them. But in the last day or so we launched a pretty big algorithmic improvement to our ranking—a change that noticeably impacts 11.8% of our queries—and we wanted to let people know what’s going on. This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.

We can’t make a major improvement without affecting rankings for many sites. It has to be that some sites will go up and some will go down. Google depends on the high-quality content created by wonderful websites around the world, and we do have a responsibility to encourage a healthy web ecosystem. Therefore, it is important for high-quality sites to be rewarded, and that’s exactly what this change does.

It’s worth noting that this update does not rely on the feedback we’ve received from the Personal Blocklist Chrome extension, which we launched last week. However, we did compare the Blocklist data we gathered with the sites identified by our algorithm, and we were very pleased that the preferences our users expressed by using the extension are well represented. If you take the top several dozen or so most-blocked domains from the Chrome extension, then this algorithmic change addresses 84% of them, which is strong independent confirmation of the user benefits.

So, we’re very excited about this new ranking improvement because we believe it’s a big step in the right direction of helping people find ever higher quality in our results. We’ve been tackling these issues for more than a year, and working on this specific change for the past few months. And we’re working on many more updates that we believe will substantially improve the quality of the pages in our results.

To start with, we’re launching this change in the U.S. only; we plan to roll it out elsewhere over time. We’ll keep you posted as we roll this and other changes out, and as always please keep giving us feedback about the quality of our results because it really helps us to improve Google Search.

Update April 11: We’ve rolled out this algorithmic change globally to all English-language Google users and incorporated new signals as we iterate and improve. We’ll continue testing and refining the change before expanding to additional languages. You can learn more on our Webmaster Central Blog.

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(Cross-posted on the LatLong Blog)

I lead a global team at Google and travel extensively. When I speak about my work, the questions I get are often about the efforts we make to bring more women into engineering and how I maintain my work/life balance with two young children. These are very important questions, but I’m acutely aware that they reflect a certain amount of privilege when it comes to issues of women’s equality. Despite the incredible advances women have made in the last century, many around the world are still struggling to provide for their families and keep them safe amidst violence and instability.

For the past several years I’ve been part of a sponsorship program administered by Women for Women International, an organization dedicated to helping women survivors of war rebuild their lives. Every time I receive a letter from a woman I sponsor, each of whom is determined to improve her life despite the terrible odds she faces, I’m reminded of why it’s so important that we all—women and men alike—recognize the challenges women continue to face around the world.

That’s why I’m so excited to celebrate the centenary of International Women’s Day on March 8, 2011. This year Google is collaborating with Women for Women International on their “Join me on the Bridge” campaign. Originally conceived of by women from Rwanda and Congo as a sign of solidarity between women in two conflict-ridden countries, last year’s campaign brought together thousands of women and men at more than 100 bridge events on four continents.



This year we’re making it simple for you, your friends, your classmates and your colleagues to participate in bridge events on International Women’s Day by offering new online resources.

To attend a bridge event, check our map to see all the events that have already been planned. Or you can use our event toolkit to plan your own event on the bridge of your choice. You’ll see that there are two kinds of events—physical and online; if you’re not able to attend a bridge event in person on March 8, you can lend your support online by virtually attending an event via Street View in Google Maps.


Finally, on our International Women’s Day 2011 site, you can to donate to Women for Women International and more than 40 other incredible organizations working in the fields of women’s economic security, education, empowerment, equality, health and safety.

See you on the bridge on March 8!

Update 4:33PM: Added YouTube video.

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As a second-generation Indian who has grown up in the United States, I’ve developed a taste for great home-cooked Indian food, but not a knack for how to make it. Somehow my cooking efforts result in foods that taste over-spiced yet bland at the same time. My parents follow the art of cooking by intuition, where the right amount of each spice is measured out by gut feel, but that’s never worked very well for me. As a math geek and computer engineer, I prefer to work with concrete numbers and instructions, including when cooking, so today I’m very happy about a new feature that helps me find recipes online: Recipe View.

Recipe View lets you narrow your search results to show only recipes, and helps you choose the right recipe amongst the search results by showing clearly marked ratings, ingredients and pictures. To get to Recipe View, click on the “Recipes” link in the left-hand panel when searching for a recipe. You can search for specific recipes like [chocolate chip cookies], or more open-ended topics—like [strawberry] to find recipes that feature strawberries, or even a holiday or event, like [cinco de mayo]. In fact, you can try searching for all kinds of things and still find interesting results: a favorite chef like [ina garten], something very specific like [spicy vegetarian curry with coconut and tofu] or even something obscure like [strange salad].


In the past, you only had one way to specify your recipe searches—with the text you type into the Google search box. Now you can also filter search results based on your ideal ingredients, cooking time and calorie count using the recipe tools on the left hand side of the page. For example, I can now find vegetable biryani recipes (an Indian rice dish) that include cauliflower and take less than an hour to make:


We like to “eat our own dogfood” at Google—meaning we like to test our own products and features ourselves before releasing them for public consumption. With Recipe View, we’ve taken this more literally than usual. Here’s Google Chef Scott Giambastiani to demonstrate how he uses Recipe View to find great recipes for Googlers:



Recipe View is based on data from rich snippets markup, which we first introduced at Searchology in 2009. If you’re a recipe publisher, you can add markup to your webpages so that your content can appear with this improved presentation in regular Google results as well as in Recipe View. Recipe View is part of our ongoing efforts to enrich the search experience using structured data, and this release is an exciting technical milestone for our team since it’s first time we’ve built a brand new set of search tools based off of rich snippets data.

Recipe View is rolling out now in the U.S. and Japan, and we’ll be adding more countries in the future. We look forward to making further improvements and building more views so you can “slice and dice” your results for other types of searches as well. Bon appetit!

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The Google Apps collaboration tools have steadily and swiftly improved over the last couple years, and many companies have found that Google Docs and Google Sites are faster, simpler and more powerful than traditional software for the majority of common tasks, especially tasks where people need to work efficiently together. Today, we’re launching two new initiatives to help more people experience the productivity benefits of web-powered collaboration.

First, Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office is now available worldwide. This plugin for Microsoft Office is available to anyone with a Google Account, and brings multi-person collaboration to the Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint applications that you may still need from time to time. The plugin syncs your work through Google’s cloud, so everyone can contribute to the same version of a file at the same time. Learning the benefits of web-powered collaboration will help more people make a faster transition to 100% web collaboration tools.



We’re also introducing the 90-Day Appsperience program, a way for companies that currently use cumbersome legacy systems to see how web-powered tools help their teams work together more effectively. A nominal fee covers 90-day access to Google Docs, Google Sites, Google Cloud Connect and more, as well as assistance from Google experts to help coworkers quickly become more productive together. And companies trying Google Apps can use the new collaboration dashboard in the Google Apps control panel to assess the value of our tools. The dashboard provides data on how people are using Apps to collaborate more efficiently without the hassles of document versions, check-in/check-out or attachments.


If you’re curious how your company could become more agile, efficient and innovative with better tools for teams to work together, read more about these updates on the Google Enterprise Blog.

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It’s not just the Android team that is exploring the outer reaches of our galaxy. In recent years, advertising technology has had its own “Big Bang": a rapid onset of incredible growth and expansion in the display advertising universe.

Display advertising is one of our big focus areas. Better display advertising helps to fund the websites and content we all use and read, provides useful and engaging commercial information, and helps large and small advertisers to reach new customers, increase sales and grow their businesses.

Just as the laws of physics have helped us make sense of our own expanding universe, we think that there are three “laws of display advertising physics” to help advertisers and agencies thrive. We’ve laid out these laws and what they mean for advertisers and agencies on our Agency Ad Solutions Blog:
  1. The Theory of Relativity: The distinction between different advertising technologies (like ad networks and demand side platforms) is blurring. Each of these technologies provides similar ways to achieve your marketing goals, depending on how you want to manage your campaign.

  2. Fusion Theory: There’s a few different ways to deliver ads to people. Each on their own is powerful, but combining these different ways unlocks the best results.

  3. The Law of Perpetual Motion: New technology is driving rapid change in display advertising—which is constantly improving marketers’ creative palettes and the way that ads are bought and sold. Embracing new media and technology provides a key way for marketers to differentiate and grow their businesses in a new universe.
The expansion in the advertising industry is leading towards a future with a better advertising universe for everyone—where people see more relevant, useful ads, publishers get better returns to fund their content and marketers can run more effective campaigns.

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(Cross-posted from the European Public Policy Blog)

Journalism is changing fast. And as news businesses experiment with new ways of creating and delivering journalism in the digital age, Google is keen to play its part on the technology side. Over the last year, we’ve been partnering with publishers around the world to develop technological solutions—including, most recently, One Pass—to find new and engaging ways of presenting stories online and to generate greater revenues.

As well as our focus on technological experimentation, we’re also investing at the grassroots level. Last October we announced that we would be giving $5 million in grants to non-profit organisations working on developing new approaches to journalism. At that time, we allocated around 40% of the total fund to the Knight Foundation in the U.S.

Today, we awarded a $2.7 million grant to the International Press Institute, based in Vienna, which will be used to sponsor the IPI News Innovation Contest. The contest seeks to find and fund breakthrough ideas that will have a lasting impact on the future of digital news in communities across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Grants will be awarded to both non-profit and for-profit organisations working on digital journalism initiatives, including open-source and mobile technology projects created by or for journalists and distributed in the public interest. From today until June 1, the IPI will invite proposals from around the region for projects devoted to online innovation in journalism, new economic models for news and training in digital reporting.

The IPI has a long tradition of working on innovation in journalism, freedom of expression and other important issues. We’re sure they’ll be able to find and advance some great digital journalism projects over the next couple of years—and we encourage anyone with innovative ideas, large or small, to apply for a grant from the IPI. In the meantime, we’ll continue to work with the news industry to help develop new projects, products and experiments that make it possible for journalism to thrive online.

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This is the latest post in our series profiling entrepreneurial Googlers working on products across the company and around the world. Here, you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at how one Googler built an entire R&D team around voice technology that has gone on to power products like YouTube transcriptions and Voice Search. - Ed.

When I first interviewed at Google during the summer of 2004, mobile was just making its way onto the company’s radar. My passion was speech technology, the field in which I’d already worked for 20 years. After 10 years of speech research at SRI, followed by 10 years helping build Nuance Communications, the company I co-founded in 1994, I was ready for a new challenge. I felt that mobile was an area ripe for innovation, with a need for speech technology, and destined to be a key platform for delivery of services.

During my interview, I shared my desire to pursue the mobile space and mentioned that if Google didn’t have any big plans for mobile, then I probably wouldn’t be a good fit for the company. Well, I got the job, and I started soon after, without a team or even a defined role. In classic Google fashion, I was encouraged to explore the company, learn about what various teams were working on and figure out what was needed.

After a few months, I presented an idea to senior management to build a telephone-based spoken interface to local search. Although there was a diversity of opinion at the meeting about what applications made the most sense for Google, all agreed that I should start to build a team focused on speech technology. With help from a couple of Google colleagues who also had speech backgrounds, I began recruiting, and within a few months people were busily building our own speech recognition system.

Six years later, I’m excited by how far we’ve come and, in turn, how our long-term goals have expanded. When I started, I had to sell other teams on the value of speech technology to Google's mission. Now, I’m constantly approached by other teams with ideas and needs for speech. The biggest challenge is scaling our effort to meet the opportunities. We've advanced from GOOG-411, our first speech-driven service, to Voice Search, Voice Input, Voice Actions, a Voice API for Android developers, automatic captioning of YouTube videos, automatic transcription of voicemail for Google Voice and speech-to-speech translation, amongst others. In the past year alone, we’ve ported our technology to more than 20 languages.



Speech technology requires an enormous amount of data to feed our statistical models and lots of computing power to train our systems—and Google is the ideal place to pursue such technical approaches. With large amounts of data, computing power and an infrastructure focused on supporting large-scale services, we’re encouraged to launch quickly and iterate based on real-time feedback.

I’ve been exploring speech technology for nearly three decades, yet I see huge potential for further innovation. We envision a comprehensive interface for voice and text communication that defies all barriers of modality and language and makes information truly universally accessible. And it’s here at Google that I think we have the best chance to make this future a reality.

Update 9:39 PM: Changed title of post to clarify that speech technology is not only used on mobile phones but also for transcription tasks like YouTube captioning and voicemail transcription. -Ed.

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(Cross-posted on the Code Blog)

This time of year, everyone in the United States is starting to fill out—with varying levels of enthusiasm—our federal income tax forms. Yet, after we write our checks to the IRS, most of us don’t really know exactly where our money is going.

Fortunately, there’s a new online tool to help us find out. Last year, Andrew Johnson and Louis Garcia, two developers from Minneapolis, Minn., created a website called whatwepayfor.com that uses public data to estimate how our tax money is spent. You enter your income and filing status on the site, and it creates a formatted table of numbers showing your contributions to the federal budget—down to the penny:


We’re impressed by what the website uncovers. In 2010, for example, a married couple making $40,000 a year contributed approximately $14.07 to space operations, $6.83 to aviation security and $0.91 to the Peace Corps…and those are just a few of the hundreds of expenditures revealed on the site. As we spent time exploring all of these details, it got us thinking: how we could make the information even more accessible? So we created a simple interactive data visualization:


Click the image above to try the interactive version—it lets you drag the bubbles around, change the income level and so on. You can now look at the data in a new way, and it’s a little more fun to explore. Of course, there are lots of ways to visualize the data, and we’re very sure there are many talented designers and developers around the country who can do it even better than we have.

To make that happen, we’ve teamed up with Eyebeam, a not-for-profit art and technology center, to host what we’re calling the Data Viz Challenge. Andrew and Louis have built an API to let anyone access the data, so now you can choose how to display it. Could you create a better animated chart? Something in 3D? An interactive website? A physical display somewhere in the real world? We want you to show everyone how data visualization can be a powerful tool for turning information into understanding.

You can enter the challenge at datavizchallenge.org, where you’ll also find more information about challenge and the data. The challenge starts today and ends March 27, 2011, and is open to the U.S. only. The top visualization, as chosen by a jury, will receive a $5,000 award and a shout-out on the site and this blog. We’ll announce the shortlist on the week of April 11, and the winners on April 18, a.k.a. Tax Day.

If you’re a data viz enthusiast, we hope you’ll take a look at the data and build your own creative visualization. But even if you’re not, hopefully the results will help you appreciate what data visualization can do, and its usefulness in turning raw information—like federal income tax numbers—into something you can explore and understand.

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This is part of a regular series of Google Apps updates that we post every couple of weeks. Look for the label “Google Apps highlights" and subscribe to the series. - Ed.

This Friday update includes improvements to the Gmail mobile web app and Google Docs interfaces, a feature long-sought-after by many Google Voice fans, a powerful account security improvement and stories from several of the companies and government agencies that have recently moved to Google Apps.

Priority Inbox for Gmail mobile web app
Keeping what’s most important front and center is especially helpful on the smaller screen of your mobile device, so we were happy to release Priority Inbox in the Gmail mobile web app. If your phone’s browser supports HTML5, you’ll see the familiar Priority Inbox sections and message importance markers when you visit gmail.com.


Doc list refresh
The documents list in Google Docs got a visual makeover and tune-up on Monday. We added a helpful set of filters to quickly narrow down search results, a right-side preview panel to show details about a selected file and the ability to view uploaded media like photos and videos. What we previously called “Folders” are now called “Collections,” and we’re making the whole interface snappier to save you time.


Port numbers to Google Voice
Last month, we updated Google Voice in response to one of our top user requests: the ability to port existing phone numbers to Google Voice. If you have a beloved phone number that you want to keep as your primary digits, but want Google Voice to ring multiple phones when someone calls, Number Porting might be for you. There’s a $20 charge for Number Porting, and your wireless carrier may charge an early termination fee, so we recommend that you check with your carrier before porting. For more details, check the Google Voice Help Center.



2-Step Verification available to all
Now everyone can help keep their account safer with 2-Step Verification, which we released to Google Apps business customers last year. This advanced security feature works by requiring you to sign in with something you know (your password) plus something you have (a code from your mobile phone). 2-Step Verification helps ensure that the person trying to access your account is the real you.


New setup wizard for Google Apps administrators
Organizations using Google Apps often get up and running in under an hour, but we wanted the setup experience to be even faster and easier. Last week we added a new Google Apps setup wizard to the administrative control panel, which gives guided help for creating user accounts, migrating existing mail to Gmail, routing user email to Gmail and more.


Who’s gone Google?
Recently we’ve seen a surge in new public sector customers—including the Administrative Conference of the United States, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks and the City of Rochester Hills. These organizations are not only saving taxpayer dollars with Google Apps, but also boosting the productivity of their ranks.

More than 50,000 businesses have also started using Google Apps in the last three weeks. Pithy Little Wine Co., DeyFischer Consulting, Manna on Main Street and Hunter Douglas are just a few of the businesses we’ve profiled recently who are are going 100% web.

I hope these product updates and customer stories help you and your organization get even more from Google Apps. For more details and the latest news, check out the Google Apps Blog.

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(Cross-posted from the Students Blog and Lat Long Blog)

When I was in elementary school, I got two days off every February; one for George Washington and another for Abraham Lincoln. I remember classrooms were usually wallpapered with a potpourri of decorations left over from Valentine’s Day and token silhouettes of these two Presidents thumb-tacked to the bulletin board. My teachers would talk about the significance of the holiday during class but with lack of visuals to pique my interest, it was always hard to retain (and fully enjoy!) the information. With that in mind, we’re pleased to celebrate the President’s Day holiday in the U.S. by letting you go back in time to learn more about our past presidents in a visually fun and interactive way.

We’ve created a U.S. Presidents Showcase to map the birthplaces of all 44 presidents, and provide details about their presidential terms, using the Google Earth plug-in. You can also see the states that voted during each president’s election by clicking on the tours in the left column of the showcase.


Whether you’re a history buff or simply curious to learn more about U.S. presidents, we hope you enjoy exploring a little further using Google Earth. In addition to the U.S. Presidents map, educators can use some of our other resources in their classroom to explore more aspects of history. Here are a few ideas:
  • Explore the White House, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and other historical monuments in 3D and have students explain how architecture is used to honor people, concepts and establishments
  • View a 3D model of Valley Forge National Park in Google Earth
  • View a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by Abraham Lincoln and map the areas where slavery ended, as well as the areas that were not initially covered by this executive order
  • Discuss the famous painting “Washington Crossing the Delaware” by German American artist Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze and use the ruler tool in Google Earth to measure the width of the Delaware River
We hope you have fun exploring and learning a little more of the history behind the President’s Day holiday. And when you’re done, go out and enjoy your day off!

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This is the latest in our series of YouTube highlights. Every couple of weeks, we bring you regular updates on new product features, interesting programs to watch and tips you can use to grow your audience on YouTube. Just look for the label “YouTube Highlights” and subscribe to the series. – Ed.

A lot has happened since our last update, including protests in Egypt, a major U.S. sporting event, the launch of the Google Art project and the Grammy Music Awards—all portrayed in different ways by YouTube and our global community.

Footage of protests in the Middle East on YouTube
Thousands of videos of the protests in Egypt earlier this month were uploaded to YouTube, giving people access to raw footage shot by Egyptians on the ground. People around the world could access these videos by visiting CitizenTube, YouTube’s news and politics channel, or watching live coverage on Al Jazeera’s Arabic and English YouTube channels, as well as Fox News' and Arabic broadcaster Al-Arabiya’s YouTube channels. We’ve also been working with news curation group Storyful to curate videos from the protest movements in Bahrain, Iran, Yemen, Algeria and Libya—you can check out highlights on CitizenTube.

This week’s trends on YouTube
Each weekday, YouTube Trends takes a look at the most interesting videos and cultural phenomena on YouTube. Here’s a sampling from the past two weeks:



2011 Nonprofit Video Awards
For the second year in a row, we’re working to help nonprofits succeed through the DoGooder Nonprofit Video Awards, a celebration of the best nonprofit video on the site. Submit your nonprofit’s video at www.youtube.com/nonprofitvideoawards. Prizes include $2,500 grants from the Case Foundation, Flip cams, free admission to the Nonprofit Technology Conference and a spotlight on the YouTube homepage.

Showtime’s “SHORT stories” recruits short filmmakers
Showtime wants to feature cutting-edge web filmmakers through its “SHORT stories” series. If you’re a filmmaker interested in the project, find out more from Showtime's Trevor Noren.

The big game: find out which ads garnered the most views
The halftime ads during the U.S.’s biggest sporting event, the Super Bowl, are notoriously popular—and this past game was no exception. YouTube Trends analyzed which ads were the most-searched commercials in the hours following the big game and compiled the top 10 most-viewed ads the day after.
 We also discovered some fun facts about the big game: Did you know that an estimated 69.6 million pounds of avocados were consumed on that Sunday? Or that this time was the first Super Bowl with no cheerleaders? Check out YouTube AdBlitz to watch any ads you may have missed.

Events worth watching
In case you missed them live, you can still catch up on some of the big happenings of the past few weeks on YouTube:



We’ll update you again in a few weeks. In the meantime, visit the YouTube Blog for more on ongoing programs such as On the Rise and YouTube Trends.

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Uncharted 2: Among Thieves was the biggest video game of 2009. It sold more than 3.5 million copies worldwide, was identified by Metacritic as the most critically acclaimed game of the year, racked up more than 50 Game of the Year awards and set a new bar for artistry and storytelling in a video game. I spent more Saturday nights than I care to admit playing this game, so I was pretty excited when I found out that Robh Ruppel, Art Director at Naughty Dog Studios, used Google SketchUp to help design the game’s look and feel.

We sat down with Robh to hear how he used SketchUp to visualize Uncharted 2’s environments.



To hear more of our conversation with Robh and see some of his work, check out the Google SketchUp blog.

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(Cross-posted on the Social Web Blog)

Today we’re doing a little bit more to bring you all the goodness of Google, plus the opinions of the people you care about. As always, we want to help you find the most relevant answers among the billions of interconnected pages on the web. But relevance isn’t just about pages—it’s also about relationships. That’s why we introduced Google Social Search in 2009, and why we’ve made a number of improvements since then. Today we’re taking another step forward—enabling you to get even more information from the people that matter to you, whether they’re publishing on YouTube, Flickr or their own blog or website.

First, social search results will now be mixed throughout your results based on their relevance (in the past they only appeared at the bottom). This means you’ll start seeing more from people like co-workers and friends, with annotations below the results they’ve shared or created. So if you’re thinking about climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and your colleague Matt has written a blog post about his own experience, then we’ll bump up that post with a note and a picture:

Social search results can rank anywhere on the page, and you’ll see who shared the result in the annotation underneath

Second, we’ve made Social Search more comprehensive by adding notes for links people have shared on Twitter and other sites. In the past, we’d show you results people created and linked through their Google profiles. Now, if someone you’re connected to has publicly shared a link, we may show that link in your results with a clear annotation (which is visible only to you, and only when you’re signed in). For example, if you’re looking for a video of President Obama on “The Daily Show” and your friend Nundu tweeted the video, that result might show up higher in your results and you’ll see a note with a picture of Nundu:

Now Social Search includes links people share on Twitter and other services

Third, we’ve given you more control over how you connect accounts, and made connecting accounts more convenient. You can still connect accounts publicly on your Google profile, but now we’ve added a new option to connect accounts privately in your Google Account. (After all, you may not want everyone to know you’re @spongebobsuperfan on Twitter.) In addition, if our algorithms find a public account that might be yours (for example, because the usernames are the same), we may invite you to connect your accounts right on the search results page and in your Google Account settings:

The new setting enables you to choose whether or not to show your connected accounts publicly on your Google profile

For an overview of Google Social Search and our new features, check out the explanatory video:



As always, you’ll only get social search results when you choose to log in to your Google Account. We’re starting to roll out the updates today on Google.com in English only and you’ll see them appear in the coming week. With these changes, we want to help you find the most relevant information possible, personalized to your interests and the people you care about. To learn more, check out our help center.

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Last October, we introduced Demo Slam based on one simple idea: nobody knows Google tech better than our users. So we asked all of you to submit tech demo videos that showcase our technology in fun ways.

Four months and many tech demos later, Demo Slam has reached people all over the world. Thanks to students, musicians, filmmakers, scientists, athletes, animators and even a toddler, demoslam.com has become a hub of creativity and technology. We’ve seen voice searches 20 feet off the ground, a living replica of Mt. Rushmore and a transcontinental Street View road race.

It’s been tons of fun, but now it’s time for Demo Slam to get serious: ladies and gentlemen, the first-ever Demo Slampionship begins today. Sixteen of Demo Slam’s finest slams will go head to head in a single elimination tournament. Each round, your votes decide who advances to final Slampionship. Voting for the first round of 16 begins today, followed by the quarter finals, semi finals and the Final Slampionship. Although there can be only one Slampion, every demo will do its part to help millions understand technology a little better.

Go to demoslam.com to check out the competition and start voting on the first round. Let the Slampionship begin!

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(Cross-posted on the Google Code Blog)

Over the past two years, we’ve made public data easier to find, explore and understand in several ways, providing unemployment figures, population statistics and world development indicators in search results, and introducing the Public Data Explorer tool. Together with our data provider partners, we’ve curated 27 datasets including more than 300 data metrics. You can now use the Public Data Explorer to visualize everything from labor productivity (OECD) to Internet speed (Ookla) to gender balance in parliaments (UNECE) to government debt levels (IMF) to population density by municipality (Statistics Catalonia), with more data being added every week.

Today, we’re opening the Public Data Explorer to your data. We’re making a new data format, the Dataset Publishing Language (DSPL), openly available, and providing an interface for anyone to upload their datasets. DSPL is an XML-based format designed from the ground up to support rich, interactive visualizations like those in the Public Data Explorer. The DSPL language and upload interface are available in Google Labs.

To upload a dataset, click on the “My Datasets” link on the left-hand side of the Public Data Explorer. Once imported, a dataset can be visualized, embedded in external websites, shared with others and published. If you’re an official provider, you can request that your datasets appear in the Public Data Explorer directory; please contact us to discuss this process.


With this new capability, we hope more datasets can come to life through Public Data Explorer visualisations and enable people to better understand the world around them and make more informed, data-driven decisions. Stay tuned for more datasets, visualization features and DSPL extensions in the future.

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(Cross-posted on the Google News Blog)

At Humboldt University in Berlin today, Eric Schmidt announced Google One Pass, a service that lets publishers set their own prices and terms for their digital content. With Google One Pass, publishers can maintain direct relationships with their customers and give readers access to digital content across websites and mobile apps.

Readers who purchase from a One Pass publisher can access their content on tablets, smartphones and websites using a single sign-on with an email and password. Importantly, the service helps publishers authenticate existing subscribers so that readers don’t have to re-subscribe in order to access their content on new devices.

With Google One Pass, publishers can customize how and when they charge for content while experimenting with different models to see what works best for them—offering subscriptions, metered access, "freemium" content or even single articles for sale from their websites or mobile apps. The service also lets publishers give existing print subscribers free (or discounted) access to digital content. We take care of the rest, including payments technology handled via Google Checkout.

Our goal is to provide an open and flexible platform that furthers our commitment to support publishers, journalism and access to quality content. Like First Click Free, Fast Flip and Living Stories, this is another initiative developed to enable publishers to promote and distribute digital content.

German publishers Axel Springer AG, Focus Online (Tomorrow Focus) and Stern.de joined Eric at Humboldt University today as some of our first Google One Pass partners. Other publishers already signed up include Media General, NouvelObs, Bonnier’s Popular Science, Prisa and Rust Communications.

Google One Pass is currently available for publishers in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the U.K. and the U.S. If you’re a publisher in one of these countries and want to learn more, please reach out to the Google One Pass team or submit your information on our website. For interested publishers in other countries, we’d love to hear from you too as we plan to expand to other countries in the coming months.

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Each year, as the Academy Awards bubble to the top of our collective consciousness, we see a major spike in search traffic related to the event. This year, on the day the nominees were announced, four of the top 10 trending search terms in the U.S. were Oscar-related.

After last year’s awards ceremony, we provided an in-depth summary of search trends that played out during the broadcast. But could search trends have predicted the winners? To make it easy to explore how the actors, directors and cinematographers are trending in search—and maybe see if that data correlates with the eventual winners—you can explore search data across all award categories on our new Oscar Search Trends website.

John Batelle once described search trends as “a massive database of desires, needs, wants and likes.” Looking at Insights for Search data, we were intrigued to find that this “database of intentions” shows consistent search patterns among Best Picture winners for the last three years. Each year, the winning film has shown an upward trend in search volume for at least four weeks, as well as highest regional interest from New York (The Hurt Locker, Slumdog Millionaire and No Country for Old Men).


Will that pattern repeat this year? If you apply the same test, this year’s most likely candidates for best picture—by search pattern—are The Social Network (trending upward for five weeks) followed by Black Swan and The King’s Speech (each trending upward for four weeks). The Fighter, another 2011 Best Picture nominee, saw an upward trend in search volume for five weeks after its release, but highest regional interest was from Massachusetts instead of New York; no film with highest regional interest in Massachusetts has won best picture since The Departed in 2007. Perhaps Boston will take it back in 2011?

We can’t say for sure what will happen this year, since searches can only reflect what people are interested in, but it’s fun to look for patterns that persist year after year. So before you make any Academy Awards-related bets with your friends this year, be sure to explore the Oscar Search Trends. Choose any award category to see how the nominees were searched over time.

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(Cross-posted on the Google.org Blog)

In an effort to foster a more open, transparent and accessible scientific dialogue, we’ve started a new effort aimed at inspiring pioneering use of technology, new media and computational thinking in the communication of science to diverse audiences. Initially, we’ll focus on communicating the science on climate change.

We’re kicking off this effort by naming 21 Google Science Communication Fellows. These fellows were elected from a pool of applicants of early to mid-career Ph.D. scientists nominated by leaders in climate change research and science-based institutions across the U.S. It was hard to choose just 21 fellows from such an impressive pool of scientists; ultimately, we chose scientists who had the strongest potential to become excellent communicators. That meant previous training in science communication; research in topics related to understanding or managing climate change; and experience experimenting with innovative approaches or technology tools for science communication. This year’s fellows are an impressive bunch:
  • Brendan Bohannan, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies and Biology, University of Oregon
  • Edward Brook, Professor, Department of Geosciences, Oregon State University
  • Julia Cole, Professor, Department of Geosciences, University of Arizona
  • Eugene Cordero, Associate Professor, Meteorology and Climate Science, San Jose University
  • Frank Davis, Professor, Landscape Ecology & Conservation Planning, University of California-Santa Barbara
  • Andrew Dessler, Professor, Atmospheric Sciences, Texas A&M University
  • Noah Diffenbaugh, Assistant Professor, Environmental Earth System Science, Stanford University
  • Simon Donner, Assistant Professor, University of British Columbia
  • Nicole Heller, Research Scientist, Climate Central
  • Brian Helmuth, Professor, Biological Sciences, University South Carolina
  • Paul Higgins, Associate Director, Policy Program, American Meteorological Society
  • Jonathan Koomey, Consulting Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University
  • David Lea, Professor, Earth Science, University of California-Santa Barbara
  • Kelly Levin, Senior Research Associate, World Resources Institute
  • David Lobell, Assistant Professor, Environmental Earth System Science, Stanford University
  • Edwin Maurer, Associate Professor, Civil Engineering, Santa Clara University
  • Susanne Moser, Research Associate, Institute of Marine Sciences, University of California-Santa Cruz
  • Matthew Nisbet, Associate Professor, School of Communication, American University
  • Rebecca Shaw, Director of Conservation, The Nature Conservancy, CA Chapter
  • Whendee Silver, Professor, Ecosystem Ecology and Biogeochemistry, University of California-Berkeley
  • Alan Townsend, Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado
At our Mountain View, Calif. headquarters in June, the fellows will participate in a workshop, which will integrate hands-on training and facilitated brainstorming on topics of technology and science communication. Following the workshop, fellows will be given the opportunity to apply for grants to put their ideas into practice. Those with the most impactful projects will be given the opportunity to join a Lindblad Expeditions & National Geographic trip to the Arctic, the Galapagos or Antarctica as a science communicator.

Congratulations to all of the fellows! And we’ll keep you posted on more ideas and tools emerging for science communication.

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(Cross-posted on the Google Chrome Blog)

We’ve been exploring different algorithms to detect content farms, which are sites with shallow or low-quality content. One of the signals we're exploring is explicit feedback from users. To that end, today we’re launching an early, experimental Chrome extension so people can block sites from their web search results. If installed, the extension also sends blocked site information to Google, and we will study the resulting feedback and explore using it as a potential ranking signal for our search results.

You can download the extension and start blocking sites now. It looks like this:


When you block a site with the extension, you won’t see results from that domain again in your Google search results. You can always revoke a blocked site at the bottom of the search results, so it's easy to undo blocks:


You can also edit your list of blocked sites by clicking on the extension's icon in the top right of the Chrome window.


This is an early test, but the extension is available in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Turkish. We hope this extension improves your search experience, and thanks in advance for participating in this experiment. If you’re a tech-savvy Chrome user, please download and try the Personal Blocklist extension today.

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(Cross-posted from the Lat Long Blog)

This Valentine’s Day, tell your friends, family or significant other that you love them with a fun message from Google Maps.


Location can be a powerful trigger of memories—from the Italian place in San Francisco where you went on your first date to the cabin you rented at Lake Tahoe with your roommates. For that reason, we thought it would be great to create a Valentine’s Day card that’s tied to a specific location. As long as there’s a place that means something special to you and the ones you love, mapping your valentine is a great way to make Valentine’s Day a little more special.


One of my favorite memories is from a family trip we took to Eilat in Israel (check out my awesome fashion sense, I’m on the far left...), so I sent my parents this card:


I hope you'll take a moment to remind the people you love of the places you've shared with them. Visit www.mapyourvalentine.com to get started.

Happy Valentine's Day from Google!

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This is part of a regular series of posts on search experience updates that runs on Fridays. Look for the label "This week in search" and subscribe to the series. - Ed.

With features like Instant, the dynamic left-hand panel of tools, voice search and Google Goggles, search is becoming more interactive all the time. You don’t just type and query and hit enter: you can speak your search query, and whether typing or speaking, you can search in a kind of conversation, with the results and search tools updating dynamically based on just a few characters. This week’s changes all continue to make Google more interactive and responsive to your intentions, whether you’re looking for a vector graphic file for a presentation, getting Google Instant results or looking for a fun distraction in the middle of the workday.

Instant satellite and terrain maps on Google results
We love the satellite and terrain views you can get in Google Earth and Maps, but shouldn’t you be able to get those views right away on the results page without having to click through to Maps and then click the “satellite” or “terrain” option? Well now, when you’re looking for these specialized map views, you’ll get them instantly on your main results page. For example, if you search for [honolulu satellite map], you’ll see the city’s lush green interior and deep blue ocean right in your search results. Click the map to jump directly to a larger view.


Example searches: [satellite map of moscow], [yosemite terrain map]

New ways to find Scalable Vector Graphic (SVG) files
Scalable Vector Graphics (SVGs) are files that describe how to draw the basic elements needed to create an image: elements like lines, circles, polygons and more complex shapes. Unlike the images typically returned by most search engines (for example, JPG, GIF and PNG), SVGs can be stretched to any size without the quality of the image suffering. This makes them ideally suited for things like clip art, maps, logos, flags and scientific diagrams. In December, we announced we were starting to return SVGs in our results; more recently, we made it possible to refine your search to exclusively return SVGs. Click “Images” in the left-hand panel, then "Advanced Search” and then select the SVG filetype. If you want to impress your friends, you can also add “filetype:svg” to any normal search, such as [graph theory filetype:svg]:


Example searches: [world map filetype:svg], [flag filetype:svg]

Chrome Instant ready for prime time
If you haven’t yet tried Instant on Chrome, now is a great time to check it out. Instant on Chrome arrived in the stable build last Thursday, which means it’s ready for prime time. Chrome brings the Instant experience to a whole new level—not just search results, but also webpages begin loading as soon as you start typing. To try it out, download the latest release and enable Instant in the “Basics” tab of Chrome’s options.


Celebrating Jules Verne’s birthday by diving into the depths
We’ve been having fun with some unique and interactive doodles lately, and this week was no exception. On Monday visitors to Google were invited to navigate the Nautilus and dive down into the depths. Pull the lever or tilt your computer (side note: who knew my laptop had an accelerometer?) and the Nautilus will follow. If you missed the doodle, you can still play with the underlying graphic in full view and HD!


It turns out you can do a lot of wild things on Google...you can talk to it and, sometimes, you can play games right on our homepage—but at the end of the day, the most important thing you can do is find the best answer to your question.

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(Cross-posted on the Google Docs Blog and the Google Photos Blog)

For many, your wedding day is one of the biggest, most momentous days of your life. The perfect dress, the right tuxedo, the proper shade of blue, the three-tier cake with chocolate fondant, and all of your closest family and friends—these are just a few of the many things you might think about for your special day. Although there’s much to consider and a lot of work to do, the payoff is great: it’s one of the happiest days of your life.

To help you plan this important day we’ve created wedding-specific templates in Google Sites, Google Docs and Picnik, and gathered tips and tricks for using these and other Google products at google.com/weddings. From wedding websites to save-the-date cards, these tools simplify wedding planning, letting you focus your time on the fun things—like tasting cakes!


We teamed up with renowned wedding planner Michelle Rago, who provided her insight and creativity to guide the designs you’ll find on this new site. Michelle also shared her experience to provide tips and advice to keep your guests comfortable and you sane.


We’re also hosting a wedding sweepstakes, so if you’re getting married in the next year you can enter for a chance to win $25,000 towards your dream wedding (see Official Rules). Plus, Michelle Rago and her team will advise the winning couple on location, flowers, food and other design elements to create a day that is uniquely their own. (Update March 29, 2011: The Google Dream Wedding Sweepstakes is closed and is no longer taking entries. Thanks for your interest.)

Visit google.com/weddings to start planning, or share the site with your favorite betrothed couple and help them on their way to wedded bliss.

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(Cross-posted on the Gmail Blog)

Has anyone you know ever lost control of an email account and inadvertently sent spam—or worse—to their friends and family? There are plenty of examples (like the classic "Mugged in London" scam) that demonstrate why it's important to take steps to help secure your activities online. Your Gmail account, your photos, your private documents—if you reuse the same password on multiple sites and one of those sites gets hacked, or your password is conned out of you directly through a phishing scam, it can be used to access some of your most closely-held information.

Most of us are used to entrusting our information to a password, but we know that some of you are looking for something stronger. As we announced to our Google Apps customers a few months ago, we've developed an advanced opt-in security feature called 2-step verification that makes your Google Account significantly more secure by helping to verify that you're the real owner of your account. Now it's time to offer the same advanced protection to all of our users.

2-step verification requires two independent factors for authentication, much like you might see on your banking website: your password, plus a code obtained using your phone. Over the next few days, you'll see a new link on your Account Settings page that looks like this:


Take your time to carefully set up 2-step verification—we expect it may take up to 15 minutes to enroll. A user-friendly set-up wizard will guide you through the process, including setting up a backup phone and creating backup codes in case you lose access to your primary phone. Once you enable 2-step verification, you'll see an extra page that prompts you for a code when you sign in to your account. After entering your password, Google will call you with the code, send you an SMS message or give you the choice to generate the code for yourself using a mobile application on your Android, BlackBerry or iPhone device. The choice is up to you. When you enter this code after correctly submitting your password we'll have a pretty good idea that the person signing in is actually you.


It's an extra step, but it's one that significantly improves the security of your Google Account because it requires the powerful combination of both something you know—your username and password—and something that only you should have—your phone. A hacker would need access to both of these factors to gain access to your account. If you like, you can always choose a "Remember verification for this computer for 30 days" option, and you won't need to re-enter a code for another 30 days. You can also set up one-time application-specific passwords to sign in to your account from non-browser based applications that are designed to only ask for a password, and cannot prompt for the code.

To learn more about 2-step verification and get started, visit our Help Center. And for more about staying safe online, see our ongoing security blog series or visit http://www.staysafeonline.org/. Be safe!

Update Dec 7, 2011: Updated the screenshots in this post.

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Since we introduced Boutiques.com last November, we’ve been busy developing new features that we’re proud to unveil as New York Fashion Week hits the runways.

More of the boutiques you love
We’re welcoming hundreds of thousands of stunning new boutiques, including those from designers Helmut Lang, Michael Kors, Billy Reid and Thakoon.

Trend data to excite designers and fashion enthusiasts alike
Over the past few months, we’ve watched usage of Boutiques soar. Shoppers aren’t just creating their own customized boutiques, they’re enthusiastically taking our Stylyzer Quiz and sharing what they “love” and “hate” about products while browsing. As a result, we’ve gained a unique, aggregate view into the latest fashion trends—a reflection of what shoppers think and feel about the colors, silhouettes, patterns and prices of individual products from across the web.

So today we’re unveiling Designer Analytics, a tool that enables our design partners to benefit from this collective knowledge—giving them insight into how their products are searched, shopped and loved. With easy-to-understand data visualizations, Designer Analytics shows what colors, shapes and patterns are most loved and hated broadly (in categories such as shoes, dresses and handbags) and even down to how specific items are performing. Designers can also see how their stats compare to brands like them. Designer Analytics is available when logged in, and looks like this:


We’re also launching a public version called Trend Analytics that gives curious fashionistas a view into the latest, site-wide fashion trends. Using aggregate data from both Boutiques.com and Google Search, it shows the hottest colors of the season, the most-loved products and the must-have trends.



New boutique features to help you express your style
We’re adding some enhanced features for boutiques, including a photo gallery and video upload (celebrity, designers, blogger and featured boutiques only) to give more opportunities for people to express who they are and share their unique point of view.


A Fashion Week giveaway game to put your fashion acumen to the test
We’re also kicking off a fashion trivia giveaway game, called Sartorial Pursuit, which you can play anywhere via SMS/Twitter. Each hour during fashion week, you’ll find a new multiple-choice trivia question that ties into our trend analytics and features designers and products on the site. Follow the game on our Twitter account @BoutiquesStyle to answer quiz questions from home for a chance to win stylish Fashion Week prizes.

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This post is the first in our series profiling entrepreneurial Googlers working on products across the company and around the world. Here, you’ll get an in-depth look at how one of our most successful mobile advertising features was launched by one and a half engineers in a matter of months. -Ed.

I’ll always remember my first cell phone—a big, black brick that was really only good for making calls. While technology certainly has advanced since then, I still appreciate the speed of connecting to people and businesses instantly over the phone, something that I found harder and harder to do when I searched, for example, for the number of a restaurant to make a reservation.

So in June of 2009, a few engineers and I pooled our 20% time and worked to develop a prototype of what would eventually become Click-to-Call for smartphones, an ad unit that makes it easier for people to connect to a business by phone, rather than through a website.


Building the feature was the easy part; essentially, we developed an ad extension that allows advertisers to include a phone or location in their campaigns. However, it was launching it to advertisers that posed the biggest challenge.

With new products like Click-to-Call, we often choose to launch in beta, and incrementally roll out the features to a small subset of users, usually beginning at a 1% test and increasing from there. With Click-to-Call, we’d developed a mobile feature that we wanted to launch as soon as possible, but since mobile advertising was much smaller at that point—then with only about one-sixth as many search queries we get today—we calculated that it would take nearly three years to roll out to 10% and around 10 years to actually launch it. At that rate, the feature would likely become antiquated long before it ever officially launched.

So I decided not to follow the usual process and took a risk, choosing to launch to 50% of Google’s mobile advertisers within the first week. In my view, there was simply no other way to collect enough feedback in a short period of time so that we could quickly iterate based on feedback. Thousands of advertisers—an unprecedented amount for a brand-new feature—were on board to try it out, and with a few engineers and some pretty massive spreadsheets, we started to see real results. Within a month, we had the magical ingredient—momentum—and from there we were collecting enough feedback to be on track to bring the feature to all advertisers in a matter of months.


This is one of the reasons I work at Google. Google gives me freedom to experiment, ownership of my ideas, and amazing resources and support. We built Click-to-Call in June 2009, began testing it in July, and had it up and running for all advertisers in January 2010. One year later, Click-to-Call ads on both search and the Google Display Network are generating millions of calls every month on mobile phones and driving strong performance for advertisers.

If you’re interested in exploring some of the most significant trends in mobile, you can watch our Think Mobile livestream this Thursday, February 10 at 1:05pm EST, where we’ll discuss why it’s “not too late for businesses to still be early” in this space.