Thursday, May 24, 2007

Something to :) about

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Something to :) about

Tired of expressing emotions to your friends with words? Exhausted by the two and sometimes three keys you have to press to enter an emoticon? The Google Talk Gadget has got your back. Today we're introducing an emoticon menu to put those :D and :-( feelings right at your fingertips. We've also heard you asking for a wider emoticon selection, so we added some new choices. You can choose from three different styles of emoticons. Maybe you like things simple and classic . Maybe you like them colorful and fun . Or maybe you're a square . Everybody can be themselves with the Google Talk Gadget, and you'll find it right here.

Jake Knapp
User Interface Designer


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Why we attend conferences

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Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Why we attend conferences

I've always loved traveling. Okay, not the flights so much, especially given that I typically travel coach (yes, even for work trips). But getting to learn interesting cultural tidbits, enjoy regional cuisines, and meet new people... it all definitely makes my life richer. Even the little things -- linguistic differences ("How are you going?" in Sydney) and just walking around (pass on the left in the UK!) -- can be fascinating.

So I shouldn't be surprised when my friends tease me about my traveling as a representative of Google's Search Quality team: "Must be really rough!" However, being an active part of conferences actually isn't all glamour and relaxation.

Here's a glimpse of the reality:

  • Sometimes (though thankfully rarely) I get metaphorically used as a human punching bag.
  • There's no pause button on my corp and personal e-mail accounts. Days at conferences = LOTS of email to catch up on!
  • And on a related note, what's with the no-wifi nonsense?! I have Verizon broadband [sic] for my laptop now, but still... ack!
  • Attending conferences requires an enormous amount of extra time overall. I stubbornly seem to create presentations fresh for each conference, I collaborate with other Googler speakers on their presentations (and vice versa), and I end up with a ton of additional (valuable but time-intense) work from info I glean at the conferences. Based on this and the e-mail reason noted above, I've noticed that each day of conference = five days of combined prep + analysis + implementation.

But here's why I still really like going to conferences:

  • I learn a bunch from other speakers. When folks from other search engines or various experts speak, I often think -- hey, that's useful information, or that's a particularly thoughtful way of explaining stuff. I'm still pretty new to the conference-speaking circuit, so every bit I soak up helps!
  • SEO and webmaster folks are typically rather fun people. :-)
  • Though I don't always make time for this, it's certainly neat getting to spend some time exploring various cities. Okay, so San Jose doesn't count (it's right next to Google), but I can't wait to check out Toronto (and, likely via a few personal days beforehand, Montreal).
  • I learn a great deal from webmasters I chat with. I'm able to go back to my colleagues here and say - hey, this is how our algorithm changes or our guidelines are being perceived, these are challenges we didn't anticipate from our tools, and so on. And it's not just about search; I've gotten thoughtful earfuls about Gmail, Calendar, and practically everything else about Google, and I do my best to relay this feedback to my colleagues in other departments.
  • Lastly, seeing someone in person provides a very helpful new perspective on what they're meaning to communicate online. It's easy to misread text on a page, especially when there's no immediate opportunity to follow up with questions. But in person, issues get cleared up on both sides, and that's good for everyone.

Thankfully, it's not just me who's presenting to and chatting with webmasters from Google -- I'd be exhausted, and you'd get quite bored of me. As you can see from the list below, our conference-going is genuinely a team effort: Through this month and June, you'll find Google Search Quality and Webmaster Central folks present at these conferences:

Search Engine Strategies - Xiamen, China - May 25, 26-30
  • Jianfei Zhu (Senior Software Engineer): Get a Lesson from Spamming

Search Engine Strategies - Milan, Italy - May 29-30
  • Brian White (Technical Program Manager)
  • Luisella Mazza (Search Quality Analyst)
  • Stefano Bezze (Search Quality Associate)

American Marketing Association Hot Topics Series - New York, NY - May 25
  • Maile Ohye (Senior Developer Support Engineer): Search Engine Marketing

Google Developer Day - San Jose, CA (was originally set for Mountain View) - May 31
  • Jonathan Simon (Webmaster Trends Analyst)
  • Maile Ohye (Senior Developer Support Engineer)

Search Marketing Expo Advanced - Seattle, WA - June 4-5
  • Matt Cutts (Software Engineer): You&A;, Personalized Search and Penalty Box
  • Vanessa Fox (Product Manager, Webmaster Central): Duplicate Content

Search Engine Strategies - Toronto, Canada - June 12-13
  • Adam Lasnik: Search Engine Friendly Design and The Worst SEO Myths, Don'ts, and Scams

Searchnomics - Santa Clara, CA - June 27
  • Shashi Thakur (Software Engineer): Search Engine Friendly Design
  • Greg Grothaus (Software Engineer): Search & Dynamic Web Sites and SEO for Web 2.0

* * *

We look forward to seeing many of you in person! But even if you can't or don't want to go to one of the conferences we attend, we welcome your questions, comments, or even just a friendly introduction in our Webmaster Help Group.

Take care, and enjoy your summer, wherever your online or offline travels may take you!


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Learn how to add an image to your blog's header

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Blogger Buzz: Learn how to add an image to your blog's header

Our friend Ryanne has been asking us for an easy way to add an image to her blog's header for a few months now. When we added the feature a few weeks back, she was excited enough to create a screencast to teach everyone how to do it:

Also, a plug: Blogger is sponsoring Pixelodeon, a vlogging conference Ryanne is co-organizing, happening June 9th and 10th in Los Angeles, CA. A few of us from Blogger will be attending - go there!


Monday, May 21, 2007

Come to Vermont for an Online Marketing Boot Camp.

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Come to Vermont for an Online Marketing Boot Camp.

EpikOne, a Google Analytics Authorized Consultant, and Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont have teamed up to offer an Online Marketing Boot Camp. We'll be there too, and together we will conduct seminars and training sessions on how to use Google products to optimize online marketing strategies. Attendees will learn about social media and multivariate testing, as well as configuration, implementation, and reporting techniques in Google Analytics, Website Optimizer, Google AdWords and Blogger.

This four-day Boot Camp will be held from June 11-14. Instructors include Kristoffer Ewald, Managing Partner of online consultancy The Milk, (a Google Analytics Authorized Consultant), and EpikOne staff members. Daniel Schutzsmith, Editor and Publisher of Graphic Define Magazine will be leading the social media and online visibility sessions. You'll also meet Rachel Meyers from the NYC Google Analytics team.

There will also be a special Web Analytics Wednesday reception hosted by the Web Analytics Association. We hope you join us.


Test Blogger and We’ll Love You and Pay You

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Blogger Buzz: Test Blogger and We'll Love You and Pay You

You can help us out and make money just by using Blogger! From time to time at Blogger we run usability studies to make sure that we're on the right track with all the new features we're working on.

If playing with Blogger for an hour or so and making up to $100 sounds like something you'd like to do, please sign up here. Have more questions? Read the FAQ. You don't even have to live near Mountain View, CA to participate.


Introducing Google's online security efforts

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Google Online Security Blog: Introducing Google's online security efforts

Online security is an important topic for Google, our users, and anyone who uses the Internet. The related issues are complex and dynamic and we've been looking for a way to foster discussion on the topic and keep users informed. Thus, we've started this blog where we hope to periodically provide updates on recent trends, interesting findings, and efforts related to online security. Among the issues we'll tackle is malware, which is the subject of our inaugural post.

Malware -- surreptitious software capable of stealing sensitive information from your computer -- is increasingly spreading over the web. Visiting a compromised web server with a vulnerable browser or plugins can result in your system being infected with a whole variety of malware without any interaction on your part. Software installations that leverage exploits are termed "drive-by downloads". To protect Google's users from this threat, we started an anti-malware effort about a year ago. As a result, we can warn you in our search results if we know of a site to be harmful and even prevent exploits from loading with Google Desktop Search.

Unfortunately, the scope of the problem has recently been somewhat misreported to suggest that one in 10 websites are potentially malicious. To clarify, a sample-based analysis puts the fraction of malicious pages at roughly 0.1%. The analysis described in our paper covers billions of URLs. Using targeted feature extraction and classification, we select a subset of URLs believed to be suspicious for in-depth investigation. So far, we have investigated about 12 million suspicious URLs and found about 1 million that engage in drive-by downloads. In most cases, the web sites that infect your system with malware are not intentionally doing so and are often unaware that their web servers have been compromised.

To get a better understanding about the geographic distribution of sites engaging in drive-by downloads, we analyzed the location of compromised web sites and the location of malware distribution hosts. At the moment, the majority of malware activity seems to happen in China, the U.S., Germany and Russia (see below):

Location of compromised web sites. These are often sites that are benign in nature but have been compromised and have become dangerous for users to visit.

Location of malware distribution servers. These are servers that are used by malware authors to distribute their payload. Very often the compromised sites are modified to include content from these servers. The color coding works as follows: Green means that we did not find anything unsual in that country, yellow means low activity, orange medium activity and red high activity.

Guidelines on safe browsing

First and foremost, enable automatic updates for your operating system as well your browsers, browser plugins and other applications you are using. Automatic updates ensure that your computer receives the latest security patches as they are published. We also recommend that you run an anti-virus engine that checks network traffic and files on your computer for known malware and abnormal behavior. If you want to be really sure that your system does not become permanently compromised, you might even want to run your browser in a virtual machine, which you can revert to a clean snapshot after every browsing session.

Webmasters can learn more about cleaning, and most importantly, keeping their sites secure at's Tips for Cleaning and Securing a Website.


Talking with TypePad

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Talking with TypePad

I was excited when the Google Talk Gadget launched in March, since it meant there was one more way to chat with your buddies on the Web -- it let you access Google Talk as a gadget on iGoogle or add it to your own Web page. Today we're pleased that TypePad has syndicated the Google Talk Gadget to their Widget Gallery, and we're looking forward to staying connected with our fellow bloggers. Check it out here: http://www.sixapart.comtypepad/widgets/chat/google-talk.html

Mary Himinkool
New Business Development