Apr 24, 2008

Street View mashups, a month later

Street View is the Google Maps extension that lets you view the streets for particular cities in the US just as you would be driving through them. On March 27th 2008 they released the Street View API which basically gives web developers the needed tools to create web applications that interact with Google's Street View service. Almost a month later, there are a dozen of Street View mashups released, some of them being quite nice:

Dual Maps
Dual maps let you display for a single location a Google Maps view, along with a Google Street View and a Microsoft Virtual Earth view - all side-by-side and also linked together, so when you move the cursor on one it will dynamically move on the other two.


Povo
Povo is a wiki for local places in Boston (for now?). On the wiki page for each place they add businesses, parks, parking lots and any other public information users add. You can search through Povo by location, tags, or for specific questions. Each listing also shows the Street View for that location, one that you can modify if it's not accurate.


RealBird
RealBird lets you list and find homes for sale, all including detailed information as well as map listing and Street View for the location where the house is from.


Flyrig
A website that lets you search for New York apartment rentals. Has a basic implementation of Street View, so beside showing you information about the rented place (price, location) you can also see its position on Google Maps and have a Street View for that location (where supported).


Glotter
A website that contains custom world maps, from showing maps for sport events to displaying sightseeing of fun places, Glotter incorporates them all. Now they've added a Street View option that lets you see panoramic street-level views for particular areas. It's also posible to automate the viewing process (rotate, move forward, move backward).


Vegas Vision
A website that integrates Google Maps and Street View to give you a real look at the Las Vegas Strip.

Apr 23, 2008

Microsoft Live Search adds Sitelinks too

Google had the Sitelinks added since 2006, and 2 years later these are added into Microsoft Live Search too. Sitelinks (Microsoft calls them Deep links) are shortcuts to pages within a specific website that show below that website's listing. They are meant to help you navigate the website by providing links to popular destinations from that website. If Microsoft Live Search deeplinks works like Google sitelinks does then their system analyzes the link structure of a particular website to find shortcuts and shows them automatically.

As you can see the main difference between Live search deeplinks and Google Sitelinks is their number - Live Search shows only 4, while Google shows 8. Also, the link chosen to be displayed as sitelinks are a bit different between the two, which is somehow normal given that they both use different algorithms.

Also the Live Search deeplinks feature is announced as new, I assume they meant that it was added in its final state today given that there are reports this feature for Live Search goes back in 2007 - probably back then there were just tests.

As with any new Live Search feature this needs work too. One of the things they need to improve is the number of websites they recognize Deeplinks in Live Search, because Google shows them for many more websites. Another thing would be to include the ability to control their display through the Webmaster Live section like Google allows through Google Webmaster Center.

Apr 22, 2008

How iGoogle evolves - Developers sandbox

Google launched a "playground" for iGoogle gadgets developers. Called "developers sandbox" this is basically a design view that iGoogle gadget developers can use to put more functionality into their gadgets. This sandbox view is basically the future of the iGoogle look and feel for the end user. The developers sandbox includes support for OpenSocial, an API to help developers build social applications, that also allow interoperability with other social networks that adhere to OpenSocial (such as Hi5, Viadeo, MySpace, Friendster, orkut and Yahoo!).

The new iGoogle will also support canvas view, which means that from an iGoogle Gadget you'll be able to open additional pages (without leaving the iGoogle interface like you do now) where other interactive content would be included.

A couple of things of interest for end-users of iGoogle:
  • the new iGoogle interface will also have a toolbar on the left side where you can have an easy-access menu to see which gadgets you have installed, as well as shortcuts to your email or other Google services
  • the new iGoogle Gadgets will support canavas view, meaning they will have internal pages that you'll be able to open without exiting the iGoogle interface
  • there will also be a right toolbar (more like a gadget) where you will be able to follow what you're friends are doing (kind of like FriendFeed), but also that's where the iGoogle Gadgets updates will be posted - so yes, developers of gadgets will be able to interact with your iGoogle page through that section and post news about the gadgets, limited however up to 5 activities per user per day.
  • the new iGoogle Gadgets can contain ads, but only in the canavas view - "Ads will be limited to the canvas view only and certain types of ads will not be allowed" - probably Adsense will be one of the ad type accepted.
  • the new iGoogle gadgets will be able to invite your friends or send messages to other users (up to 10 messages per day) - all with your permission.


iGoogle will evolve more and more into a web 2.0 portal, posing a threat to Yahoo's portal but also to other social networks that will start losing users mainly because iGoogle will do the same thing, and better. Also, Google's efforts lately have been towards helping developers build faster, better web applications - a move that targets moving more and more users online, where Microsoft doesn't have monopoly.

GoogleDNA, a new service that indexes DNA?

A recent BusinessWeek article talks about the investments Google started making into genetic screening.
The facts:
  • In 2007 Google invested $4.4 million (BusinessWeek.com, 11/29/07) in a genetic screening company called 23andMe. The company was started by Anne Wojcicki (wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin), and her business partner. 23andMe, for a price of $1000 will "help you read and understand your DNA. After providing a saliva sample using an at-home kit, you can use our interactive tools to shed new light on your distant ancestors, your close family and most of all, yourself." So they're taking the fun approach of the DNA analysis, that of getting to know your ancestors.
  • Google recently invested (amount not disclosed) in Navigenics too, a company that takes a different approach for DNA testing. You send them a sample of your saliva and they will test it against several possible diseases and send you results that you can share with your physician to see what caution measures could be taken.

  • While their investment in these companies is declared to be purely financial, a Google spokesman told that they wanted to invest in these companies because they have a common mission statement with Google's, which is to organize world's information and to make it universally accessible. So, through DNA analysis there will be a lot of information gathered, which seems would fit into the "organizing and sharing" mission statement.

You can read the article for full details, but the basic idea remains: Google started to show interest into the DNA analysis/organizing/sharing field. I wonder what will Microsoft do, because for sure they're not going to be left out of an expanding industry.

Apr 21, 2008

Earth Day 2008, will you do something about it?

On April 22nd millions of people will celebrate Earth Day, a special day when you should do something to show your support for fighting climate change. While there's no need to wait for a particular day to do something good for the environment (hence for The Earth), Earth Day has as a purpose promoting such environmental-friendly behaviors and remind people that we shouldn't live on Earth just like simple parasites - we have to give something good back to the nature. The official Earth Day website says it better and gives you clues on what you could do on this special day:
Since the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970, Earth Day has been an annual event for people around the world to celebrate the earth and renew our commitment to building a safer, healthier and cleaner world for all of us. There are many ways you can get involved. Volunteer. Go to a festival. Install solar panels on your roof. Organize an event where you live. Change a habit. Help launch a community garden. Communicate your priorities to your elected representatives. The possibilities are endless! Do something nice for the earth, have fun, meet new people, and make a difference.

They've also set up a location where they list events that are going to take place in cities all over the world, so if you have some time to do something on April 22nd why not participate in such an event: Worldwide Earth Day 2008 Events
I use a bike daily to go to work, but tomorrow I'll participate in a peaceful Critical Mass event.

Of course Google wouldn't let this event pass by without making a difference. Tomorrow they'll change their logo to a special Earth Day 2008 Google logo that will most likely link to the official Earth Day website, or to the website Google specially set up for this occasion: What will you do for Earth Day '08?
On their special Earth Day website they've set up a way for you to share your feedback on what you're going to do for your planet.

Not only you can leave a simple text message, but you can add an YouTube video with what you'll do (or did) and also if you'll use Google Checkout to donate money to an environmental non-profit on behalf of your friends a marker will be added to the Google Maps mashup they did on that page - if your friends will donate too, they'll be linked to your marker and you'll be able to track how your generosity spreads (you might need to try a little later given that right now they return the "Google Checkout is temporarily unavailable at this time. Please check back again in a moment" - too many donations maybe?).

We can sum up all this to a couple of things you could do for your community in particular, and for the Earth in general:
  • Don't use a polluting car (electrical ones are ok), if not in general, at least tomorrow - there are other ways to go to work/school: walk, use a bike, and if not use the public transportation
  • Consume less. Unless your body works different than anyone's else and you consume CO2 instead of eliminating it, don't consume much of anything on Earth Day. You can reduce the electricity usage (go for a walk instead of watching a movie), water (take a short shower, not a long bath), food (eat an apple for dinner, not a hamburger) or pretty much reduce the usage of anything else that is in a way affecting the natural resources.
  • Donate to environmental non-profits. Be it Greenpeace or Earth Day Network, they'll all appreciate your effort.

While there's many other things you can do, the most important one is to do something for your Earth - you've heard lots of things about climate changes, pollution and how all of these affect the Earth, but just so you know our planet will always survive, it's the future of the humankind that has a question mark.
[Update]: Google added indeed a special Google Earth Day 2008 logo:

They've also released an Energy Saver Google Gadget (for Google Desktop) that lets you save energy by optimizing the power management settings:


YouTube goes green-logoed too, and shows us 5 easy ways of going green:


Nevertheless Google Docs also gives an example on how using online documents helps save paper - which enventually helps the planet by cutting less trees. The idea of a paperless office is not new, so try using online documents (portable ones, like PDF) whenever possible, instead of printing to paper.

Apr 19, 2008

How to report a Google Adsense violation

I've seen on a website a Google Adsense ad that was masked by a tricky image letting you think you were going to play a video - I could tell it was an Adsense ad because when I hovered over it I could see the URL it was going to open (starting with pagead2.googlesyndication.com). When you encounter such a website that you consider contains offensive ads, or that is in some way trying to trick you into clicking on the ad, you can report it and the publisher's Google Adsense account will be banned if found guilty. You can either click on the Ads by Google text that is shown in the bottom-right corner of the ad group, that will let you select an option to report the site, or visit directly Google's policy violation support page (bottom of the post).

Actually the list of violations is quite large, and you can report Google Adsense violation if the website contains: adult content, hacking/cracking content, promotions for drugs, gambling or casino-related content, violent/racial content, promotions for weapons, alcohol, tobacco and tobacco-related products. What's even more interesting is that if you consider (and can prove) the website in cause uses content that is copyrighted you can report it too

Finally, if the site specifically encourages users to click on the ads, places misleading images near ads, it's difficult to distinguish the ads from the content or that if it contains any form of spyware/malware, you can report it too.

The contact form to report the Adsense violation is here: Report a Policy Violation

Whois search using Google is back

Google can show you some basic WHOIS information for a domain if you search using the following format whois domain.com. As an example, you can see the whois information for google.com by performing the following search: whois google.com.

If you click on the title for this you'll be redirected to a domaintools page where you can see more details about the domain. This feature is not something new, Google introduced it back in 2004, but it was turned off soon after that because the sites Google used for WHOIS searches were infringing Netsol policies.

As you can see they are using the whois information provided by domaintools.com, because querying whois themselves would probably require much more investments from their side. Useful would be if in the future they'll add also the registrant information in this summary (which they'll probably do).

Anyway, glad they brought this WHOIS search back because this allows to quickly search and see if a domain is taken or not - if the domain is not taken you'll get the "Your search - whois domain.com - did not match any documents", otherwise you'll get the WHOIS summary.

Apr 18, 2008

Live Search News gets updated

See, Microsoft's Live Search team is (somehow) productive too. They recently announced several improvements for the Live News Search service (or Live Search News?).
What I like in this update:
  • Playing multimedia without leaving the news search results page. On the news results page they incorporate images and videos with "smart-motion thumbnails". What's nice about this is that you can watch the videos related to the news search you performed by hovering the video thumbnail and clicking the small Play icon.
  • Related news searches. To the right of the news results (note this Google, to the right, not above or below the results!) you'll see a Related Searches list that shows up to 8 items based on the popularity of their searches (via the News interface?).
  • They finally offer (some) news, as the headlines are updated "to the minute" if you use the Most Recent sort option - plus you can refine the news by the category they're part of (still shown on the right side).



You can give it a try too, say do a search for earthquake on Live Search and see how this compares to the same Google News earthquake query. I know, they say that the Live News Search updates faster now (even when using the Sort by Relevance filter), yet the newest result on Google News search is about the Illinois earthquake updated an hour ago, while the newest result on Live News earch shows as being updated 5 hours ago. There's some work to do here for the Live Search team, as availability is the most important feature for news - they'll get there soon as it seems they'll add news from blog sources too.

Googlers are productive

Recent Google software and services updates:
  • Google Video gets a facelift. Now offering three ways to view video search-results (list, grid and TV view), showing a timeline view that lets you see what was popular in the past (most blogged, most shared) and they updated the homepage of Google Video too. Though one thing I would have expected is to give up the frame usage for viewing a video - I like to be able to scroll below the video too, like on YouTube, and is annoying I can't do that when watching a Google Video.
  • Google Website Optimizer and Urchin are out of beta. What's more interesting is that now Google Website Optimizer is accessed through its own website as a standalone service (using the login you have for Google Analytics) and not part of Google Adwords only as it was before. Urchin is the commercial desktop version of Google Analytics (sold through Google Analytics Authorized Consultants for the price of $3000) and comes with a couple more features than Google Analytics (like logging server errors, offering analytics for intranets, processing previous logs).
  • Google Earth reaches 4.3 (beta). Now it offers real photos of buildings from some cities, a Sunlight feature that lets you how does the sunrise look on Himalaya for instance, navigate from Google Sky view to the Streetview one.
  • And Picasa for Linux is updated to version 2.7 (I know, not an important update, but it's good to see they don't forget the Linux users.

I'll be covering soon the new beta version of Google Earth since it's one of the most interesting updates.

Use Google Analytics in Google Adwords Editor

I'm using Google Adwords Editor to manage multiple Google Adwords account from my desktop, without going through the hassle of visiting the online page and logging in and off to verify each account. It's very useful because it allows: managing multiple Adwords accounts, making bulk changes to keywords/ads/ad groups, working offline and synchronizing changes when connected, copy/paste keywords/ads/ad groups and campaigns in between ads/ad groups and campaigns - download and more information is available here.

However, there is one feature that it's missing and would prove to be very useful - integration with a Google Analytics account. In order to see how your Adwords keywords perform via Google Analytics you have to go online and log-in in Analytics to verify all this. So, I asked them if an integration with Google Analytics is planned in the near future. To be more specific, this is the email I sent:
I know you received by now a million questions like this, but haven't seen anything in the FAQ. So, will there be an integration of Google Analytics in Google Adwords editor?
Thank you.


They answered the next day, and even if I get the impression this is a semi-automated email, it seems that they will add it in the future:
Hello Claudiu,
Thank you for your suggestion to integrate Google Analytics with AdWords Editor. We greatly appreciate any feedback or suggestions for ways we can improve Google Analytics. Your comments provide us with the assistance we need to optimize our program, so please continue to give us feedback in the future. We will look forward to include this feature and inform you when it is implemented. We thank you for your feature request.

If you have additional questions about Google Analytics, please visit the Analytics Help Center at
http://www.google.com/support/googleanalytics/?utm_id=tf. You can also find helpful tips and information by visiting the Google Analytics Help Forum at http://groups.google.com/group/analytics-help?utm_id=tr.
We look forward to providing you with the most effective advertising available.

Sincerely,
Puneet
The Google AdWords Team

Apr 17, 2008

"Obama said about Iraq" - find quotes with Google News

Google News recently introduced a feature that allows searching for quotes. Actually when you search the name of an important person (be it a politician like Barack Obama or a geek like Bill Gates) you'll see at the top of the news results a quote that this VIP used in a recent interview, for instance searching on Google News for Barack Obama will show a grey box at the top with his latest quote:

And this is not all, if you click on his name (under the quote, "by Barack Obama") you'll see a list of all his quotes that Google News indexed in the published news:

Now it gets more interesting, on the page where all his quotes are listed, there's a search box to the left that lets you "Search these quotes" - what this does is searching within all his quotes for a specific word, so if you enter Iraq in there, Google News will show all the quotes where Obama mentioned Iraq. Useful if you want to test yourself the honesty of a politician - searching for instance for NAFTA in a list of quotes by Hillary Clinton.

Google Search insight from Udi Manber

Udi Manber is a VP of Engineering at Google. Started as a professor at the University of Arizona, after that he was senior VP at Amazon and before he started to work for Google he was Yahoo's chief scientist. Popular Mechanics asked him in an interview 20 questions regarding Google Web Search (how it works, future improvement plans), so if you want to know a little more about how search works and what plans they've got it's a worthy reading. I've extracted below some of the affirmations I consider more interesting from this inteview:
  • "Last year the Google research team did over 450 improvements" to the Google Web Search algorithm. Impressive, though by improvements I'm not sure if they mean bug fixes too or simply optimizations they did to make search better.
  • "We make the decisions solely based on how good it is for search, how good it is for users not how this affects ads". Pretty self-explanatory, he was asked if when proposing new features or optimizations for the web search algorithm they take into account what impact this will have on the ad revenue - obviously not.
  • "At Google we do not manually change results". This is one interesting affirmation, given when asked if they interfere manually on the search results - they don't, every change they make they do it on the overall algorithm rather than handling the exceptions manually (except, of course, in some cases when they deal with spammy websites).
  • "The results we show you are based not only on what we know of the Web, but also what other people have searched for". This is interesting too, at least for website owners. It's not clear if he refers specifically to the suggestions Google does via the OneBox results (the Related Searches he mentions in the interview), or if he says that Google will rank certain results better just because those specific results were what other users (searching for similar keywords) were looking for. For instance, you do a search for photofiddle and you click on the second page in the search results, than a different user does the same thing, and another and so on - his affirmation might be interpreted that when a new user will search for photofiddle, Google will show on the first position the result that had the best click-through rate.
  • "I can imagine if you give us permission to [fold the context of your social network into search results], and we find that that’s useful for some queries". Showing search results in Google not only from the regular web search index and based on your web history, but also from your other stored information in different social networks (myspace, facebook, digg, delicious)
  • One of his favorite features recently introduced in Google Translate is CLIR. How this works: you enter a word in English for instance, and select as an output search Spanish. What Google will do is translate your query into Spanish, search for that translated Spanish word, and return the results to you translated back into English (with the possibility to see the Spanish results too). Currently supported languages: Arabic, Chinese (Traditional, Simplified), Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish

As mentioned above, it's an interesting read, so if you have some time and willing to learn more about Google, take a look here: 20 (Rare) Questions for Google Search Guru Udi Manber

Apr 16, 2008

Is YouTube planning photo sharing?

Maybe the title is a little speculative, but browsing around YouTube I've ended on what I think it is a database error that returned the following image:

The above one is a screenshot in case they take it down, the original image right now is here: http://www.youtube.com/img/cache_error.jpg
It seems to be a scheme of how their different services interact with each other and the way the information goes from the user to their servers and the database: information that user sends goes through the ManagerTube, gets filtered using the Collaborative Filter and after that sent to the Video Servers and Image servers ending in the database (of course the process is reversed when user requests the information).

What's interesting about this is the Image Servers mention in there. YouTube stores for now the thumbnails for videos and other images (logo, design items) but why didn't that image be a small part of the Documents image and plus why it shows as a camera - may be a wild (speculative) guess but it's not that big of a deal if YouTube would add a photo sharing service like Flickr - after all, Flickr started the war when they added a way to do video sharing.
A couple of facts:
  • YouTube already has the technological "social side" developed for the video sharing (you can upload, add comments, ratings, accounts, ...)
  • Google already has an entire system set up for Google Images that might port to YouTube Photo sharing, not to mention the Picasa Web Albums service (maybe porting this into YouTube)
  • Google lost the battle over purchasing Flickr a while ago, and there is market for photo sharing as Flickr itself proves it (and many others)

If you're thinking why Google would do that since there's already Picasa Web Albums you're also going to have think why Google Videos still exists and is not completely merged with YouTube - this proves that for Google it doesn't matter if it's offering the same service but under different brands.

Anyway, back to the photo of the YouTube cache error, I tried to see what it's written on those fingers and my (wild) guess is that it says Floood (not 2 but 3 "o") - meaning the action of the database being flooded and that's when those "hands" unplug the connection. YouTube Photo sharing, the more I think about it the more I consider it possible. On the same logic, given there's a Documents image in there too, maybe they'll add a document flash sharing sort of like Scribd is (if before you could say I was almost near the line, here you can say it I completely crossed it).

How many items are listed in Google Base?

Google Base is a free Google service that lets you publish any kind of information. It doesn't matter if you're a business or not, you can simply publish any item - be it a news about Pope Benedict XVI's visit in US or a review about a new product like Apple I - you can publish it if you have a Google account. You can login and already start submitting items from these categories (or if not you can create a custom category for a particular item you want to have published): Events and activities, Recipes, Real Estate ads, Reviews, Jobs, Services, Personals, Travel packages, Products, Vehicles for sale, News and Articles, Course schedules, Wanted ads. Once you're logged in, you can submit an item via their web form (or using bulk data feeds if you have more than 10 items), and if it's processed it will appear in the Google Base search, Froogle (if it's a product) and even in Google itself as a Google OneBox suggestion.

Anyway, Google Base it's a good way to have content promoted for free (be it products, services, ...) but I wanted to know how popular is it in terms of items that it has - so, because of a small glitch in Google Base, I was able to find out that there are 1,790,919,232 items submitted. The glitch I mentioned is performing an empty search in Google Base - that simple. If this is corrected on other services like the main Google web search, they didn't correct it in Google Base, so when performing an empty search you'll see to the right the number of items it searches through:

Apr 15, 2008

Search YouTube, as fast as you can type

YouTube has its own search system but it takes a while for it to display the results given that it has to load all those additional images and display the results in a specific view. It's not abnormal to take a little longer to show the video search results, if you take into account that for each video loads ratings, views, duration, when it was loaded and so on. However, someone used the YouTube APIs and Tools to create an external YouTube Fast Search plugin that allows you to search for YouTube videos using AJAX environment with a drag and drop player - as normal this loads faster because it's the stripped down video with no comments/ratings/views.

An even better thing is that if you own a website/blog and want to add a way to search for YouTube videos (for things like, I don't know, Tricia Walsh Smith YouTube Divorce video) without having the user leaving your site, you can use their plugin (the videos are played externally though).
Once the search results are returned, you can click the video thumbnail to play it or drag-and-drop it to the right cell (you can create playlists with the videos too). Nice plug-in overall, though I was a bit confused with the Most Viewed | Most Linked | VideoWall links because I thought that once a search is preformed, if you click the Most Viewed link it will sort those video search results by the number of views - unfortunately it simply returns the list of Most Viewed videos from YouTube.

YouTube videos in Google Maps listings

When visiting businesses listings that are shown in Google Maps, you can now view YouTube videos of that particular place, if the owner created one and linked it to the local business description. If you are a business owner in the US that targets clients on a city/state level and you haven't added a local business listing on Google Maps then you should kick yourself (you can choose where) because not also it's a good way to promote your business, but also to receive feedback about it. I wrote a long time ago a post on how to add a business to Google Maps (not the main topic of that post but there's a small guide) and you'll get this way the chance to see your business listed on Google Maps with a small Overview, a Details tab, Reviews added by Google Maps users, Photos and Videos that you can upload, and Web Pages that link to your business listing website. The new YouTube videos will be listed under Reviews - just kidding, they'll appear in the Photos and Videos tab:

To associate an YouTube video (that you uploaded) with a local business listing, go to the Local Business Center and click on Edit for your business listing, go to the Photos tab and add in there the YouTube video information (I would post a screenshot but seems the Local Business Center is down for the moment and cannot get anything else than a "System Error. We're sorry, but we are unable to serve your request at this time. Please try back in a few minutes. ").

Apr 14, 2008

Read stories on Google Maps

Penguin UK (leading publisher of classics in English) in collaboration with Six Authors brought some innovation in Google Maps - a web 2.0 digital collaboration storytelling. Over the course of six weeks, the six authors will write six stories (666? - no, actually there will be a secret 7th story) that you can read using Google Maps. You can follow the stories as they unfold across a map of the world, using the familiar Google Maps interface. Right now there are 4 stories listed, 2 more to come in the following weeks:


There's also a competition in place, but this is open to UK residents only (bummer since the prize comprises of books valued at about $40,000):
To enter the competition, read the weekly stories posted on this site. As each story is posted, a new question related to it will appear on this page. When all six stories have been released, you'll be able to submit your answers here. Correctly submitted answers will be put in a hat and a draw will be made to find the winner. Please bear in mind that this prize is more than 25 meters of books – so do think about how and where you might store them!

Prize aside, if you want to read something interactive give it a try.

Salesforce integrates with Google Apps

If more than 10 months ago as a result of a partnership between Salesforce and Google Salesforce for Google Adwords was released, today they announced a new service that allows Salesforce customers to integrate the web based CRM service with Google Apps.

Salesforce for Google Apps lets business users that are registered both for Google Apps and Salesforce, to access Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk, and Google Docs from within the web based Salesforce CRM interface. Right now this service is offered for free to Salesforce customers, more advanced services to be added later for an additional cost.

What you can do if you are a Salesforce and Google Apps customer:

  • Gmail in Salesforce - you can send messages to contacts from inside Salesforce or log e-mails sent from the Gmail interface in Salesforce
  • Google Talk in Salesforce - communicate with colleagues right from the Salesforce web based interface
  • Google Docs in Salesforce - share documents with your colleagues, partners and customers
  • Google Calendar in Salesforce - manage multiple calendars (Google Calendar) in Salesforce
  • iGoogle in Salesforce - customized page that shows everything that you consider important business wise


This new integration (as well as future ones) is meant to win some of the users of Microsoft's Dynamics CRM suite, though the main player that wins most is Google itself. Salesforce may be expanding its services this way, but Google is the one that gains more customers for Google Apps (from the Salesforce customer base). This move sparkled again the idea that Google may have the intention to purchase Salesforce, yet this idea was rejected by both sides. It would be logical to go this route since Google barely makes any profit by selling its software suite (the Google Apps business edition) compared to how much it makes from its advertising services, so increasing the offerings for business users by adding a Google CRM suite would mean more revenue.

Apr 12, 2008

Google crawls html forms too

As the post on the Google Webmaster blog says, the Googlebot knows now how to crawl links that are inside HTML forms too. So this means that if you have a web form that has as an action a redirect to another page (or that simply contains links within the form that directs the user to different sections in your website that are in other languages) the googlebot will index that page too. This way they say that Google will be able to index even more information. True if you're considering the following example, a big corporate site that on the main page has a form where you can select different languages - until now Google had no way of indexing the links in that web form, unless they were included in a special sitemap.

However, this new crawling behavior won't be practiced on all websites, for now they're just testing this on some websites that are considered more important. On one website I manage I've seen a couple of days back that Google indexed some redirect pages that weren't mentioned anywhere else and now it makes sense. This website has a purchase web form that lets you select the product, version and edition, and after that when the visitor clicks on the purchase button it is sent through a redirect page with parameters to the landing page. The obvious problem is that Google indexed about 30 pages that had different parameters in the url, but they all contained basically the same text - I solved this by adding the redirect page as a disallow in the robots.txt file.

Couple more things about the fact that Google now crawls forms:
- if a form contains as action an javascript function that includes urls, Google will be able to crawl the urls mentioned in the javascript too (Google has been recognizing links in javascript and flash objects for a while now)
- it would be useful if they would add some sort of parameter to add via Google webmaster tools that would disallow the googlebot to index all the forms on your website. Imagine you have in a web form 40 links that you don't want indexed, but they're all different - you would have to manually add those as disallow in the robots.txt

Somehow I don't really find this useful, because as a webmaster if you want something indexed you can add that url to a sitemap.

Apr 11, 2008

Google jobs vs Microsoft jobs vs Yahoo jobs


Everyone seems to think Google's the best place on Earth to work at, but what do the other leaders (in the search engine industry), Microsoft and Yahoo (soon might be only Microsoft), have to offer?

A job is not all about the payment, but this has an important role in deciding the best job to be at. Below is a graph that illustrates what (average) salary a software engineer has at Google, compared to one working at Microsoft or Yahoo (all three have offices in New York, where the search was done for via indeed.com):

Ok, Google is clearly the leader here, but what about other benefits? Below I gathered the information provided on their websites regarding the investment, healthcare, family and other benefits:
Google Jobs Yahoo Jobs Microsoft Jobs

Investment

Benefits

Google 401(k) Plan - contribute up to 60% and receive a Google match of up to the greater of (a) 100% of your contribution up to $2,500 or (b) 50% of your contribution per year)

529 College Savings Plan - save money for post-secondary education

Employee Stock Purchase Plan - through payroll deductions employees pay only 85% of market value for the stock

401K (with company match) - Yahoo! matches 25% of employee contributions up to the IRS maximum

Pre-Tax Savings Programs - offers employees two Flexible Spending Account options

Employee Stock Purchase Plan - use from 1 percent to 15 percent of your after-tax salary to buy Microsoft stock at a 10 percent discount

Savings Plus 401(k) Plan - defer up to 50 percent of your pretax salary dollars, Microsoft matches 50 cents on every dollar up to 6 percent of your contribution

Credit Unions - checking accounts, bank cards, and competitive interest rates

Health

Medical Insurance - 3 Carriers: Blue Shield, CIGNA, Kaiser

Dental Insurance -Delta Dental

Vision Insurance - Exams, contacts, lenses and frames are covered

Life Insurance - Automatic coverage at 2 times annual salary

Disability - Long Term Disability coverage provided at 66 2/3% of salary once Short Term disability is exhausted

Business Travel Accident Insurance - 2 times annual salary

EAP - free short-term counseling, legal consultations, financial counseling, child care referrals and pet care referrals

Medical Insurance - through PPO, Open Choice; Aetna EPO, Elect Choice, Aetna AHF, Standard CPOS II and Kaiser HMO

Dental Insurance - Delta Dental

Vision Insurance - One exam and frames/lenses per year

Life insurance - Basic life insurance/AD&D is provided to all employees at no cost (of two times their annual salary).

Medical Insurance (Preferred Plus Plan; Group Health Cooperative Plan)

Dental Insurance - basic plan

Vision Insurance - one annual eye exam and reimbursement for one pair of glasses or contacts per person, per calendar year; help offset the cost of LASIK eye surgery

Health Care Flexible Spending Account - reimbursing eligible and out-of-pocket medical, dental, and vision expenses on a pretax basis up to $5,000 per year

Life Insurance - minimum of $50,000 to a maximum of six times your annual base pay or $1,000,000, whichever is less

Disability - Coverage can equal up to 60 percent of your monthly base pay

24-hour Health Line - helps you make appropriate healthcare decisions

Stay Fit Program - paid health club membership

Employee Assistance Program - confidential counseling services 24/7

Family

Maternity Benefits - 12 weeks off at 75% pay

Parental Leave - 6 weeks off at 75% pay for California employees; 2 weeks off at 100% pay for other U.S. states

Vacation - 1st year (15 days); 4th year (20 days); 6th year (25 days)

Back-Up Child Care - 5 free days of child care per year

Take-Out Benefit - expense up to $500 for take-out meals during the first four weeks

Google Child Care Center - free?

Adoption Assistance - reimburse you up to $5000

Back-up child care - not specified

Vacation - 1st year (2 weeks) ; 2nd year (3 weeks); an additional day for each year worked thereafter plus 12 paid official hollidays

Paid Maternity & Parental Leave - 8 weeks of paid maternity leave (Additional unpaid leave is optional)

Vacation - 1st year (3 weeks) ; 6th year (4 weeks); 12 years (5 weeks)

Family Backup Care - days not specified

Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account - lower your taxable income by reimbursing eligible day care up to $5,000 per year, per household

Adoption Assistance - Reimburses up to $5,000 per child

Child Care Discounts - Tuition discounts of 20% are available with nationwide providers

Extra

Tuition Reimbursement - $8000 per calendar year (must have "B" or better)

Food and drinks - free snacks and meals with beverages

On-site Convenience Services - Doctor, oil change, car wash, dry cleaning, massage therapy, gym, hair stylist, fitness classes and bike repair.

Others: Shuttle ServiceFinancial Planning Classes

Tuition reimbursement - not specified

Food and drinks: Free sodas and specialty coffee drinks, Cafeteria

On-site Convenience Services - ATM machine, car wash and oil change, dental care, dry cleaning, haircuts

Others: Commuter options, Consulting subsidies, Discount movie passes, Free one-year Yahoo! Music subscription, Free upgrade to Flickr Pro, Game room, Health club and massages, Matching charitable gift program

Tuition Assistance Program - Reimburses tuition fees and textbooks for approved work-related courses

Free Beverages - free drinks while working at Microsoft

On-site Convenience Services - Free grocery delivery, on-site dry cleaning and laundry services, convenience shopping, and dinners to go

Others: Prime Program, Matching Charitable Donations,
Company Store (discounts for Microsoft products), Group Legal Plan


Google does provide quite some things, but you can't ignore what Microsoft has to offer too - Yahoo is a little left behind (especially on the family benefits side).

Deciding which job is best for you is just the first step, because you also have to get accepted. I declare Google the winner not because of the fun they have, but because I've seen this video featuring their massage manager:

Apr 10, 2008

Yahoo is searching for help

Busy day for Yahoo yesterday, after announcing the acquisition of IndexTools they've also issued a press release to say that they're partnering with ... Google. Well, not a partnership in the true meaning of the word actually, as they say it it's a test they're doing by providing Google Adsense ads through their network instead of their own Yahoo Publisher Network ads, under certain terms:
The test will apply only to traffic from yahoo.com in the U.S. and will not include Yahoo!'s extended network of affiliate or premium publisher partners. The test is expected to last up to two weeks and will be limited to no more than 3% of Yahoo! search queries

This is definitely interesting, as the deadline Microsoft set until it will try to takeover Yahoo approaches (April 26th). It seems that they're in search of support to face Microsoft's tactics, and not only they're partnering with Google, but also there are mentions they will merge with AOL (that already displays Google Adsense ads in its network). So instead of waiting for the inevitable to happen, they're struggling. Good luck Yahoo, as you'll need it - Microsoft didn't take any actions yet (except that they're unhappy with this ad partnership with Google that seems to set a monopoly on the search ad market) and nor has Google issued any press release regarding the partnership with Yahoo.

YouTube goes more viral, updates Insights too

YouTube changed its interface, mainly by adding the Statistics & Info tab but also by re-organizing the existing information. Also, now you are able to change the quality of the video you're watching from the Standard one to the High quality YouToube played around lately (if you don't see this button, add at the end of the YouTube video url &fmt=18, so for instance the url would look like http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIxmi3e2Vmo&fmt=18):

As you can see, the Share tab is now the main one loaded offering you the option to easily submit it to Digg, Facebook, Myspace, ... It makes sense to be the first one loaded because they want popularity. Problem is with the Favorite tab, because if you are logged in and click it automatically the video will be added to the list of your Favorites without asking you for confirmation - which it should. Playlists, Flag - old things just moved around. The Statistics and Info tab now also shows more details, but basically is the same information that was provided before too: Honors, Ratings and Sites linking to this video.
The Commentary tab is also better organized, with comments split into Text and Video comments. Overall the changes are towards improved user interaction, except that Favorite tab that doesn't show a confirmation.

If you're an uploader, Youtube Insights was also updated. Now it shows a Discovery tab that shows you the Top Sources and the percentage of their referral importance:

Apr 9, 2008

Yahoo to battle Google Analytics with IndexTools

Since Microsoft announced the bid of 40-something billion dollars, Yahoo! had a pale presence in the buying field. However, today they entered the news area by announcing the agreement to purchase the Hungarian company IndexTools, an web analytics business:
...to acquire substantially all of the assets of Tensa Kft., more commonly known as IndexTools, a leading provider of Web analytics software for online marketing. The acquisition includes IndexTools' Web analytics business and technology as well as its Tensa R&D Kft. subsidiary. Upon completion of the acquisition, the addition of the IndexTools' assets is intended to expand Yahoo!'s powerful set of services designed to maximize its clients' online marketing efforts.


It's clearly a move towards creating a powerful competitor for Google Analytics, however it's not known yet when such a service (please call it Yahoo Stats and not Yahoo Analytics) will be available and if it's going to follow the same principle as Google's does (free for up to 5 million pageviews/month, Adwords account required for more than that). For starter it's going to be an improvement for Yahoo's current analytics platform for online marketing campaigns, but a separate service might be launched.

Anyway, the big news involving Yahoo! are expected for the end of this month, as Microsoft set a deadline for Yahoo to accept its $41 billion buyout offer by April 26 , warning that if a deal wasn't reached by then, Microsoft would launch a hostile takeover at a smaller attractive price. Boy, I kind of see the headlines on April 26th: "Microsoft buys Yahoo", "Microsoft crushes Yahoo", "Yahoo smashed by the 500-pound gorilla", and I could just go on. Remains to be seen.

Googl, Googel - How search engines handle misspells

Everybody misspells when searching for information. Either it's because you're in a hurry, or because you really don't remember the exact name, you're contributing to the large number of misspelled word searches that make engineers behind search engines like Google, Yahoo or Live think of better solutions to return the results you intended to find in the first place.
I'm starting with the conclusion, but Yahoo and Live Search handle this better than Google.

How Google handles misspells
Whenever you do a search on Google for a misspelled word it will show you at the top a suggestion, based on a broad match it's doing between your search and its database. Example, searching for any of the following misspelled words will make Google suggest you to search for the best match it found (Did you mean: Google): googl, googel, goggle, goole, gogle, googles, gooogle.

This way it gives you the option to choose whether you want to search for what Google thinks you meant to search for. This is a good way to check your spelling too. If you don't know how a word is spelled you can search for it in Google and you'll also get a suggestion in case the word is not spelled correctly.
Google does its best to try to avoid showing how popular some misspelled word searches are. For instance, one tool that Google provides is the Google Suggest service. As you type, Google Suggest will show you up to ten other similar popular searches that people did. However, if you try entering a misspelled word, Google Suggest will show you the corrected word in the suggestion box. Try this, go to Google Suggest and type in Googl and after that a space. You'll see that the suggestions are all for the correct match, which is Google:

Now this doesn't mean there aren't ways to find the popularity of particular misspelled words using Google. A remarkably useful tool for marketers is the Google Adwords Suggestion tool, which lets you search for words (and their synonyms) and sort them by their search popularity.

How Yahoo Search handles misspells
When you enter a misspelled word in Yahoo Search, Yahoo will automatically show you the results page for the corrected word (what it considers to be the best match) and gives you the option to show the results for the misspelled word. So say you are searching for yaho, it will return you the results page for yahoo which is the corrected word but lets you also search only for yaho if you either put a plus sign in front of it (like +yaho) or clicking the word in the message that informs you what it searched for:

While this is a better approach than Google's, Yahoo will also let you know the popularity of particular misspelled words. For instance, doing the same search for Googl on Yahoo (unlike Google the suggestions are shown by default as you type in Yahoo):

As you can see even as you type goog, it will suggest you that googl and googel are other popular misspellings (suggestions are shown based on their popularity).

How Live Search handles misspells
Live Search doesn't have a suggestion service (like Google suggest or Yahoo suggest), but it behaves in the same manner as Yahoo does when you're entering a misspelled word/phrase as a query - it will show you the results for the corrected word, but also gives you the option to show the results for your misspelled word (same test using the googl keyword):

So, the ideal behavior for a search engine in this case would be to return automatically the results for the corrected word and to give you the option to search additionally for the misspelled one (just like Yahoo and Live Search do), but also the suggestion service should exclude the misspelled words (like Google Suggest does).

Apr 8, 2008

Google Sued over StreetView privacy issue

An US couple from Pittsburgh (Oakridge Lane) sued Google because of the StreetView service, which made publicly available photos of their house. The Boring family (really, this is their name) want $25,000 for the reduction in the value of their house caused by the publication of the photos (which they specifically acquired in the first place due to the privacy offered), and of course for mental suffering. You can see below their property from distance:

View Larger Map
However, it seems that Google removed the photos that the couple claimed were shot after the company trespassed on a road marked private, so this means maybe Google acknowledged the fact that it was trespassing after all. Or maybe they used the StreetView option that provides a way to remove photos that affect your privacy.

Google App Engine aka free web application hosting

Google is all over the news. Again. This time Google launched Google App Engine (actually a preview release), a solution that offers developers the possibility to run web applications using Google's infrastructure. Right now Google App Engine allows developers to write applications only using Python 2.5 (but this doesn't mean your website templates cannot have HTML with Javascript or use Ajax), and is available for free but limited to 10,000 developers - as you may have guessed all these spots are taken, so if you try to apply you'll be greeted with:
Unfortunately, space is limited during Google App Engine's preview release. As we expand, we'll invite more developers, but for now you'll have to wait.
Would you like to be notified by email when space becomes available?

Of course you can be added to a "Waiting list" so when they decide to invite more developers or make the service live you will be announced, so sign up here if interested: Google App Engine.
For those that were able to get an account with Google App Engine they will be able to create web applications that use up to 500Mb of persistent storage and that generate less than 5 million pageviews/month. When Google App Engine will be generally available (in the future...) any developer will be able to start with the free "version", and as their application grows they can purchase additional computing resources.

This preview release of Google App Engine actually contains two sections: a hosting environment that uses the Google infrastructure (same thing Google uses for its services) and that is built for highly trafficked web applications, and a Google App Engine SDK that you can use to develop a web application. So even if the free hosting accounts were all given (those 10,000) this doesn't mean you cannot start creating your application using the SDK - it can be downloaded here: Google App Engine SDK.

Ok this targets developers, but how does this benefit the normal user, one that does think of a snake when hearing about Python? Well luckily Google made available a section of web applications that use the Google App Engine SDK, which can be accessed here: Google App Engine gallery. While I doubt any of those have reached the 5 million pageviews/month mark, right now there are only a few applications in there, and most of them either reinvent the wheel or simply don't work. A few examples:

  • Vorby - everything movie-quote-related, you can add quotes, search for quotes, rate/comment/mark inaccurate. Useful if you're trying to find out where a thing like "This is Sparta" everybody talks about was said. Of course many other sites such as IMDB offer this service too.

  • Huddlechat - it's similar to Campfire (actually "too" similar), so a way to chat with multiple people and share things (code snippets, images, links, files) supposedly a way to ease project management.

  • gCrush - I'm not sure if this application is a joke or they had some problems, because it returns an invalid page. It was supposed to be a dating site for Google users...


Similar projects are offered by Amazon (S3) and SalesForce (AppExchange), only these require payment. Given its close relation with SalesForce, I would say Google is up to something and I can bet that this year they'll do a major purchase (well beside Doubleclick). Or maybe this is the kernel for a future online Google Operating System.

Apr 7, 2008

Google Talk Labs edition launched

Google Talk Labs edition was released and it seems to offer about the same functionality of the Google Talk gadget, except that it will install and run on your computer, outside the browser. I said almost the same functionality as the Gootle Talk gadget, because the Labs Edition also shows Google Calendar appointments, Orkut scraps, Gmail messages and Google Talk chats. Nice is indeed the fact that you can snooze the calendar event, though it would be useful to choose for how many minutes to snooze the event (by default it delays the reminder for 5 minutes).

For now, the usefulness of this application is the reminders, but if these will be added directly into Google Talk (which only shows Gmail alerts, meaning snippets of emails coming in) then there's really no need of installing it too. Google Talk is the instant messenger, and if you don't want to install it you can use the instant messaging feature through the Google Talk gadget (non-labs edition). So the Labs Edition (if you don't have already headaches) is something in between that lets you bring Google Calendar into the loop.

Google Analytics AIR reporting suite

Google Analytics Reporting suite is an Adobe AIR application that allows you to access the Google Analytics account from your desktop (and not by visiting the Google Analytics website). Just as there is an Adwords Editor that you can install on your computer and access the Google Adwords account, you can use the Google Analytics Reporting suite to access the Google Analytics account - however, the difference is that the latter is not developed by Google, it is developed by Nicolas, a developer that has no connection with Google.

First things first, what is Adobe AIR? Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR) is a runtime environment for building Internet applications (using Adobe Flash, Adobe Flex, HTML and Ajax) that can be installed as desktop programs. We won't get into much details, except from the users' point of view. In order to be able to open and use Adobe AIR applications (that have an .air extension) you need to install a free AIR runtime from Adobe, using this link: Get Adobe AIR. It's just like when you needed to install a Flash plugin for your browser to be able to see Flash animations.

Once Adobe AIR is installed, you can download the Google Analytics AIR Reporting Suite from Nicolas' website: Google Analytics beta 3.air
Once downloaded double-click on it and you'll see Adobe AIR already prompting and guiding you through the installation. First you'll need to acknowledge that this is an unsigned application so click on Install if you want to continue:


Next set up the location where this will be installed and choose to add or not a shortcut and start it after installation:


To my surprise the overall installation process took very little. After it's installed you'll see already the interface of Google Analytics Reporting Suite, prompting you to add a profile (your Google Analytics information). Once the profiled is added and loaded you can see already your dashboard, only this time is not via the browser but via this Adobe AIR application. Basically you have pretty much the same information that Google Analytics offers, except that is organized a little bit different.

The advantage of using this over the regular Google Analytics is that you're doing it from your desktop, not going through your browser and logging in. Plus, as you click on different reports from your dashboard those will open as separate tabs so you can access them quite easy (a feature that would be nice if Google would implement). Creating reports as PDF, XML or CSV is possible with it too, furthermore these are opened in the same window (different tab though) of the Google Analytics Reporting Suite application.


This application is free for now, but I've seen they intend to add some paid editions too (with extra features I assume). If you're like me and prefer to have access to information like this without opening your browser, I suggest you give it a go.

Apr 6, 2008

Find a hotel using this Google Maps application

Map Channels Hotels Directory is a clever web application that uses Google Maps to show you the location of specific hotels. Not only this, but it also allows you to do a search for hotels in a specific city (not limited to US), and see if there are any rooms available, see the price per night, see their address as well as detailed information about each hotel, and finally lets you rate or see ratings done by others.

After the search is done you can see under the main view the list of hotels that it found, along with their price/night, guest rating and their address:

From the hotels list view you can either click on a listing to see its detailed information (description, picture, and the location on Google Maps) or when doing the search you can choose in the List Format to show the Detailed information:

The hotel directory gathers information from four separate hotel suppliers, and as I mentioned earlier you can search for cities outside US too.

Apr 5, 2008

Google mysteries - why the extra space in SERP url?

When doing a search on Google that returns results with long urls, you'll see an extra space added to the url shown by Google under the description for that listing (the green url). Why that's added there is still a mistery, even since this is been going on since as early as 2003. What's even more of a mistery is that Google doesn't add that space in the SERP url always. I was able to reproduce this by using two different browsers, Maxthon and Opera.
Space added in SERP url (using Opera):


Same search, space is missing in SERP url (using Maxthon):



The fact that the space is added or not might depend not on the browser used by on the localization (using Opera might "confused" Google of where I was browsing the web from). The question still remains, why is that space added? One of the answers I came up with is that it's doing that to prevent screen scraping. Screen scraping is a technique used by some computer programs to extract the visible text from another program's output, in this case the Google search results page. Screen scraping is also used by some SEO computer programs to see how you rank for particular searches, so maybe that's what Google is trying to prevent.

However this does not happen for short urls, so this theory doesn't really stand. So another possible explanation is that is doing this so that if you're browsing using a smaller screen (mobile browsing for instance) the url wraps after that space so the "green" url is displayed on two rows in a better way (designwise).
We'll never know for sure why that happens, but this isn't implemented in Yahoo's search engine or Microsoft's Live one (if the url is longer both simply trim it and just display ..., same thing what Google does if the url exceeds 180 characters).

Google's "Related searches" feature still needs work

Whenever you do a search for a popular keyword Google will display up to 8 related searches at the end of the search results. For a while now Google is been testing the display of the Related searches at the top of the search results, but only if for the keyword you searched it has more than 8 suggestions (related searches). For instance, searching for the word backup you'll see at the top of the search results 4 Related searches.

Google displays those based on popularity and search habits. Scrolling down at the end of the search results you'll see all 8 Related searches that Google found.
Now, Google shows those at the top only if there are more than 8 related searches, but since this feature is yet not final there are still cases when the related searches are not shown at the top even if at the bottom there are 8 related searches shown - the case of searching for the keyword games.

When I say the feature is not yet ready I based the assumption on:
- the display of the 4 most popular related searches at the top of the search results is not final, because Google also tests if this would affect possitivelly user's search experience (see the first screenshot I took, you can see that the related searches are placed right under the ad, so the user might be confused if that's part of the ad or not)
- the related searches need some filtering, even if SafeSearch is off. An example is the fact that when you do a search for buy, you'll see some surprising related searches, such as buy guns and buy steroids

Whether this will remain as is or changes will be made, remains to be seen.

Apr 4, 2008

Clinton, Obama or McCain - Let Google decide!

Google Trends lets you compare up to five terms to see how often they've been searched on Google over a specific period of time. When no special searches are done, Google Trends also shows how frequently the terms appeared in Google News and also splits the popularity of these searches by geographic regions. So what does Google Trends show when it comes to compare the number of searches done for Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain?

This graph contains data for the last 12 months, and was restricted to US only. Leaving politics aside, Google Trends is a great tool especially for search engine marketers - this is because it lets you see the popularity of a particular term, and also to compare up to five terms to see which one has more searches than the other. Not sure if to optimize for sitemap or site map? See what Google Trends says. Of course that in order to see any data for the search/comparison, the terms have to have a certain popularity.

Other interesting features that Google Trends offers:

  • you can put the terms with quotes to see the trend for that specific term (just like when you want to do an exact search), though in this case you will not see the news search part

  • you can use the "-" sign to exclude a specific word from the searches. Say you want to search for sitemap but don't want to include the searches that included the word google you would put in sitemap-google

  • you can use the "|" sign as the OR operator. Say you want to see the trends for searches that were done for either sitemap OR google, you would put in sitemap | google.

  • don't kow what to blog about? You can see which searches are Hot in this particular day right on the main page of Google Trends. The Hot Trends are updated daily.


Fun but useful tool isn't it? However, if you want to use it for more serious things make sure you realize the data is approximated, and as they say it:
The data Google Trends produces may contain inaccuracies for a number of reasons, including data-sampling issues and a variety of approximations that Trends makes use of. We hope you find this service interesting and entertaining, but you probably don't want to write your Ph.D