Our 2011 EMEA Faculty Summit

Earlier this month, we held our fourth Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Faculty Summit at our Zurich office, Google’s largest engineering center in the region. This was EMEA’s biggest Faculty Summit to date, with some of EMEA’s foremost computer science academics (103, to be exact) from 73 universities representing 28 countries, plus more than 60 Googlers in attendance. Over the course of three days, participants chose from 48 different sessions, technical streams and tech talks (given by both Googlers and academics) that covered a variety of computer science topics including privacy, software engineering and natural language processing.

The Faculty Summit is a chance for us to meet with computer science academics to discuss operations, regional projects and ways we can collaborate via our our university programs. These programs include our Focused Research Awards, which, to date, are nearing €3.7 million with recent awards in Europe given to researchers exploring privacy, fact discovery, test amplification, optimization and security, among other topics. We also have an academic research initiative to understand market algorithms and auctions, the Google European Doctoral Fellowship and the general research awards program.

This year’s jam-packed agenda included a welcome address by Yossi Matias, senior director and head of Google’s Israel Research and Development Center, covering Google’s engineering activity and recent innovations in EMEA; a presentation by Alfred Spector, vice president of research and special initiatives, on our approach to research and innovation; and a presentation by Nelson Mattos, vice president of EMEA product and engineering, on exciting developments and opportunities in Africa and the Middle East. David Konerding presented Google’s Exacyclefor Visiting Faculty, a grant program for high-performance, CPU-intensive computing where we’ll award up to 10 qualified researchers with at least 100 million computing core-hours each, for a total of 1 billion core-hours. Professor Claudia Eckert, a guest visiting from the Technical University of Munich, gave an insightful presentation on security, privacy and the future of the internet.

Reference link:http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/05/our-2011-emea-faculty-summit.html

A rel=canonical corner case

I answered an interesting rel=canonical question over email today and thought I’d blog about it. If you’re not familiar with rel=canonical read these pages first. Then watch this video about rel=canonical vs. 301s, especially the second half:

Okay, I sometimes get a question about whether Google will always use the url from rel=canonical as the preferred url. The answer is that we take rel=canonical urls as a strong hint, but in some cases we won’t use them:
– For example, if we think you’re shooting yourself in the foot by accident (pointing a rel=canonical toward a non-existent/404 page), we’d reserve the right not to use the destination url you specify with rel=canonical.
– Another example where we might not go with your rel=canonical preference: if we think your website has been hacked and the hacker added a malicious rel=canonical. I recently tweeted about that case. On the “bright” side, if a hacker can control your website enough to insert a rel=canonical tag, they usually do far more malicious things like insert malware, hidden or malicious links/text, etc.

I wanted to talk today about another case in which we won’t use rel=canonical. First off, here’s a thought exercise: should Google trust rel=canonical if we see it in the body of the HTML? The answer is no, because some websites let people edit content or HTML on pages of the site. If Google trusted rel=canonical in the HTML body, we’d see far more attacks where people would drop a rel=canonical on part of a web page to try to hijack it.

Okay, so now we come to another corner case where we probably won’t trust a rel=canonical: if we see weird stuff in your HEAD section. For example, if you start to insert regular text or other tags that we normally only see in the BODY of HTML into the HEAD of a document, we may assume that someone just forgot to close the HEAD section. We don’t allow rel=canonical in the BODY (because as I mentioned, people would spam that), so we might not trust rel=canonical in those cases, especially if it comes after the regular text or tags that we normally only see in the BODY of a page.

But in general, as long as your HEAD looks fairly normal, things should be fine. If you really want to be safe, you can make sure that the rel=canonical is the first or one of the first things in the HEAD section. Again, things should be fine either way, but if you want an easy rule of thumb: put the rel=canonical toward the top of the HEAD.

Reference link:http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/rel-canonical-html-head/

YouTube highlights 5/26

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

One busy six-year-old
The first video posted on YouTube.com was a 19-second video called Me at the Zoo. Six years later, more than 48 hours of video are uploaded every single minute, representing a 100% increase over last year alone. As YouTube continues to grow, we’re invested in bringing you more content, innovative tools and an increasingly effective platform to tell your stories. Read more about the past six years of YouTube on our blog.

Interviews in outer space
Last Thursday, Space Shuttle Endeavour and International Space Station astronauts answered questions submitted by YouTube fans during their first live interview from space shuttle STS-134. The astronauts answered questions ranging from social media and new technology to the challenges of leaving family behind—and they even performed a group somersault. Watch the full interview presented by PBS on YouTube.

Caps, gowns and pearls of wisdom
Graduation season is here, which means lots of commencement speeches. YouTube houses a vast repository of commencement addresses, and through YouTube EDU, colleges and universities have uploaded more than 1,600 videos to their own channels. Pick up some sage advice by checking out these star-studded commencement speeches.

The value of views
We announced a change to the way advertisers pay for Promoted Video ads on YouTube. Rather than paying on a per click basis, we’ll move this ad format to a cost-per-view (CPV) basis, meaning advertisers only pay when viewers click on their ad and watch the featured video. We hope CPV formats help to better align video ads with advertisers’ goals of driving trackable video viewership. Read more here.

This week in trends
Here are two of our favorite videos this week:

  • One of the most shared videos of the past week has been this proposal via movie theatre trailer, a now famous engagement before a screening of Fast Five. See for yourself why this video has gotten more than 13 million views in just over a week!

The latest Google Chrome ad starring Lady Gaga had a strong showing, with over 1 million views in six days.

Reference link:http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/05/youtube-highlights-526.html

Inside the Big Tent

At our European Zeitgeist event, held annually near London, we traditionally erect a large marquee for a partner dinner and entertainment. This year we wondered if there was anything else we could do with the space once Zeitgeist was over. In that instant, the Big Tent was born.

Canvas aside, the term “big tent” has, of course, a political connotation. Wikipedia defines it as “seeking to attract people with diverse viewpoints…does not require adherence to some ideology as a criterion for membership.” That just about sums up the idea behind last week’s Big Tent conference, which focused on debating some of the hot issues relating to the internet and society.

We invited the advocacy groups Privacy International and Index on Censorship—both of whom have criticised Google in the past—to partner with us in staging the debates, and sought diverse viewpoints among the speakers and the delegates.

Topics on the agenda included: what was the role of technology in the revolutions in the Middle East? What are the limits of free speech online? Do we need tougher privacy laws or are we in danger of stifling innovation? Can technology and access to information be used to help prevent conflict?

The result was a stimulating day of debate featuring the likes of Big Brother television producer Peter Bazalgette, Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts and the U.K. Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt alongside Googlers including Eric Schmidt, Google Ideas’ Jared Cohen and the Egyptian activist Wael Ghonim, and a highly engaged and knowledgeable audience of NGOs, policy advisers, tech businesses and journalists.

You can watch highlights on YouTube and see event feedback on Twitter. We hope to bring the Big Tent to other regions over the coming year.

Reference link:http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/05/inside-big-tent.html

Hacking for humanity in Silicon Valley and around the globe

Two years ago representatives from Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, Hewlett-Packard, NASA and the World Bank came together to form the Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) program. The idea was simple: technology can and should be used for good. RHoK brings together subject matter experts, volunteer software developers and designers to create open source and technology agnostic software solutions that address challenges facing humanity. On June 4-5, 2011 we’ll hold the third Random Hacks of Kindness global event at five U.S. locations and 13 international sites, giving local developer communities the opportunity to collaborate on problems in person.

The RHoK community has already developed some applications focused on crisis response such as I’mOK, a mobile messaging application for disaster response that was used on the ground in Haiti and Chile; and CHASM, a visual tool to map landslide risk currently being piloted by the World Bank in landslide affected areas in the Caribbean. Person Finder, a tool created by Google’s crisis response team to help people find friends and loved ones after a natural disaster, was also refined at RHoK events and effectively deployed in Haiti, Chile and Japan.

We’re inviting all developers, designers and anyone else who wants to help “hack for humanity,” to attend one of the local events on June 4-5. There, you’ll meet other open source developers, work with experts in disaster and climate issues and contribute code to exciting projects that make a difference. If you’re in Northern California, come join us at the Silicon Valley RHoK event at Google headquarters.

And if you’re part of an organization that works in the fields of crisis response or climate change, you can submit a problem definition online, so that developers and volunteers can work on developing technology to address the challenge.

Reference link:http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/05/hacking-for-humanity-in-silicon-valley.html

Troubleshooting Instant Previews in Webmaster Tools

In November, we launched Instant Previews to help users better understand if a particular result was relevant for their search query. Since launch, our Instant Previews team has been keeping an eye on common complaints and problems related to how pages are rendered for Instant Previews.

When we see issues with preview images, they are frequently due to:

  • Blocked resources due to a robots.txt entry
  • Cloaking: Erroneous content being served to the Googlebot user-agent
  • Poor alternative content when Flash is unavailable

To help webmasters diagnose these problems, we have a new Instant Preview tool in the Labs section of Webmaster Tools (in English only for now).

Reference link:http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2011/05/troubleshooting-instant-previews-in.html

Making financial comparisons easy with Google Advisor

Financial decisions may be some of the most difficult decisions we face—whether it’s finding the right credit card or understanding the impact of paying an extra point on a mortgage. And these days, it seems like we have more financial options than ever.

To help solve these problems, we began testing a mortgage comparison tool in 2009 and have added other financial products such as credit cards, CDs, checking, and savings accounts. Today, we’re rolling these tools into one place: Google Advisor, a site designed to help you quickly find relevant financial products from many providers and compare them side-by-side. Google Advisor is currently only available in the U.S.

With Google Advisor, you enter information about what you’re looking for in a mortgage, credit card, CD, or checking and savings account. We show you a list of the offers that match your criteria, along with rates and contact information. Google Advisor is designed especially to help you make these difficult financial decisions easily, with:

  • Speed: As you change your criteria, the results update instantly. You’ll still have a list of all your options in one place, so you can quickly compare different offers.
  • Trust: By setting your own search criteria, you’re able to see only those offers and rates that apply to you, which means you can compare applicable offers without even contacting a provider first.
  • Control: You only need to provide the minimum amount of information we need to show you offers that are right for you. You have full control over what you want to share, and which providers you choose to talk to—and you don’t have to submit any personal information until you’ve decided you’re ready to move forward.

For more information on how Google works with these financial providers, please visit our Help Center.

If you’re looking for a mortgage, a new credit card, or just want to see if your savings account gives you the best interest rate, we hope Google Advisor helps you easily make the decision that’s right for you!


Easier URL removals for site owners

We recently made a change to the Remove URL tool in Webmaster Tools to eliminate the requirement that the webpage’s URL must first be blocked by a site owner before the page can be removed from Google’s search results. Because you’ve already verified ownership of the site, we can eliminate this requirement to make it easier for you, as the site owner, to remove unwanted pages (e.g. pages accidentally made public) from Google’s search results.

Removals persist for at least 90 days
When a page’s URL is requested for removal, the request is temporary and persists for at least 90 days. We may continue to crawl the page during the 90-day period but we will not display it in the search results. You can still revoke the removal request at any time during those 90 days. After the 90-day period, the page can reappear in our search results, assuming you haven’t made any other changes that could impact the page’s availability.

Permanent removal
In order to permanently remove a URL, you must ensure that one of the following page blocking methods is implemented for the URL of the page that you want removed:

  • indicate that the page no longer exists by returning a 404 or 410 HTTP status code
  • block the page from crawling via a robots.txt file
  • block the page from indexing via a noindex meta tag

This will ensure that the page is permanently removed from Google’s search results for as long as the page is blocked. If at any time in the future you remove the previously implemented page blocking method, we may potentially re-crawl and index the page. For immediate and permanent removal, you can request that a page be removed using the Remove URL tool and then permanently block the page’s URL before the 90-day expiration of the removal request.

Reference link:http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2011/05/easier-url-removals-for-site-owners.html

Google I/O 2011!!1!

This week brings the Google I/O conference. That page has a QR code that lets you install the official Google I/O Android app for the conference.

The conference has a ton of great talks scheduled. You can learn everything from “Building Aggressively Compatible Android Games” to “Cloud Robotics” to “Designing and Implementing Android UIs for Phones and Tablets” to a Google Checkout talk to “Honeycomb Highlights” to “How to NFC,” plus a ton more. Want to hear about Python from Guido van Rossum? He’ll be there. Want to hear how the Google Pac-Man logo happened? Those folks will be there. Web Fonts? Uh huh. You can even meet the Google Ventures team for some VC speed dating.

I’ll be doing an Ignite talk at 5pm on Tuesday about “Trying Something New for 30 Days.” If you see me at Google I/O, come up and say hello!

You can also follow @googleio on Twitter, and the hash tag is #io2011.

Even if you can’t make it to Google I/O in person, a lot of the talks will be livestreamed. They just announced that the keynotes will be about Android and Chrome. I think the videos of the talks should be up fairly quickly as well: the official blog post claims “Recorded videos from all sessions across eight product tracks will be available within 24 hours after the conference.” Here’s the session videos from 2010, for example. Hope to see you at I/O!

Reference link:http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/google-io-2011/

Google Transit goes to Washington

Every day, many thousands of commuters, locals, and tourists ride public transit in Washington, D.C. To help all of these transit riders find their way around the metro area, today we’re making comprehensive information about D.C.’s public transportation available on Google Transit.

In partnership with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), we’re adding all of D.C.’s Metro and bus stations, stops and routes, as well as connections to other transit systems in nearby cities. You can find this information on Google Maps as well as Google Maps for mobile—no matter where you are, you can get to where you’re going. With Google Transit, D.C. metro-area commuters—including those in Baltimore, Montgomery and Jefferson counties—may discover a quicker route to work, while visitors can easily make their way from Reagan National Airport straight to the Smithsonian.

Public transportation is a vital part of city infrastructure and can help alleviate congestion and reduce emissions. But planning your trip on public transit can be challenging, especially when there are multiple transit agencies and you need to use information from multiple sources to figure out the best route. With mapping tools like the transit feature, we’re working to make that easier.

Directions are also available on Google Maps for mobile—so if you’re graduating from GWU and want to meet some friends in Adams Morgan to celebrate, it’s as easy as pulling out your phone. If you’re using an Android device, for example, search for [Adams Morgan] in Google Maps, click on the Places result and select “Directions.” Switch to Transit in the upper-left corner and find out which bus gets you there fastest.

Wherever your journey takes you, whether using public transit, driving, biking or walking, we hope Google Transit directions in D.C. make finding your way a little easier.

Reference link:http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/05/google-transit-goes-to-washington.html