Friday, December 7, 2007

[G] Google's (and parents') role in keeping kids safe online

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Google Public Policy Blog: Google's (and parents') role in keeping kids safe online



(Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog)

We know that technologies like the "v-chip" can be used to keep kids from seeing inappropriate content on TV. And while technology has an important role to play in protecting kids online, it's as important that parents implant a symbolic "v-chip" in their children's minds to guide them when it comes to deciding what online content is and is not appropriate.

That was one of the observations I shared this week at the Family Online Safety Institute's conference in Washington, D.C. The Internet provides an amazing opportunity for young people to express themselves creatively and access immense quantities of useful information. Kids are using geospatial, mobile and social networking technologies, for example, to learn in new, interactive ways. The Internet also provides unparalleled opportunities for free expression, enabling kids and adults alike to deliver tremendous benefit to society by voicing sometimes unpopular, inconvenient, or controversial opinions.

At the same time, there is some online content and activity that is unsuitable for younger users. Google is dedicated to supporting parents' efforts to educate and protect their children when they go online. We've invested in developing family safety tools that empower parents to limit what online content their children can discover. Our SafeSearch filter, which users can adjust to block explicit content from their search results, is an example of this type of technology.

On YouTube, where we host user-generated content, we aim to offer a community for free expression that is suitable for teens and protects them from exploitation. Our work to keep YouTube safe for teens includes clear policies about what is and is not acceptable on the site; robust mechanisms to enforce these policies, such as easy tools for users to police the content by flagging inappropriate videos; innovative product features that enable safe behavior; and YouTube safety tips.

We've also partnered with child safety organizations, including CommonSense Media, i-Safe, iKeepSafe, NetFamilyNews, and, of course, the Family Online Safety Institute to increase awareness about online child safety. In addition, we cooperate with law enforcement and industry partners to combat child exploitation and help minimize the uploading of illegal content, offering training and technical assistance to law enforcement officials and providing groups like the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children with technology tools to help them be more effective in their work.

Keeping children safe on the Web is the shared responsibility of parents and families, educators, industry, and government. We have a shared responsibility to help teach children the media literacy skills they need to become savvy online and offline information consumers and, working together, we believe this goal is attainable.

URL: http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2007/12/googles-and-parents-role-in-keeping.html

[G] Phone verification fixed

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Inside AdSense: Phone verification fixed

Our engineers have now resolved the phone verification issue we reported on Tuesday. If your account is still on a phone verification hold, please feel free to retry the verification process. For instructions on removing any holds on your account, visit your Payment History page and look for a 'Required Actions' box at the top of the page.

As always, we appreciate your patience.


URL: http://adsense.blogspot.com/2007/12/phone-verification-fixed.html

[G] You sleigh me!

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Google LatLong: You sleigh me!












I've got a quick Santa fix for those of you who are eagerly counting down the days till NORAD tracks Santa's flight.

I spent some time modeling jolly ole St. Nick and his reindeer entourage -- and now all we need is a sleigh! I encourage everyone to take a stab at modeling one and uploading it to the 3D Warehouse. I've created a collection in there for yuletide modelers to show off their best work.

Check out my latest post on the SketchUp blog for more info. Ho-ho-hope to see your submissions soon!

URL: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2007/12/you-sleigh-me.html

[G] Area man finds onion planted in earth

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Google LatLong: Area man finds onion planted in earth



The Onion, one of our favorite news-spoofers, has made available a fantastic layer for Google Earth in tandem with Our Dumb World: Atlas of The Planet Earth, a hilarious new book parodying (you guessed it!) a world atlas. Placemarks across the globe pinpoint lots and lots of geographic features and a whole bunch of important historic sites (read: jokes and more jokes).

The Onion has also put together an awesome Google Maps mashup with even more factoids about your favorite lands. Check it out often to see the latest featured country of the week.

URL: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2007/12/area-man-finds-onion-planted-in-earth.html

[G] Quantity and quality

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Google News Blog: Quantity and quality



The goal of Google News has always been to offer as many perspectives on a story as possible to help you better understand current events. That's why we crawl thousands of sources from around the world. We try to help you find stories in every language, in every country, from every newspaper and for every story. But Google News isn't just about including every story; it's about helping you find the stories that matter most to you. The way we do this is with our news ranking algorithms, which are designed to enable you to make sense of all this information by showing you the most relevant news first.

We are constantly improving our algorithms to bring you a better organized, more relevant selection of the day's news. This is an ongoing process, but in the past few months we have been working on a number of improvements that we hope bring us closer to this goal. While many of these aren't new features that you might notice right away, we hope they'll provide a better experience.

One example we recently released is a new algorithm to help determine the most recent update to a story. In other words, it lets us find something new that's been added to a breaking story. So instead of just seeing the most recent publishing activity for a breaking story, we highlight the sources which brought you the information in the first place. Once there's new information from another source, we update our results so you get any new developments to the story.

Another signal we've added helps us recognize the importance of local context in a story. In order to provide a local angle to global events, we have started actively promoting high quality local reporting in addition to coverage from foreign sources. This means we try to find sources at the scene of a story who are doing original reporting. It may be a national or international story with many sources from around the world reporting on it, but often times one of the best sources of information on a story are those closest to it.

There are quite a few other exciting quality initiatives we are working on, but we don't want to take away all the suspense! So keep reading Google News and sending us your ever-helpful feedback on these changes. Namaste!

URL: http://googlenewsblog.blogspot.com/2007/12/quantity-and-quality.html

[G] Voices without borders

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Official Google Blog: Voices without borders



Our lives are a fabric of overlapping stories: stories that are entirely unique, stories that are richly specific, stories that define who we are, where we have come from, what we believe in. And while each story is ultimately personal, we find across them the common themes of love and loss, adversity and triumph. Listening to others' stories, we can better appreciate our shared humanity, and recognize that the stories and lives of everyone, everywhere matter.

In the U.S., the StoryCorps effort seeks to capture, preserve, and share the stories of ordinary people. These can be heard on Friday mornings on National Public Radio's "Morning Edition." Earlier this year, a number of interested Googlers met with Dave Isay, founder of StoryCorps, and also with leaders of One Laptop per Child (OLPC) and UNICEF. We realized that collectively, we had a unique and very real opportunity to leverage our respective strengths to take this idea global and to build together an ability to preserve and share online millions of personal stories from around the world.

With the good efforts of many people from each of the partners, we brought this inspiration to fruition over the last six months, and are excited to launch the Our Stories project and the www.ourstories.org site today. From the Google side, this grows out of our passion and commitment to make the experience and wisdom of these personal stories universally accessible to users around the world.

One Laptop per Child (www.laptop.org) is a heroic effort to help bring laptops to children in developing countries around the globe. (Google is a founding supporter of OLPC.) The distribution of OLPC laptops provides us with a platform to help preserve and extend the histories and identities of these traditional cultures. Children receive training on the Our Stories activity on the laptops, and record in their native languages the stories of their elders, their family members, and friends. These stories are then uploaded and shared through the website, where they can be found on a Google Map.

For this project, UNICEF's in-country communications teams are working with the schools using OLPC laptops, and also with children using other recording devices, computers, and mobile phones to preserve and share stories online. An enthusiastic team of Google volunteers, including me, developed the laptop application, the interview guides based on the work of StoryCorps, and the website.

In the coming years, we hope to capture and share millions of stories, which we believe will help to preserve a truly global, multi-lingual history of humanity in the 21st century. We also hope that, in some small measure, the ability to listen to the voices of others, to hear first hand about their hopes and challenges, contributes to a better understanding of our shared humanity across the many lines which often divide us.

URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/12/voices-without-borders.html

[G] Google's (and parents') role in keeping kids safe online

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Official Google Blog: Google's (and parents') role in keeping kids safe online



We know that technologies like the "v-chip" can be used to keep kids from seeing inappropriate content on TV. And while technology has an important role to play in protecting kids online, it's as important that parents implant a symbolic "v-chip" in their children's minds to guide them when it comes to deciding what online content is and is not appropriate.

That was one of the observations I shared this week at the Family Online Safety Institute's conference in Washington, D.C. The Internet provides an amazing opportunity for young people to express themselves creatively and access immense quantities of useful information. Kids are using geospatial, mobile and social networking technologies, for example, to learn in new, interactive ways. The Internet also provides unparalleled opportunities for free expression, enabling kids and adults alike to deliver tremendous benefit to society by voicing sometimes unpopular, inconvenient, or controversial opinions.

At the same time, there is some online content and activity that is unsuitable for younger users. Google is dedicated to supporting parents' efforts to educate and protect their children when they go online. We've invested in developing family safety tools that empower parents to limit what online content their children can discover. Our SafeSearch filter, which users can adjust to block explicit content from their search results, is an example of this type of technology.

On YouTube, where we host user-generated content, we aim to offer a community for free expression that is suitable for children and protects them from exploitation. Our work to keep YouTube safe for children includes clear policies about what is and is not acceptable on the site; robust mechanisms to enforce these policies, such as easy tools for users to police the content by flagging inappropriate videos; innovative product features that enable safe behavior; and YouTube safety tips.

We've also partnered with child safety organizations, including CommonSense Media, i-Safe, iKeepSafe, NetFamilyNews, and, of course, the Family Online Safety Institute to increase awareness about online child safety. In addition, we cooperate with law enforcement and industry partners to combat child exploitation and help minimize the uploading of illegal content, offering training and technical assistance to law enforcement officials and providing groups like the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children with technology tools to help them be more effective in their work.

Keeping children safe on the Web is the shared responsibility of parents and families, educators, industry, and government. We have a shared responsibility to help teach children the media literacy skills they need to become savvy online and offline information consumers and, working together, we believe this goal is attainable.

URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/12/googles-and-parents-role-in-keeping.html

Thursday, December 6, 2007

[G] Twice the Sitelinks

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Official Google Blog: Twice the Sitelinks



During your searches you've most likely noticed Sitelinks, the set of links below some search results that lets you jump directly to useful pages deeper in the site. They've been so popular that we've decided to give you more: our algorithms have been working overtime and we've recently started showing up to eight Sitelinks per site instead of just four. These extra links let you quickly access even more areas of the top site, and all eight sitelinks together give a good overview of a site's content.

Previously:


And now:
We've also been tweaking things here and there so that Sitelinks will appear for many more websites, and with more descriptive names. These improvements should help get you to the specific page you're looking for even more quickly.

URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/12/twice-sitelinks.html

[G] Meet mobile publisher Mikle

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Inside AdSense: Meet mobile publisher Mikle

In September, we introduced AdSense for mobile content to provide a simple solution for increasing revenue from your mobile sites. We recently interviewed Jaehong Lee from Japanese mobile site Mikle to find out more about his experience with using AdSense for mobile content.

Currently, Mikle's bulletin boards attract over a million unique visitors each month. With user-generated content ranging from entertainment to nutrition, Jaehong had been looking for a manageable way to monetize Mikle's mobile pages. He found his answer when he began using AdSense for mobile content this year.

Jaehong highlights the performance and convenience of AdSense for mobile content, stating that "the performance of AdSense has been way better than our expectations. Moreover, the features for managing ad performance are easier and more convenient than other ads services. It saves a lot of effort for us in managing and monitoring ads."

With features such as editorial review and the Competitive Ad Filter, AdSense for mobile content has saved Mikle substantial time. Jaehong explains, "We hire people to check all messages and comments posted on our site. The cost of this work was significant... AdSense for mobile content's great performance lets us be free of a lot of work from managing ad performance. We now have firm profitability and can concentrate our resources on the efforts of service development and operation improvements."

To learn more about AdSense for mobile content, please visit our new landing page.


URL: http://adsense.blogspot.com/2007/12/meet-mobile-publisher-mikle.html

[G] New options and a new look for location targeting

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Inside AdWords: New options and a new look for location targeting

As you might already know, AdWords offers a feature called location targeting that lets you specify where in the world you want Google to show your ads. You can target countries, cities, regions, or any other geographic area you'd like.

If you use the AdWords Standard Edition, you'll notice a new version of location targeting. We've added a new interactive map so you can see all the locations you've selected. We've also added more flexible targeting options that cater to your unique advertising needs. For example, let's say you run an online store, and you ship to all of the United States except Hawaii and Alaska. With these new targeting options, you can target your campaign to the U.S. and exclude those two states. Or, you might run campaigns that are relevant to markets across the United States and a few cities in Europe -- now you can target all of those locations in one single campaign.

If you'd like to learn more about the new location targeting features, please visit the location targeting section of our help center.


URL: http://adwords.blogspot.com/2007/12/new-options-and-new-look-for-location.html

[G] Flooding in Washington State

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Google LatLong: Flooding in Washington State



I used to live in Seattle, and I have a lot of friends around there, so all the recent flooding really hits home. Like most people, the first thing I wanted to know was whether my friends were safe and their homes were still intact. I found some great user-created maps that offer more context around what is actually happening on the ground than a few isolated photos or videos from news stories can provide:

December 2007 Flooding shows flooding in Snohomish and Island counties.




Storm reader reports was produced by the Seattle Times from reader reports.




Kitsap/Mason Road Closures shows roads that have been washed out.


URL: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2007/12/flooding-in-washington-state.html

[G] Blogging from Bali on climate change

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Google Public Policy Blog: Blogging from Bali on climate change



Bali may be best known for its Hindu temples and hot springs, but for the next two weeks the Indonesian island is playing host to a United Nations conference on climate change. Delegates from 190 nations are congregating to negotiate a new pact to succeed the Kyoto Protocol (which is due to expire in 2012).

Climate change is one of the three major priorities of Google.org, Google's philanthropic arm, and several members of the Google.org climate team will be in Bali this week. They're sharing some of their observations on the Google.org Blog -- check it out.

URL: http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2007/12/blogging-from-bali-on-climate-change.html

[G] Using ALT attributes smartly

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Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Using ALT attributes smartly



Here's the second of our video blog posts. Matt Cutts, the head of Google's webspam team, provides some useful tips on how to optimize the images you include on your site, and how simply providing useful, accurate information in your ALT attributes can make your photos and pictures more discoverable on the web. Ms Emmy Cutts also makes an appearance.



Like videos? Hate them? Have a great idea we should cover? Let us know what you think in our Webmaster Help Group.

URL: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2007/12/using-alt-attributes-smartly.html

[G] Fixing common photography problems

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Google Photos Blog: Fixing common photography problems



One of the best things about digital photography is that it's cheap and easy to learn from your mistakes. With a high-capacity memory card, you can shoot photos for days on end, and big LCD screens make it easy to review snapshots as you go. But all the photography practice in the world doesn't guarantee you a great picture every time. After many years of photography under my belt, I still tend to misfire on a few shots, and sadly, don't always get the opportunity to try again. Capturing the right scene remains one of the most important things you can do as a photographer. If you manage that, a tool like Picasa can help recover 'problem photos.' Here I'll show you a few techniques for fixing some of the most regular problems digital photographers encounter.
Problem #1 -- Too dark

If you shoot a lot of photographs, you've probably seen this. The electronics inside digital cameras work hard to find the right average tone for a photo. Sometimes, though, they miss the mark.
Here's a typical example of a dark picture that wasn't caused by a lack of lighting, but rather by having too much white and light colors in a photograph -- something that can throw digital cameras for a loop. The background wall in this photo was a bright whiteboard with colorful sticky notes. The camera's processor returned colors that look washed out and a background that's a dull shade of gray. Without going into too much technical detail, finding a dull and resolutely 'average' shade of gray for the picture is exactly what the camera processor is aiming to do... but that's not what we really want, in a case like this.

I found that clicking the 'I'm Feeling Lucky' button, which automatically adjusts a number of settings, corrected the problem nicely. 'I'm feeling lucky' won't always work, but it's generally a good place to start. You'll notice how effective the procedure was in the photo below:
Problem Photo #2 -- Dark And Not Straight
The next photo we're going to cover actually has two big problems. And too bad for me, 'I'm Feeling Lucky' isn't quite lucky enough this time. For starters, this photo is too dark. It would be nice if we could pull out more details of the tree and the scooter from the dark parts of the photograph. And not to mention, the photo isn't quite straight. That's not uncommon -- it's hard to spend the time to make sure every photo is perfectly horizontal, and a lot of scenic photographs wind up marred by sloping horizons.
The 'Straighten' and 'Fill Light' buttons are just what we need in this case. When you click on the 'Straighten' button, a series of grid lines appear on the screen, which you can use to help you know when straight lines in the photograph are properly horizontal. Drag the slider at the bottom until everything lines up, then click 'Apply.' Looks like we just fixed our leaning tower of Subway!
Next, we need to brighten up the photo a little bit. You can do this with the 'Fill Light' slider on the left side of the screen. Drag it to the right until you feel that the photo is bright enough.

Problem #3 -- a flat-looking photo
Flat-looking photos come up for a number of reasons. Often, you'll find that areas with weak lighting cause a photograph to lose color and contrast. If you're shooting in the shade, you may even find that your photographs take on a bluish tone. Here's an example photo that came from an alley without a lot of sunlight.
Fixing this photo requires clicking on the 'Tuning' tab, which is where Picasa's power tools live. Here you can selectively darken shadows and lighten the highlights, both of which we'll need to tweak in order to save this photograph. Additionally, the color is a little bit gray and should be made 'warmer' (meaning a bit more yellow). To fix all these issues, we'll use the 'Highlights,' 'Shadows,' and 'Color Temperature' sliders. Look at the position of the sliders below -- I brought the highlights up a little bit, and darkened the shadows significantly. This brings out the contrast between the light/colorful wall and the dark restaurant below. It also does a nice job of making the white car look white. Bringing up the "Color Temperature" added a nice bit of punch, as well. You can see that the green plants are more vivid and the wall colors look more lively.




It may not be as simple as pressing the 'I'm feeling lucky' button, but the five tools in the 'Tuning' tab can work wonders. All you really need is a careful eye, and a willingness to experiment, and you'll be surprised at what you can do.




URL: http://googlephotos.blogspot.com/2007/12/fixing-common-photography-problems.html

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

[G] December Updates in Google Earth

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Google LatLong: December Updates in Google Earth



Here's good news for the international folks: we've just added roads and business listings in a number of countries. We've launched roads for South Africa and Poland, and we've added business listings in six new countries -- Finland, Norway, Denmark, Austria, Sweden and Switzerland. Our Transit layer has also been enhanced with new colors and icons. If you're in one of those countries, launch Google Earth and check out the updates.

Roads in South Africa:



and roads in Poland:



An example of a business listing in Switzerland:



Transit's new look:


URL: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2007/12/december-updates-in-google-earth.html

[G] Google.com gets better on your iPhone

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Official Google Mac Blog: Google.com gets better on your iPhone



If you have an iPhone, be sure to visit google.com today. We've launched a new iPhone application that gives you single-screen access to a bunch of Google services, including search, Gmail, Calendar, Reader, and more. Check it out!

URL: http://googlemac.blogspot.com/2007/12/googlecom-gets-better-on-your-iphone.html

[G] Google Content Network Tips: Part 3 – Optimizing your keywords for the content network

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Inside AdWords: Google Content Network Tips: Part 3 – Optimizing your keywords for the content network

In this third post of our content network series, we would like to share some content optimization tips for your keywords and ad text. In a future post, we will write more about other tips.

Contextual targeting on the content network happens at the ad group level, not at the keyword level. That means all the keywords in an ad group, along with the ad text, are evaluated when Google is deciding whether to show your ad on a specific content page. In other words, it's important for all the keywords in an ad group to belong to a common theme.

We recommend keeping separate campaigns for advertising on content and search. Please keep in mind that these tips below are specific to contexual targeting and advertising on the content network and may be different from your search network strategies.
  • Create a manageable, targeted keyword list.
    Advertisers have found most success on the content network with ad groups of around 15 to 30 keywords.

  • Use tightly themed ad groups.
    For contextual targeting, we look for pages that match most of the keywords in your ad group. For example, if your ad group has a number of keywords about lilies and tulips, we try to find pages about these two topics together. If you have an ad group with diverse keywords on different themes, it may decrease the number of pages on which your ad is likely to appear. When picking keywords, imagine what keywords would likely appear on the pages that you are trying to target, and create tightly themed ad groups around those keywords.

  • Use duplicate keywords for appropriate ad groups.
    To continue the previous example, let's say you were creating a campaign for flowers and had ad groups for lilies, roses and tulips. Unlike search, we would recommend that the general keyword flowers be included in all three ad groups to help establish a floral theme.

  • Use ad group level URLs instead of keyword level URLs.
    Because no one particular keyword is used to trigger your ads on the content network, keyword level URLs are not relevant. We recommend using ad group level URLs instead.

  • Measure content performance at the ad group level.
    We've found that measuring your performance on the content network at the ad group level offers a better gauge of what strategies work best.

  • Build a comprehensive negative keyword list.
    The more negative keywords you include on a particular topic, the less likely your ad is to appear on pages that match that topic. If a page is predominately about your negative keywords, while partially about your positive keywords, our system is not likely to show you on that page. If a page is principally about your positive keywords, but mentions a few negative keywords, then your ad may still appear on this page. We recommend that you include multiple negative keywords on topics you would like to avoid. If you sold camera film and wanted to reduce the likelihood of your ad showing on movie-related pages, you should include multiple negative keywords like -movie, -movies, as well as synonyms like -cinema, -cinemas.
We hope you found these tips useful. As always, we recommend that you track performance of your content network ads using Placement Performance reports and set up conversion tracking or use Google Analytics. And please let us know what content network topics you would like to read about in this blog.


URL: http://adwords.blogspot.com/2007/12/google-content-network-tips-part-3.html

[G] And the winner is...

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Inside AdSense: And the winner is...

Recently, we launched the AdSense Story Contest and asked publishers like you to send in video of your experiences with AdSense. We were thrilled by the enthusiasm and creativity you put into these videos. Although we can only award one winner, we'll be sharing some of our favorite submissions with you over the next few weeks.

And now, the moment you've been waiting for...

Congratulations to Don Vandervort from Hometips.com for his winning video submission! Before we show you his video, here's a little bit of background about Don and HomeTips.

Interestingly enough, HomeTips.com started out in a backyard clubhouse. Don converted the bottom floor of his sons' two-story treehouse into a small office, and launched HomeTips from that office in 1997 as an online portfolio to promote his books. In 2003, Don heard about the Google AdSense program and thought it might be helpful in generating revenue for HomeTips.

During the first week, Don remembers that AdSense revenue paid for coffee; in the second week, it paid for lunches. Now, AdSense revenue pays for all salaries, overhead, and business development. "Solid content is the secret to developing a following," says Don. "If you write expert content with your visitor's needs in mind, the rest will follow." We'll let Don tell you more about his site and his story:



You can also read more about Don's story on our Case Studies page.

Thanks again to everyone who participated, and stay tuned for other great AdSense stories in the coming weeks.


URL: http://adsense.blogspot.com/2007/12/and-winner-is.html

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

[G] A few payments announcements

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Inside AdSense: A few payments announcements

We'd like to notify you about two issues related to November checks and phone verification.

November checks
If you were issued a check at the end of November, you may have noticed the following message printed on the paystub:

CREDIT NOTE -VAT OVERCHARGE BETW.
1 JAN 2004 & 22/11/07 IF YOU NEED
DETAILS OF THIS VAT PLEASE EMAIL
GOOGLE@BDOSX.IE WITH CUSTOMER REF


However, the paystub should have read:

THIS CHECK IS FOR YOUR EARNINGS AS
PART OF THE GOOGLE ADSENSE PROGRAM.
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, PLEASE
EMAIL ADSENSE-SUPPORT@GOOGLE.COM


Please be assured that the November payment you received is for your AdSense earnings and is not a VAT credit note. In addition, this printing error will not affect your ability to deposit your AdSense earnings as usual.

Phone verification
We're currently experiencing difficulty with our phone verification system, but our engineers are working as quickly as they can to resolve the issue. If you see a prompt in your account asking you to verify your phone number, we ask that you hold off on attempting to do so for the time being. We'll be sure to post a follow-up here on the blog when we have more information for you.

We apologize for any inconvenience or confusion caused by these two issues. Thanks for your patience in the meantime.


URL: http://adsense.blogspot.com/2007/12/few-payments-announcements.html

[G] Update to the Ads Diagnostic Tool

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Inside AdWords: Update to the Ads Diagnostic Tool

One of the most common questions we hear from advertisers is, "Why can't I see my ad?" As you may already know, the Ads Diagnostic Tool can help you determine why your ad might not appear on a Google results page. Now, instead of showing just one reason why your ad may not appear, the Ads Diagnostic Tool lists multiple reasons -- saving you time by listing everything that needs to be fixed in a single page of results.

What might these multiple reasons be? Consider a situation where your campaign has met its daily budget, causing your ad to stop showing for the day. Additionally, the specific keyword might be inactive for search. You'll now be able to learn about these multiple issues immediately so you can adjust your budget settings and modify the keyword based on the Ads Diagnostic Tool results.

You can start using the Ads Diagnostic Tool now by pointing your mouse at the magnifying glass icon next to an individual keyword in your ad group or by going to your account's 'Tools' page.


URL: http://adwords.blogspot.com/2007/12/update-to-ads-diagnostic-tool.html

[G] Gmail <3 AIM

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Official Google Blog: Gmail <3 AIM



Millions of users chat on the Google Talk network every day, and chatting via Gmail chat is by far the most popular way. People tell us they love the convenience and simplicity of having access to their buddies right within the Gmail interface. In fact, for many users, Gmail chat was their first introduction to the world of instant messaging.

We've been working with AOL on ways to let our users talk to their buddies on the AIM network, and I'm delighted to announce that the fruits of that labor are live. Starting today, Gmail users can sign into their AIM accounts via Gmail chat and talk with AIM buddies just as they do with their Google Talk friends. Best of all, the features you love most about Gmail chat, such as chat history and automatic sorting of your buddies based on frequency of communication, work seamlessly across your Google and AIM buddies. This is rolling out in the newest English version of Gmail today and will be available in other languages soon.

A big thank you to our friends at AOL who worked closely with our engineering team to make this possible--and who we can now chat with while in Gmail. :)

URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/12/gmail-3-aim.html

[G] Gmail + chat + AIM = crazy delicious

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Official Gmail Blog: Gmail + chat + AIM = crazy delicious



I was pretty excited when we launched chat integration in Gmail. Finally I could chat and email in one place--but I couldn't chat with friends using other instant messaging services.

From the beginning, Google has been committed to open standards and interoperation for instant messaging. So when our friends at AOL agreed to let Gmail users talk to users on their network, we jumped at the chance.

Today we are happy to tell you about a new feature we've started to roll out which will enable you to sign into your AIM account and chat with your AIM buddies right inside Gmail. When you log in to AIM through Gmail chat, your AOL buddies will appear in your chat list with friends from your Google Talk network, and you will see the yellow "running man" logo to the right of your AIM friends' screen names. To your AIM friends it will look like you are logged in to AIM as usual.

Having more friends to chat with is always more fun and we hope you enjoy this new feature, which we are rolling out today to English Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox 2 users.

P.S. If you own a large IM network and would like to work with us, have your people contact our people.

URL: http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2007/12/gmail-chat-aim-crazy-delicious.html

[G] Answering more popular picks: meta tags and web search

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Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Answering more popular picks: meta tags and web search

Written by John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst, Zürich

In writing and maintaining accurate meta tags (e.g., descriptive titles and robots information), you help Google to more accurately crawl, index and return your site in search results. Meta tags provide information to all sorts of clients, such as browsers and search engines. Just keep in mind that each client will likely only interpret the meta tags that it uses, and ignore the rest (although they might be useful for other reasons).

Here's how Google would interpret meta tags of this sample HTML page:


<!DOCTYPE …><head>
<title>Traditional Swiss cheese fondue recipes<title>utilized by Google, accuracy is valuable to webmasters
<meta name="description" content="Cheese fondue is …">utilized by Google, can be shown in our search results
<meta name="revisit-after" content="14 days">not utilized by Google or other major search engines
<META name="verify-v1" content="e8JG…Nw=" />optional, for Google webmaster tools
<meta name="GoogleBot" content="noOdp">optional
<meta …>
<meta …>
</head>

<meta name="description" content="A description of the page">
This tag provides a short description of the page. In some situations this description is used as a part of the snippet shown in the search results. For more information, please see our blog post "Improve snippets with a meta description makeover" and the Help Center article "How do I change my site's title and description?" While the use of a description meta tag is optional and will have no effect on your rankings, a good description can result in a better snippet, which in turn can help to improve the quality and quantity of visitors from our search results.

<title>The title of the page</title>
While technically not a meta tag, this tag is often used together with the "description." The contents of this tag are generally shown as the title in search results (and of course in the user's browser when visiting the page or viewing bookmarks). Some additional information can be found in our blog post "Target visitors or search engines?", especially under "Make good use of page titles."

<meta name="robots" content="…, …">
<meta name="googlebot" content="…, …">
These meta tags control how search engines crawl and index the page. The "robots" meta tag specifies rules that apply to all search engines, the "googlebot" meta tag specifies rules that apply only to Google. Google understands the following values (when specifying multiple values, separate them with a comma):

The default rule is "index, follow" -- this is used if you omit this tag entirely or if you specify content="all." Additional information about the "robots" meta tag can be found in "Using the robots meta tag." As a side-note, you can now also specify this information in the header of your pages using the "X-Robots-Tag" HTTP header directive. This is particularly useful if you wish to fine-tune crawling and indexing of non-HTML files like PDFs, images or other kinds of documents.

<meta name="google" value="notranslate">
When we recognize that the contents of a page are not in the language that the user is likely to want to read, we often provide a link in the search results to an automatic translation of your page. In general, this gives you the chance to provide your unique and compelling content to a much larger group of users. However, there may be situations where this is not desired. By using this meta tag, you can signal that you do not wish for Google to provide a link to a translation for this page. This meta tag generally does not influence the ranking of the page for any particular language. More information can be found in the "Google Translate FAQ".

<meta name="verify-v1" content="…">
This Google webmaster tools-specific meta tag is used on the top-level page of your site to verify ownership of a site in webmaster tools (alternatively you may upload an HTML file to do this). The content value you put into this tag is provided to you in your webmaster tools account. Please note that while the contents of this meta tag (including upper and lower case) must match exactly what is provided to you, it does not matter if you change the tag from XHTML to HTML or if the format of the tag matches the format of your page. For details, see "How do I verify my site by adding a meta tag to my site's home page?"

<meta equiv="Content-Type" content="…; charset=…">
This meta tag defines the content-type and character set of the page. When using this meta tag, make sure that you surround the value of the content attribute with quotes; otherwise the charset attribute may be interpreted incorrectly. If you decide to use this meta tag, it goes without saying that you should make sure that your content is actually in the specified character set. "Google Webauthoring Statistics" has interesting numbers on the use of this meta tag.

<meta equiv="refresh" content="…;url=…">
This meta tag sends the user to a new URL after a certain amount of time, sometimes used as a simple form of redirection. This kind of redirect is not supported by all browsers and can be confusing to the user. If you need to change the URL of a page as it is shown in search engine results, we recommended that you use a server-side 301 redirect instead. Additionally, W3C's "Techniques and Failures for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0" lists it as being deprecated.

(X)HTML and Capitalization
Google can read both HTML and XHTML-style meta tags (regardless of the code used on the page). In addition, upper or lower case is generally not important in meta tags -- we treat <TITLE> and <title> equally. The "verify-v1" meta tag is an exception, it's case-sensitive.

revisit-after Sitemap lastmod and changefreq
Occasionally webmasters needlessly include "revisit-after" to encourage a search engine's crawl schedule, however this meta tag is largely ignored. If you want to give search engines information about changes in your pages, use and submit an XML sitemap. In this file you can specify the last-modified date and the change-frequency of the URLs on your site.

If you're interested in more examples or have questions about the meta tags mentioned above, jump into our Google Webmaster Help Group and join the discussion.


URL: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2007/12/answering-more-popular-picks-meta-tags.html

[G] Google presents the Elections 2008 gadget

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Google LatLong: Google presents the Elections 2008 gadget



With the 2008 presidential election just around the corner, political news is continuing to grow more important to U.S. voters. In fact, more than a third of Americans (that's more than 100 million people!) are expected to turn to the Internet for their election information in the coming year.

To make accessing this information easier, we have created an elections gadget that will help people stay up-to-date on the latest campaign maps, news, videos and blog posts from the election trail. Add the gadget to your iGoogle homepage to follow the race. You can choose the candidates you want to follow, or keep tabs on them all.

Make sure to check out the maps tab of this gadget to view candidate event trails. Try searching for your own city or state to see which presidential hopeful will be campaigning near you!


URL: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2007/12/google-presents-elections-2008-gadget.html

[G] Welcome to the Playground!

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Official Google Mac Blog: Welcome to the Playground!



You won't be surprised to learn that we like to mix a healthy dose of fun into work. Our Mac team engineers spend their 20% time developing interesting experiments, useful tools, and just-for-fun software.

We've always had a place to showcase our consumer products. Today, we're unveiling the Google Mac Developer Playground, a website where the Mac community can look for new and interesting open source projects and demos from our Mac team. You'll find a variety of projects that we work on in our 20% time, like Cover Story, as well as our more mature open source projects such as MacFUSE and the GData libraries.

One new demo we want to highlight today is Statz. Dave MacLachlan, one of the engineers working on Google Desktop Mac, created it in his "spare" time. Statz lets you coordinate your status messages across various IM clients. If you have more than one IM client, we think this will come in handy.

We hope you'll find the Playground enjoyable and useful. Make sure to keep an eye out for more projects and demos at http://code.google.com/mac/.

URL: http://googlemac.blogspot.com/2007/12/welcome-to-playground.html

Monday, December 3, 2007

[G] The next evolution of labels

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Official Gmail Blog: The next evolution of labels



Back in the Paleolithic Era, the world was a very different kind of place. People were hunter-gatherers, lived in caves, and kept all their email in folders*. You can't really blame them. Between tracking woolly mammoths, fashioning crude stone tools, and auditioning for commercials, having a highly tuned system for organizing email wasn't their highest priority.

But peopled changed. We moved out of caves and into skyscrapers. We hunt for bargains at the corner grocery. And we play video games simulating ourselves playing video games.

As we've changed, so too have our demands for email. Out of the email primordial ooze, Gmail was born with evolutionarily advantageous features like threaded conversations, a mitochondrial symbiosis between mail and chat, and labels. Most email solutions make users slot their emails into bland manila folders, classifying their contents as either black or white, with no subtle shades of gray. But where do you put the heated debate about M&M color superiority: the "ridiculous philosophical discussions," "all things brown," or "chats with mom" folder? With labels, you no longer have to choose. You can sort it all three ways.

Today, we're happy to announce the next evolution of labels: the colored label. Until now the label has been a little inconspicuous creature, subtly suggesting categorical associations in its simple green coat. Oh, we've seen the colored label here and there, its precursors surfacing in various experiments and Greasemonkey scripts; but the label has never before been so brazen, so bold. How will it use its new colors? Will it disguise itself with the chameleon's camouflage or clamor for attention with the monarch butterfly's vivid contrast?

Me? I'm subscribed to a lot of mailing lists: "The Britney Spears Fanboy Club," "Foie Gras Lovers Anonymous," and "UFO Sightings Daily," just to name a few. I get so much mail from my lists, I filter and archive most of it right away but I add labels just in case I need to find it again later. Those labels are my chameleons draped in subtle tones of green and blue. They're there doing their job, but I barely notice them. Every once in a while I get mail that's really important. These emails get my monarch butterfly labels, sporting bright red and yellow. Thanks to colored labels, it's easy to scan my inbox and immediately find all the emails that are really important to me.



Evolution is a great thing.

*P.S. We actually kinda like folders. In fact, we're doing some work to add some folder-y-ish functionality. Stay tuned.

P.P.S. Several new features we've launched, including colored labels, only work in the newest version of Gmail, currently available for IE7 and FireFox 2. Please upgrade your browser to start using those features now.

URL: http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2007/12/next-evolution-of-labels.html

[G] Template Center now available

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Inside AdWords: Template Center now available

As part of our ongoing effort to improve your AdWords experience, we've launched the AdWords Template Center.

Template Center is a free tool available via My Client Center (MCC). It allows MCC account managers to create templates for pre-defined AdWords campaigns and share them with their directly linked AdWords accounts. Advertisers with these linked accounts can quickly and easily view and select campaign templates from their Template Library, then customize them to run their own AdWords campaigns. The MCC account manager can also create policies to restrict the use of certain keywords as well as to restrict or require certain text for ad copy in each campaign template.

Template Center is especially useful for distributed marketing organizations (like franchises) that want to help less savvy or time-constrained marketing partners quickly build out their AdWords accounts and start running high-quality AdWords campaigns. It also helps ensure that marketing partners follow brand and messaging guidelines when marketing products or services through their AdWords campaigns by creating policies for keywords and ad text. The Template Center can also benefit agencies and SEMs that want to share campaign best practices with their clients.

If you are interested in learning more about Template Center, please visit the Template Center section of the AdWords Help Center.


URL: http://adwords.blogspot.com/2007/12/template-center-now-available.html

[G] Featured Gadget: Concise System Info

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Inside Google Desktop: Featured Gadget: Concise System Info



This blog periodically features a Google Desktop gadget and a quote from someone who uses it. If you'd like to recommend a gadget, send us an email.

Roger Pack, a Google Desktop user, says: "Concise System Info rox! I just set it floating at 75% zoom and then minimize Google Desktop. When my computer slows down I can restore gadgets and immediately know why my system is slow."

More information | Download gadget

URL: http://googledesktop.blogspot.com/2007/12/featured-gadget-concise-system-info.html

[G] Introducing the AdWords Local PlusBox

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Inside AdWords: Introducing the AdWords Local PlusBox

In a post last month we told you about the location names that appear beneath locally targeted ads. We've recently made updates with the introduction of the AdWords Local PlusBox. The Local PlusBox is a feature that displays more geographical information for a local business ad that appears in the top position above Google search results. When users see the Local PlusBox and click on it (see the 'closed' screenshot below), the ad expands to include a map, address, driving instructions, and phone number, in addition to the location name that appears beneath the last line of ad.

Closed:

Expanded:

(Click on each image for a full-size version)

If your ad appears with the Local PlusBox, you'll still only pay for clicks that lead to your landing page. You won't be charged for clicks on the Local PlusBox, map, or driving instructions.

If you're already using local business ads, you don't have to change anything in your campaign settings for this feature to appear. If you want the Local PlusBox displayed with your ad, your ad must show in the top position. We recommend increasing your ad quality to improve your ad's position, and please remember that all ads must meet quality and price thresholds to appear at the top of the page.

We are in the process of rolling out this feature to AdWords accounts in the US, Canada, UK, and Germany. It should be available to all advertisers with top placement ads in these countries within the coming week or so.


URL: http://adwords.blogspot.com/2007/12/introducing-adwords-local-plusbox.html

[G] Tune into Picasa Web Albums on Tivo

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Google Photos Blog: Tune into Picasa Web Albums on Tivo



There are plenty of good reasons to share your photos online -- after all, half the fun in taking pictures comes from sharing them with friends and family.

But here's another benefit that hits much closer to home: now you can view Picasa Web Albums on the living room TV using TiVo. In terms of comfort, it's hard to beat a plush sofa and a big-screen TV for browsing your personal photo collection and keeping track of new photo uploads from your friends. You can also search through millions of publicly-shared photos from people around the world.

With Picasa Web Albums on TiVo, you can:

  • securely access your personal photos by signing in to your Picasa Web Albums account
  • quickly find and bookmark publicly-shared photos from your friends
  • show off your photos on the living-room TV, instead of crowding everyone around a computer screen
  • search for keywords like "sunset" or "flowers" and discover images from users all over the world

This new service is available to all TiVo users with Series2 devices or higher using broadband Internet connections. Photos are displayed at the highest-possible resolution for each box, so TiVo Series3™ and TiVo HD subscribers will see their photos in full high-definition. If you're a TiVo subscriber, visit the "Music, Photos, Products & More" screen on your TiVo to give it a spin. To learn more, visit the TiVo website.

URL: http://googlephotos.blogspot.com/2007/12/tune-into-picasa-web-albums-on-tivo.html

[G] Save your top queries

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Inside AdSense: Save your top queries

If you use AdSense for search on your pages, we'd like to let you know about an upcoming change on December 10th that will affect your top queries reports. To prepare for a few upcoming reporting enhancements, top queries data older than a year old will no longer be available. In other words, you'll only be able to view top queries reports dating back one year from the day you're generating the report.

If you have important top queries data which are older than a year old, please run any appropriate reports and save them before December 10th. You may also wish to generate a report dating from the date you started with AdSense for search to today, as data not within the one year window will be continuously removed.



URL: http://adsense.blogspot.com/2007/12/save-your-top-queries.html