:::: MENU ::::
Posts tagged with: Google

9 Tips to Make the Most of Google Search

This article was originally written by me for a newsletter that is mostly consumed by non-techie business audience. You may know most of the search techniques that are described in this article. I have not been able to cover everything due to word limitation. If I have missed something interesting, do share it in comments section.

Often times we are searching on the web for various things and we get frustrated when we don’t get to our intended result fast. We switch our default search engine from Google to Yahoo and then Yahoo to Bing but the end result stays the same. Most of the search engines that exists today gives you near identical results and they are all equally good (Ok, maybe Google is a little better…), but other than the difference in Look n’ feel and speed, all the major engines follow the same underlying architecture that indexes the world wide web so that you can find everything at your fingertips.

Everyone knows how to search the web, its simple – we type in a word or a phrase and we get the result. But I’m going to share some of my personal web search tips for Google that gets me results much faster!

Write your search phrase naturally

Most of the search engines today can process natural language better than you think. So when you are searching for a direct answer, you should type in the question as it comes to your mind. E.g. What is the Capital of Netherlands? or What is the distance between earth and moon?

capital of netherlands google search

Search for Information from a Specific Site

Sometimes we want to get a piece of information out from a specific site quickly without visiting numerous doorway pages to do so. The operator “site:” works really well on those cases. By defining a “site:domain.com” at the end of your search phrase, you are telling Google to look for the information exactly on that particular website and nowhere else. For example, If you are looking for the 1-800 number of DHL simply search for – 1-800 site:dhl.com and it will directly show you the number in your search results page.

1-800 dhl google search

Continue Reading


Google’s Holiday Gift: $20 Million To Charity

google-holiday-logoEvery year Google sends out holiday gifts to their Adwords & Adsense users. However this year, I received an email from Google instead. It reads like below:

As we near the end of the year, we wanted to take a moment to thank you for the time, energy, commitment, and trust you’ve shared with us in 2009. With sharing in mind, this year we’ve decided to do something a little different. We hope you’ll find it fits the spirit of the holiday season. We’re looking forward to working with you to build lasting success in 2010.
Happy Holidays,
Your Google Team

When I clicked on the link, I was taken to a landing page which stated that Google is giving away $20 million to charity this year. The page also acknowledges the charity organizations that are going to receive this massive fund.

Well too bad, I was expecting something nice from Google this year. Previously they have sent out Google goody bag (t-shirt, mug & stickers), Digital photo frame and even a Google Fridge to some of their AdSense publishers & premium Adwords client.

But then again I am happy that they have used the money for charity instead. Good Job Google & Happy Holidays to you too!


Google Browser Size – Web Usability Tool

google-browser-size If you are a web designer or developer, you are definitely going to appreciate this tool that google has came up with – Google Browser Size.

What is Google Browser Size?

Google Browser Size is a web usability tool that will help you understand how your visitors view your website. According to the official Google blog, It is completely based on a sample of data from visitors of google.com. A special code automatically collects data on the height and width of all the browser that is used to view Google for a sample of users.

For any given website, the tool will be able to tell you what percentage of users can see it like how you have designed it and so on. For instance, if a very important message or button is in the 80% region it means that 20% of users who have a different setting/screen size will need to scroll in order to see the message. If you’re a web designer or a developer, you can use this cool new tool to redesign your page so that you can minimize scrolling and make sure that the important parts of the page are always prominent to your site visitors.

How to use Google Browser Size ?

Using Google Browser size is pretty straightforward. Simply visit: http://browsersize.googlelabs.com and type in a URL in at the top of the screen, and within few seconds Google browser size will load your specified webpage in the background. It will then overlay a semi-transparent graphic depicting how much of the web’s population can view each section of your page without scrolling.

Here is a example of my site in Google Browser Size:

saad-kamal-browser-size

Very Interesting tool indeed! I’d like this to be a part of Google Analytics so that I can actually see what my visitor’s are seeing rather than relying on Google’s own sample of google.com.

More discussions on Techcrunch & Techmeme.


URL Shortener by Google – Goo.gl

After facebook just launched their url shortener, Google has also joined the party with their own version of URL shortener – Goo.gl.

The Google URL shortener currently doesn’t work as stand-alone service as you can’t use it to shorten links directly (like you do with bit.ly). However Google URL Shortener is available from the Google Toolbar and FeedBurner. If the service proves useful, Google says that they may eventually make it available for a wider audience in the future.

How To Share Pages using Gog.gl?

Sharing pages using Google toolbar is very easy. If your browser already has Google toolbar installed you should see a new green share button (very similar to the shareaholic icon.

google-toolbar-share

The Google share option gives you a long list of social websites where you would usually share content (e.g. twitter, facebook, digg and so on). So basically if you use the Google’s toolbar share function to share something, it will automatically use Google’s URL shortener to share the link. However, I have to say that this isn’t working for me for some reason but it looks like others are using it successfully. So give it a try!

Now why should you use Google’s URL Shortener rather than other similar services like tinyurl or bit.ly? Google in their official blog explains 3 major benefits of using their URL shortener:

Stability:Google’s scalable, multi-datacenter infrastructure provides great uptime and a reliable service to our users.

Security: As Google does it with their web search, shortened URLs are automatically checked to detect sites that may be malicious and warn users when the short URL resolves to such sites.

Speed: Google loves fast products and they have worked hard to ensure this service is quick. We’ll continue to iterate and improve the speed of Google Url Shortener.

Read what others are saying about Goo.gl:

Bit.ly Just Got Fu.kd: Facebook And Google Get Into The Short URL Game – Techcrunch

Introducing Google’s Own URL Shortener – Search Engine Journal

Just What the World Needs: Google Introduces Goo.gl URL Shortener – PC World

Goo.gl: Google Launches a URL Shortener, Too- Mashable


Google Bites on 72% of US Search Market

Hitwise has recently released the search market share report for United States. It looks like Google had a pretty steady month with 1% increase in market share, making them number 1 again with almost 72% overall US search market share in November 2009.

Yahoo and bing’s share fell by 7% overall where as ASK’s market share increased by 1 percent.

The Big Question

So now the question is, if that 7% of Yahoo & Bing didn’t go to Google (since their market share was steady from Oct to November) where else could they possibly go?

Is it possible that the whole traditional search economy is sort of breaking and people are moving towards ‘social search’? For instance, previously when someone had a question they would search in Google but now they just send a tweet and within minutes they get 20 real people answering that question rather than a robot (‘crawler’) trying to return relevant pages that may or may not have your answer!

What do you say?

Here is the complete Hitwise Chart of growth/decline of search share for all major four search engines:

Search-Market-Share


Google Goggles

google-gogglesGoogle has just launched a new application for Google’s Android based mobile phones that will allow people to search for more information by simply pointing their mobile camera to the object and taking a photo using the Google Goggles App.

Google Goggles has been developed to recognize popular tourist attractions, famous paintings and even company logos. Once a User focus their phone’s camera on an object, Google automatically compares certain elements of that picture against its vast database of images. When Google finds a match, it straightaway shows the name and also provides a list of results linking through to the relevant web pages and news stories.

How Does Google Goggles Work?

So How does it work? Well, if you have Google Goggles installed on your android phone just open the app, snap a photo and voilà! Google will process the image and return your search results. This whole new photo search functionality totally eliminates the need to type or say anything on your mobile device, and it adds context to your real-world surroundings. Makes perfect sense!

For First timers, simple ho to Android market from your phone and search for “Google Goggles” and you will find the app!

Check out this video to see what else you can do with Google Goggles!

Thats not all. Google is also able pinpoint your location using your phone’s GPS functionality and digital compass built in to many of the phones that run Google’s Android operating system. Google says it can already has tens of millions of objects and places in the google image database for comparison.

“Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words,” said Shailesh Nalawadi, product manager for Google Goggles. “For many search queries, using an image to search is easier and more useful than text alone, especially on a mobile phone. Computer vision technology is still in its infancy, but Goggles demonstrates its potential.”We are hard at work extending our recognition capabilities. You can imagine a future where visual searching is as natural as pointing your finger.”

To Learn More about Google Goggles, please head over to – http://www.google.com/mobile/goggles/


Google Launches Free Online Dictionary

google-online-dictionary

I’m not sure whether this is something new, but apparently Google has an online dictionary that lets you find definitions and synonyms in almost thirty different languages, pulled from a scope of different sources and impressively fast.

Previously, Google used to offer up an automatic definition from various third-party sources like Dictionary.com or Answers.com. However, now as you can imagine there’s a little blue "definition" link on the right side of any word or phrase search, which links directly to Google’s own homebrew definition answers.

Google does have a special keyword called “Define:keyword” that lets you search for the definition of any word almost instantaneously. The “define” operator is still pulling data from various 3rd party sources instead of Google’s own dictionary. But I’m sure this is going to change in the near future.

Check out the Google Dictionary: http://google.com/dictionary

If you have any feedback about this new tool, do send them via comments!


7 New Features in Google Analytics 2009

google-analytics-logo

Google has recently sent out a newsletter highlighting some of their new features they have included inside Google Analytics.  Google Analytics is a great tool that every webmaster should use in order to monitor a site’s traffic and keep tabs on things that happens behind the scene. Other than just giving raw figures, analytics goes far beyond that and gives you details on conversion, visitor’s loyalty, traffic referrers and more.

Check out these cool new feature of Google Analytics listed below. You can consider this as a Christmas gift from the Analytics team :)

Analytics Intelligence with Custom Alerts

Using an algorithmic driven Intelligence engine, Analytics Intelligence monitors data patterns over daily, weekly and monthly periods. Significant changes in data trends and insights you may not have noticed are surfaced directly in your account. You can also create your own Custom Alerts that monitor your selection of dimensions and metrics that can be sent by email or displayed in the Intelligence reports.

Expanded Goals and New Engagement Goals
You can now track even more conversions by creating up to 20 goals per profile. Measure user engagement and branding success on your site with Time on Site and Pages per Visit goals. Set up your first Engagement goal in minutes.

Expanded Mobile Reporting
Google Analytics has expanded support for mobile websites and tracking for iPhone and Android mobile applications tracking. Adding server side code to your PHP, JSP, PERL, or ASPX mobile websites enables you to track non-Java-Script enabled phones. For mobile application developers, access the SDK and technical implementation details here. You’ll also be able to see breakout data on mobile devices and carriers in the new Mobile reports in the Visitors section.

Unique Visitors Metric
Include the Unique Visitors metric in your Custom Report or Advanced Segments to see how many actual visitors (unique cookies) visit your website. You can select Unique Visitors as a metric against any dimensions in Google Analytics.

Advanced Analysis Features
Dive deeper into your data with Pivoting, Secondary Dimensions, and Advanced Table Filtering. These combined features enable you to perform in-depth, on the fly data analysis within your account.

Share Advanced Segments and Custom Report Templates
Share the URL link for an Advanced Segment or Custom Report with anyone who has an Analytics account. Sharing the link will automatically import the pre-formatted template into the person’s account. Also available now is the ability to share or hide your Advanced Segments and Custom Reports by profile.

Multiple Custom Variables
Custom variables provide the power and flexibility to customize Google Analytics to collect the unique site usage data most important to your business. Define and track visitors according to visitor attributes (member vs. non-member), session attributes (signed in or signed out), and by page-level attributes (viewed Sports section). Use custom variables to classify any number of interactions and behaviors on your site. Start learning more about them now.


Google – Lets Look back in Time

In late October, Google UK’s YouTube channel posted an amazing video that brings back Google’s past 11 years to life with some really cool animation. The video mentions some of the most interesting events from Google’s history. “From Stanford to Mountain View and around the world, featuring many different products, starting with BackRub (Search) up to Google Wave, StreetView and Chrome.”

This video is definitely worth checking out!

The Google Story

For RSS Readers: (Watch it Here)

Now they did leave out a number of Google Products for obvious reasons – they wanted to keep the video short and sweet. (current length is 2 minute and 16 seconds).

But I’m really surprised that they have missed out a ‘biggy’ – Can you guess which one I’m talking about?


Trakkboard – Google Analytics for Desktop

trakkboard-google-analyticsIf you work with multiple Google acocunts to Track many different Google Analytics profiles then you already know that its a very clumbesom process. Signing in and out of various Google accounts multiple times in a day can be a real pain if you are dealing with a lot of websites of your own or of your clients.

Trakken, a company from Germany has recently released a free desktop app called Trakkboard that uses the Google Analytics API to pull data from different analytics accounts. Trakkboard lets you access multiple Google analytics account simultaneously and also compare data from each of your profiles without being logged in to Google Analytics.

trakkboard-desktop

How to Steup Trakkboard?

Installing & using Trakkboard is fairly simple. Just head over to – http://www.trakkboard.com and enter your email address to request a your free ‘license key’. By requesting the license key, you basically accept their general T&C and get authorized to use Trakkboard. Once you receive your key, you can straight away download the Adobe AIR based app – Trakkboard.

After the installation, you will get the chance to enter your Google acocunt details. Once everything is set select Google Analytics Accounts and profiles, then choose from any of the preset report widgets (visitors/page views/source/bounce rate etc.). Your report widget will then appear on the dashboard. Simply repeat the process with other Google Analytics Accounts, Profiles, and Widgets – to build your customized analytics dashboard in a matter of minutes.

What’s very interesting about each of the different report widgets are that they can be configured to automatically pull new data from the API at a fixed interval, for example, every hour. This dramatically reduces the time it takes to see top level metrics across all your accounts.

Trakkboard Features

  • Compare data of different google accounts, websites and profiles without permanently changing sites at Google Analytics.
  • Opportunity to compile individually and from different portals and websites all the key performance indicators which are of a certain importance for you on just one dashboard.
  • Add up to two Google Account Email addresses
  • Open Tabs inside the application that will let you create as many dashboards as you want and you can arrange the data individually
  • Follow current developments on your desktop or you can lock certain data from changes to have them available at all times
  • Switch between the display formats, change time spans or rearrange data with one click of a button

Google welcomes innovative app developers to come up with new ways of using the Google Analytics platform. If any of you have developed a useful tool that uses the Google Analytics API, you can send a email to the analytics team to be featured in the Analytics Blog.


Google Dashboard

google-dashboard If you have been using internet for a while then its very likely that you use quite a number of Google services. For instance, my net life is purely surrounded by Google – starting from my email (Gmail), IM (Google Talk), documents (Google Docs), search (Google Serch), photos (Picasa), Feeds (Google Reader), Calendar (Google Calendar), Online Payments (Google Checkout) – everything is just Google. Since everything in Google is sort of “inter connected”, it’s really scary to think of how much Google knows about each of us.

Google Dashboard, is a new portal which sort of tells you all that Google knows about you. It lists down all the Google services that you are a part of and includes details of your last actions. For instance, it shows you the last search you performed on all the different Google search engines (web, maps, video etc) by pulling the data directly from Google’s Web History. Other google services that are listed on the dashboard currently are: Gmail, Alerts, Picasa, Blogger, Calendar, docs and many more.

Google is yet to disclose the specifics of the Dashboard and what else they are planning to offer there. But they do have a video up which sort of explains the dashboard briefly. Have a look:


Official Google Twitter Accounts

google-twitter

Everyone loves twitter and it seems like Google as a company is not an exception on this case. Earlier today Google posted a list of all their official twitter accounts.

Karen Wickre who is from Google’s Blog & Twitter Team writes:

Like lots of you, we’ve been drawn into Twitter this year. After all, we’re all about frequent updates ourselves, and there’s lots happening around here that we want to share with you. Of course, we enjoy watching, and contributing to, the tweetstream (we hope you find our tweets useful, too). Because there are many programs and initiatives across the company, we’ve got a number of active accounts. Here’s a list of the current ones. We’ll update this list from time to time.

Here is a screen shot of the list since it was last updated:

Official Google Twitter Accounts

I initially counted a total of 44 twitter accounts on that list, but according to Techcrunch, Google may have missed one of their own account from the region list. So that makes the total account 45!

Its really great to see that a company of Google’s size is open to change and adapting new (3rd party services). I mean just think about it, they are one of the biggest media company out there, why should they even care about monitoring and contributing to the twitter space?

Twitter has millions of users now, and its growing at a rapid rate. I think its really important for the companies to realize the importance of establishing a relationship with their customers. Undoubtedly twitter really makes this process very easy. Hopefully we will see more and more companies using twitter effectively in the near future.


Google Maps Directions Widget for Your Site

If you are advertising online which complements your offline business, its very important for you to make sure that your customers to how to reach your store/office.

It can be a real pain sometimes to write out and update multiple sets of directions from the North, South, East or West. And it also gets very confusing for the customer as they are only looking for directions from their own specific location and they may not even know from which way they are coming from to your location.

Luckily, with their new Google Maps directions gadget, you no longer need to worry about all these anymore. With a simple click of a button, you can now have a widget like the one below:

Simply enter your location at the top box (try palo alto) and Google maps will automatically display a map and give direction based on your location that you have entered. Here is a screen shot:

google maps direction widget

Not convinced? Just take a look at how Stanford university is using the Google Maps Direction Widget on their website to give visitors the direction to their visitor center.

Source: Inside Adwords Blog


Google Updates Location Based Search Results

If you like traveling and rely heavily on a search engine like Google for your travel related research then you would probably appreciate Google’s recent efforts in location based search.

For over two years, google is displaying maps of location via Google Universal search directly in the search results page when a user is searching for location based keywords. (e.g. New York, Melbourne).

But now Google has taken this one step further and started displaying pictures alongside the map which gives users a sense of what the place is like in real.

I searched for Kuala Lumpur (the capital of Malaysia) and I was presented with a map of Kuala Lumpur alongside some of the pictures from the city. Clicking on the image took me directly to the google maps page and sort of graphically placed each of the pictures on the map.

Kuala Lumpur - Google location based search

Kuala Lumpur Google Maps

Bing Cries Out Loud at Google

Little Background: Bing was down for over 36 hours which is why Google sort of indexed their “Error” page for one of their domains – Bing Travel. Many days has passed, but it seems like Google hasn’t updated the search snippet. Matt Cutts replied in Techcruch with a screen shot saying the problem has been fixed — But apparently the issue is something else. Read on…

bing-tweet

This morning when I was reading this story on Techcrunch, I initially thought of blogging about it, but as i scrolled down I saw Matt Cutts’s responses in the story where he pretty much cleared the air stating that this was just a fluke and certainly not intentional (well these were not his exact words, but I think I sort of made it up). But anyway that’s not the point. The point is he actually showed everyone a screen shot (http://www.mattcutts.com/images/bing-travel-snippet.png) where the problem seemed fixed:

bing-travel-snippet

matt-cutts-reply-techcrunch

Based on Matt’s screen shot I did a search for “bing travel” in Google and found the snippet to be back to normal. I noticed that the last date of cache was indeed 9th July, just like what Matt said. But many people were still complaining that they can’t see the ‘updated snippet’ and at that time I thought that this may be a DC issue (Google has many data centers and they take time to propagate).

However after 6 hours or so, I noticed that Andy Beal is covering the story in Marketing Pilgrim. So I became a bit curious and tried the search again this time only with the key phrase “bing and to my surprise I got the same old snippet –

bing-temporarily-unavailable

Then I looked up the cache of both pages and it seems like Google has two version of Bing Travel page indexed –

Version 1: http://www.bing.com/travel
Last Cache Date: 4th July

bing-travel-cache-old

Version 2: http://www.bing.com/travel/ [This one basically has a forwarding slash at the end of the URL]
Last Cache Date: 9th July

bing-travel-cache-new

Hopefully this is temporary and both Google and Bing looks into it rather than playing the blame game.