Your fast pass through security

Security checks are nobody’s cup of tea. We’ve never seen people go through airport baggage checks for fun. But while security measures are often necessary, that doesn’t mean they have to be painful. In that spirit, we’ve implemented several major improvements to make the Google Site Verification process faster, more straightforward, and perhaps even a pleasure to use—so you can get on with the tasks that matter to you.
You’ll quickly notice the changes we’ve made to the verification page, namely the new tabbed interface. These tabs allow us to give greater visibility to the verification method that we think will be most useful to you, which is listed in the Recommended Method tab.
Our recommendation is just an educated guess, but sometimes guesses can be wrong. It’s possible that the method we recommend might not work for you. If this is the case, simply click the “Alternate methods” tab to see the other verification methods that are available. Verifying with an alternate method is just as powerful as verifying with a recommended method.

Our recommendations are computed from statistical data taken from users with a similar configuration to yours. For example, we can guess which verification methods might be successful by looking at the public hosting information for your website. In the future we plan to add more signals so that we can provide additional customized instructions along with more relevant recommendations.

New Google Sites are automatically verified
for some of you, we’ve made the process even more effortless—Google Sites administrators are now automatically verified for all new sites that they create. When you create a new Google Site, it’ll appear verified in the details page. The same goes for adding or removing owners: when you edit the owners list in your Google Site’s settings, the changes will automatically appear in Webmaster Tools.

One thing to note is that we’re unable to automatically verify preexisting Google Sites at this time. If you’d like to verify your older Google Sites, please continue to use the meta tag method already available.
We hope these enhancements help get you through security even faster. Should you get pulled over and have any questions, feel free to check out our Webmaster Help Forums.

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An update on Google Video: Finding an easier way to migrate Google Video content to YouTube

Last week we sent an email to Google Video users letting them know we would be ending playbacks of Google Videos on April 29 and providing instructions on how to download videos currently hosted on the platform. Since then we’ve received feedback from you about making the migration off of Google Video easier. We work every day to make sure you have a great user experience and should have done better. Based on your feedback, here’s what we’re doing to fix things.

Google Video users can rest assured that they won’t be losing any of their content and we are eliminating the April 29 deadline. We will be working to automatically migrate your Google Videos to YouTube. In the meantime, your videos hosted on Google Video will remain accessible on the web and existing links to Google Videos will remain accessible. If you want to migrate to YouTube now, here’s how you do it:

* We’ve created an “Upload Videos to YouTube” option on the Google Video status page. To do this, you’ll need to have a YouTube account associated with your Google Video account (you can create one here). Before doing this you should read YouTube’s Terms of Use and Copyright Policies. If you choose this option, we’ll do our best to ensure your existing Google Video links continue to function.
If you’d prefer to download your videos from Google Video, that option is still available.

As we said nearly two years ago, the team is now focused on tackling the tough challenge of video search. We want to thank the millions of people around the world who have taken the time to create and share videos on Google Video. We hope today’s improvements will help ease your transition to another video hosting service.

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Review: In The Plex, by Steven Levy

Steven Levy just wrote a new book about Google called In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives. It succeeds the most on the “how Google thinks” part–if you want to understand how Google thinks, get an overview of Google, or understand its impact on the world, this is the book for you.

I think anyone interested in Google would enjoy this book. People who don’t know much about Google will get a good overview. People who are really interested in Google or the search industry will get a better understanding of how Google thinks. And even if you’re an expert, you’ll probably learn a few new tidbits. For example, Levy reveals the identity of GoogleGuy, the Google representative who answered questions from webmasters as early as 2001. You’ll also hear about inside-Google allusions like Audrey Fino or Emerald Sea.

Given that Levy isn’t a computer scientist or a Googler, I wasn’t sure how deftly he would internalize or explain how Google looks at the world, but for the most part he nails it. The book, like many accounts of Google, emphasizes the company’s focus on making decisions based on data and logic. At some points I felt that Levy pushed this point too hard. On the other hand, I recently had a conversation with a Google colleague about Lady Gaga, and the word “scalability” cropped up a lot more than you would expect for a conversation about a pop star. I don’t think Google is full of purely left-brained eggheads, but I’m willing to concede that compared to the average population, we probably skew further in that direction than most places.

Reading the book, I realized how much you could write about the different facets of Google. Even in 400+ pages, some topics get short shrift; it felt like Levy covered Google News in a single, condensed paragraph. But Levy gives complete and clear explanations for the parts of Google that receive his focus.

Here’s a simple litmus test: if you’ve read more than 2-3 of my blog posts in the past or follow me on Twitter, you’ll probably enjoy reading In The Plex.