What were we watching this year? Let’s rewind 2011

One hundred years into the future, when our great-grandkids look back to what was capturing the world’s imagination on YouTube in 2011, what will they make of us? Will they still be delighted by babbling babies? Will they still be “so excited” about the weekend? And will they be any closer to understanding the mystery of the space-traveling toaster pastry cat?

Today, we rewind through the videos and channels that absorbed our collective global attention this year. To compile these lists, we looked at global view counts of popular videos uploaded throughout this year, and, in some instances, we aggregated views across multiple versions of the same video. 2011 was a year of amazing new channels and new stars being discovered, awesome creativity, and of course, Rebecca Black. It was also a year of powerful news stories playing out on YouTube, as people witnessed and documented uprisings and natural disasters, touching personal moments and moments of protest.

In total, there were more than 1,000,000,000,000 (one trillion) playbacks on YouTube this year (yep, count ‘em, 12 zeroes). That’s about 140 views for every person on the earth. More than twice as many stars as in the Milky Way. And if I had a penny for every … OK, you get my drift, it’s a big number.

So to all of you who picked up a guitar and sang a love song, held your camera phone high above a protesting crowd, danced along to “Friday” or just forgot the webcam was on, thank you. You make YouTube what it is, and we can’t wait to hear your stories next year.

Without further ado, your most-viewed videos of 2011.

Most-viewed YouTube videos globally (excluding videos from major music labels)

Rebecca Black – Friday (OFFICIAL VIDEO)

Ultimate Dog Tease

Jack Sparrow (feat. Michael Bolton)

Talking Twin Babies – PART 2 – OFFICIAL VIDEO

Nyan Cat [original]

Look At Me Now – Chris Brown ft. Lil Wayne, Busta Rhymes (Cover by @KarminMusic)

The Creep (feat. Nicki Minaj & John Waters)

Maria Aragon – Born This Way (Cover) by Lady Gaga

The Force: Volkswagen Commercial

Cat mom hugs baby kitten

Most-viewed YouTube channels globally (excluding channels from major music labels)











Most-watched videos from major music labels globally (playlist)

Jennifer Lopez – On The Floor ft. Pitbull

LMFAO – Party Rock Anthem ft. Lauren Bennett, GoonRock

Bruno Mars – The Lazy Song [Official Video]

Nicki Minaj – Super Bass

Pitbull – Give Me Everything ft. Ne-Yo, Afrojack, Nayer

Pitbull – Rain Over Me ft. Marc Anthony

Jessie J – Price Tag ft. B.o.B.

LMFAO – Sexy and I Know It

Katy Perry – E.T. ft. Kanye West

Katy Perry – Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)

Some highlights from other categories

  • Zach Wahls Speaks About Family was the most-watched political video
  • Japan Earthquake: Helicopter aerial view video of giant tsunami waves was the most-watched news video
  • 25 Ways to Wear a Scarf in 4.5 Minutes! was the most watched “how-to” video
  • iPhone 5 Concept Features was the most-watched science/technology video
  • Immortals was the most-watched movie trailer
  • Mountain Biker gets taken out by Buck was the most-watched sports video

You can also check out the most-viewed videos of the year in fashion, beauty, sports, gaming, travel, fitness, food, science, tech reviews, family, pets and wedding proposals.

Reference link:http://www.googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/12/what-were-we-watching-this-year-lets.html

Test your creativity with our search caption challenge

Our main goal at Google Search is to bring you the most relevant and useful results as quickly as possible. But, we are aware that often that is only part of your task or journey. Sometimes, you need more than simple results. You might want to learn, to discover, to be entertained or get insights.

Insights can happen when you least expect them. To improve their chances, it’s good to try other things, or do things differently once in awhile. As a lifelong fan and connoisseur of New Yorker style cartoons, I always believed in the power of humor not just to entertain but to enlighten. I have tried to connect humor to everything I do (although, I have to admit, not always successfully). The best cartoonists possess great insights, which they illustrate in a clever package that we can consume in seconds and yet remember for years.

With all of this in mind, today we’re connecting Google search and cartoons through a search caption challenge. Cartoon caption contests have a long history dating back at least to the 1930s, as can be seen in this example I found from Ballyhoo magazine. For our modern version, we worked with artists like Matthew Diffee, Emily Flake, Christoph Niemann, Danny Shanahan and Jim Woodring, who created cartoons that place characters in unusual, interesting and funny situations—all with a common twist. In each cartoon, one of the characters is doing a Google search. We’ve left it to you to imagine what they’d be searching for at that moment, and left the caption blank for you to fill in with your answer.

To participate, go to Inside Search and submit your idea. Your caption will appear on the site, and you can share it with friends via a unique link. You can also vote on your favorite submissions and the most popular will rise to the top.

We hope this game helps you think in a way you wouldn’t otherwise, and maybe get some insights. Or just have fun.

Reference link:http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/12/test-your-creativity-with-our-search.html

New markup for multilingual content

Many websites serve users from around the world. There are different approaches to serving content appropriate to your users’ language and/or region. Last year, we launched support for explicit annotations for web pages rendering the same content with different language templates.
Today we’re going further with our support for multilingual content with improved handling for these two scenarios:

  • Multiregional websites using substantially the same content. Example: English webpages for Australia, Canada and USA, differing only in price
  • Multiregional websites using fully translated content, or substantially different monolingual content targeting different regions. Example: a product webpage in German, English and French

Specifying language and location

We’ve expanded our support of the rel=”alternate” hreflang link element to handle content that is translated or provided for multiple geographic regions. The hreflang attribute can specify the language, optionally the country, and URLs of equivalent content. By specifying these alternate URLs, our goal is to be able to consolidate signals for these pages, and to serve the appropriate URL to users in search. Alternative URLs can be on the same site or on another domain.

Annotating pages as substantially similar content

Optionally, for pages that have substantially the same content in the same language and are targeted at multiple countries, you may use the rel=”canonical” link element to specify your preferred version. We’ll use that signal to focus on that version in search, while showing the local URLs to users where appropriate. For example, you could use this if you have the same product page in German, but want to target it separately to users searching on the Google properties for Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

Example usage

To explain how it works, let’s look at some example URLs:

  • http://www.example.com/ – contains the general homepage of a website, in Spanish
  • http://es-es.example.com/ – is the version for users in Spain, in Spanish
  • http://es-mx.example.com/ – is the version for users in Mexico, in Spanish
  • http://en.example.com/ – is the generic English language version

On all of these pages, we could use the following markup to specify language and optionally the region:

<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”es” href=”http://www.example.com/” />

<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”es-ES” href=”http://es-es.example.com/” />

<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”es-MX” href=”http://es-mx.example.com/” />

<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en” href=”http://en.example.com/” />

If you specify a regional subtag, we’ll assume that you want to target that region.
Keep in mind that all of these annotations are to be used on a per-URL basis. You should take care to use the specific URL, not the homepage, for both of these link elements.

More help

As always, if you need more help correctly implementing multiregional and multilingual websites, please see our Help Center article about this topic, or ask in our Webmaster Help Forum.

Reference link:http://www.googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2011/12/new-markup-for-multilingual-content.html

Download search queries data using Python

For all the developers who have expressed interest in getting programmatic access to the search queries data for their sites in Webmaster Tools, we’ve got some good news. You can now get access to your search queries data in CSV format using a open source Python script from the webmaster-tools-downloads project. Search queries data is not currently available via the Webmaster Tools API, which has been a common API user request that we’re considering for the next API update. For those of you who need access to search queries data right now, let’s look at an example of how the search queries downloader Python script can be used to download your search queries data and upload it to a Google Spreadsheet in Google Docs.

Example usage of the search queries downloader Python script
1) If Python is not already installed on your machine, download and install Python.
2) Download and install the Google Data APIs Python Client Library.
3) Create a folder and add the downloader.py script to the newly created folder.
4) Copy the example-create-spreadsheet.py script to the same folder as downloader.py and edit it to replace the example values for “website,” “email” and “password” with valid values for your Webmaster Tools verified site.
5) Open a Terminal window and run the example-create-spreadsheet.py script by entering “python example-create-spreadsheet.py” at the Terminal window command line:

python example-create-spreadsheet.py

6) Visit Google Docs to see a new spreadsheet containing your search queries data.

If you just want to download your search queries data in a .csv file without uploading the data to a Google spreadsheet use example-simple-download.py instead of example-create-spreadsheet.py in the example above.

You could easily configure these scripts to be run daily or monthly to archive and view your search queries data across larger date ranges than the current one month of data that is available in Webmaster Tools, for example, by setting up a cron job or using Windows Task Scheduler.

An important point to note is that this script example includes user name and password credentials within the script itself. If you plan to run this in a production environment you should follow security best practices like using encrypted user credentials retrieved from a secure data storage source. The script itself uses HTTPS to communicate with the API to protect these credentials.

Take a look at the search queries downloader script and start using search queries data in your own scripts or tools. Let us know if you have questions or feedback in the Webmaster Help Forum.

Reference link:http://www.googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2011/12/download-search-queries-data-using.html

Website user research and testing on the cheap

As the team responsible for tens of thousands of Google’s informational web pages, the Webmaster Team is here to offer tips and advice based on their experiences as hands-on webmasters.

If you’ve never tested or analyzed usage of your website, ask yourself if you really know whether your site is useful for your target audience. If you’re unsure, why not find out? For example, did you know that on average users scroll down 5.9 times as often as they scroll up, meaning that often once page content is scrolled past, it is “lost?” (See Jakob Nielsen’s findings on scrolling, where he advises that users don’t mind scrolling, but within limits.)

Also, check your analytics—are you curious about high bounce rates from any of your pages, or very short time-on-page metrics?

First, think about your user

The start of a web project—whether it’s completely new or a revamp of an existing site—is a great time to ask questions like:

  • How might users access your site—home, office, on-the-go?
  • How tech-savvy are your visitors?
  • How familiar are users with the subject matter of your website?

The answers to some of these questions can be valuable when making initial design decisions.

For instance, if the user is likely to be on the road, they might be short on time to find the information they need from your site, or be in a distracting environment and have a slow data connection—so a simple layout with single purpose would work best. Additionally, if you’re providing content for a less technical audience, make sure it’s not too difficult to access content—animation might provide a “wow” factor, but only if your user appreciates it and it’s not too difficult to get to the content.

Even without testing, building a basic user profile (or “persona”) can help shape your designs for the benefit of the user—this doesn’t have to be an exhaustive biography, but just some basic considerations of your user’s behavior patterns.

Simple testing

Testing doesn’t have to be a costly operation – friends and family can be a great resource. Some pointers:

  • Sample size: Just five people can be a large enough number of users to find common problems in your layouts and navigation (see Jakob Nielsen’s article on why using a small sample size is sufficient).
  • Choosing your testers: A range of different technical ability can be useful, but be sure to only focus on trends—for example, if more than 50% of your testers have the same usability issue, it’s likely a real problem—rather than individual issues encountered.
  • Testing location: If possible, visit the user in their home and watch how they use the site—observe how he/she normally navigates the web when relaxed and in their natural environment. Remote testing is also a possibility if you can’t make it in person—we’ve heard that Google+ hangouts can be used effectively for this (find out more about using Google+ hangouts).
  • How to test: Based on your site’s goals, define 4 or 5 simple tasks to do on your website, and let the user try to complete the tasks. Ask your testers to speak aloud so you can better understand their experiences and thought processes.
  • What to test: Basic prototypes in clickable image or document format (for example, PDF) or HTML can be used to test the basic interactions, without having to build out a full site for testing. This way, you can test out different options for navigation and layouts to see how they perform before implementing them.
  • What not to test: Focus on functionality rather than graphic design elements; viewpoints are often subjective. You would only get useful feedback on design from quantitative testing with large (200+) numbers of users (unless, for example, the colors you use on your site make the content unreadable, which would be good feedback!). One format for getting some useful feedback on the design can be to offer 5-6 descriptive keywords and ask your user to choose the most representative ones.

Overall, basic testing is most useful for seeing how your website’s functionality is working—the ease of finding information and common site interactions.

Lessons learned

In case you’re still wondering whether it’s really worth research and testing, here are a few simple things we confirmed from actual users that we wouldn’t have known if we hadn’t sat with actual users and watched them use our pages, or analyzed our web traffic.

  • Take care when using layouts that hide/show content: We found when using scripts to expand and collapse long text passages, the user often didn’t realize the extra content was available—effectively “hiding” the JavaScript-rendered content when the user searches within the page (for example, using Control + F, which we’ve seen often).
  • Check your language: Headings, link and button text are what catches the user’s eye the most when scanning the page. Avoid using “Learn more…” in link text—users seem averse to clicking on a link which implies they will need to learn something. Instead, just try to use a literal description of what content the user will get behind the link—and make sure link text makes sense and is easy to understand out of context, because that is often how it will be scanned. Be mindful about language and try to make button text descriptive, inviting and interesting.
  • Test pages on a slower connection: Try out your pages using different networks (for example, try browsing your website using the wifi at your local coffee shop or a friend’s house), especially if your target users are likely to be viewing your pages from a home connection that’s not as fast as your office network. We found a considerable improvement in CTR and time-on-site metrics in some cases when we made scripted animations much simpler and faster (hint: use Google’s Page Speed Online to check performance if you don’t have access to a slower Internet connection).

So if you’re caught up in a seemingly never-ending redevelopment cycle, save yourself some time in the future by investing a little up front through user profiling and basic testing, so that you’re more likely to choose the right approach for your site layout and architecture.

Reference link:http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2011/12/website-user-research-and-testing-on.html

Make your own online scrapbook with 2011 green search trends

Last week we unveiled this year’s Zeitgeist, including the fastest rising searches in 2011. Those of us on the Google Green team were pleased that the search trends include several popular searches related to the environment (as you can see from the highlights video). So we created the Green Scrapbook to help you explore these green trends, choose your favorites, and reveal videos and surprising facts about them. As you click around, you create your very own collection of what green meant to you this year, which you can personalize with your name and share with your friends.

People have already started creating and sharing their Green Scrapbook. For example, Adam created one showcasing a video of a tapir (Belize’s endangered “mountain cow”) and highlighting what an LED light is. I created my scrapbook, too, where I could tell people about the microorganisms that light up Puerto Rico’s famous “bioluminescent bay.” I also let people know that if I could win an eco-friendly car, I’d choose a Tesla (there’s still time to get me one for Christmas!).

Once you complete your own scrapbook, you can share it on Google+ or anywhere you’d like by grabbing the unique URL to your scrapbook with the “get URL” link at the top right.

We’re working hard to create a better web that’s also better for the environment. We hope the Green Scrapbook sparks conversation and gets people thinking about all the ways they can make greener choices in their lives—whether it’s about the merits of rooftop [solar energy], or prompting people to think about [garbage islands] and then reach for a [reusable water bottle].

Reference link:http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/12/make-your-own-online-scrapbook-with.html

Rich Snippets Instructional Videos

When users come to Google, they have a pretty good idea of what they’re looking for, but they need help deciding which result might have the information that best suits their needs. So, the challenge for Google is to make it very clear to our users what content exists on a page in both a useful and concise manner. That’s why we have rich snippets.

Essentially, rich snippets provide you with the ability to help Google highlight aspects of your page. Whether your site contains information about products, recipes, events or apps, a few simple additions to your markup can result in more engagement with your content — and potentially more traffic to your site.

To help you get started or fine tune your rich snippets, we’ve put together a series of tutorial videos for webmasters of all experience levels. These videos provide guidance as you mark up your site so that Google is better able to understand your content. We can use that content to power the rich snippets we display for your pages. Check out the videos below to get started:

Reference link:http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2011/12/rich-snippets-instructional-videos.html

Google Apps highlights – 12/16/2011

The elves got an early jump on the holidays this year by leaving us some surprises in Google Apps over the last few weeks. Sharing from Gmail got a whole lot easier, and Google Calendar can make better use of precious screen space. We also have 10 new Google Apps customer stories to share from the tens of thousands that have gone Google in recent weeks.

Gmail gets more social

Last week we sprinkled a touch of Google+ into Gmail, making it easier to connect and share with people from your inbox. You can add people to circles right from an email thread through Gmail’s people widget, share photo attachments with friends and family on Google+ without leaving Gmail, and view a filtered version of your inbox only showing messages from people in your circles. We also improved Gmail’s address book by incorporating contact information shared by your friends, family and colleagues in their Google+ profiles.

New features in the Gmail iOS app

Just yesterday we added several new improvements to the Gmail app for iOS 4+. Now you can set up a custom email signature for mobile messages, manage your vacation responder, and view nested labels from your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. We also added scribbles, a fun way to spice up messages by adding a quick hand-drawn sketch. You can create scribbles using a range of colors, brush sizes, lines, erasers and spray paints from your touchscreen device.

More free calls right from Gmail
Last year we introduced free domestic calling in Gmail within the U.S. and Canada, and we’re extending this free service for the whole year of 2012. We’re happy to help you keep in touch with those special people in your life, for free.

Hide morning and night hours in Calendar
If you don’t often have appointments early in the morning or late at night, a new trick in Google Calendar might be useful. Now you can hide morning and night hours, leaving more screen real estate for the times of day when most of your events take place. Give it a try in Calendar Labs.

Who’s gone Google?
Businesses and schools are switching to Google Apps in droves these days. From tiny startups to large enterprises and nonprofits to college campuses, we love hearing the inspiring stories that our customers share. Here’s a new batch of stories for your reading pleasure: TripIt, IPSEN, Ebby Halliday, Ticket River, VigLink, HeyZap, The Great Books Foundation, Utah K-12 schools, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and UC Santa Cruz. Welcome one and all!

For more details and the latest news, check out the Google Apps Blog, and keep an eye out for this series here after the holidays. We launched more than 150 improvements to Google Apps in 2011, and we have a ton more in store for 2012!

Reference link:http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/12/google-apps-highlights-12162011.html